Home > Articles > From Closet to Concert: The Anderson Belles
From Closet to Concert: The Anderson Belles
I began playing handbells many years ago with Mary Kettelhut as my director. When I inquired to her about purchasing a set of bells for our family, she offered to sell me her personal, solo ringing, 2-octave set, as she was "probably ready to give them up." She was 91 when she sold them to us! Our new handbells had been sitting in a spare bedroom for a couple of years before I purchased them, and we couldn't wait to put them back into use. I had attended many festivals while in Mary’s choirs, and they were so much fun!
I have four daughters, and we have now been playing our two octaves for about 6 years. We started on pretty easy hymn music and have worked our way up to more challenging handbell music. We have attended the Montana Big Sky Festival for handbells three times, in Dillon, Kalispell, and Livingston. In Dillon, our twins, at age 10, were the youngest ringers, so they were both asked to ring the opening bell.
We also headed out to Newberg, OR, 1,200 miles west of Wibaux, in 2010, for the Area X Festival. Our twins learned a duet at age 10, and we took the bells to the Twins Festival in Ohio, 1,400 miles from home, where they performed for the talent show. Practices along the way included pulling out the foam and table, and having them rehearse in various campgrounds and parking lots. There were no awards given, but we were told to definitely bring them back.
We perform at church, ladies' teas, nursing homes, at Christian Motorcyclists Association events, ladies' retreats, Christmas programs, for fundraisers, and similar venues. We are part of To the Cross Ministries, and we travel with their crusades. They have 2-4 crusades a year, and the farthest we have traveled with them is to Gillette, Wyoming, 270 miles from home. Looking back, as a director, I have learned so much more from the wonderful classes and instructors we have encountered along the way. When I rang under Mary, many of the current handbell techniques were unheard of, and if you did accidentally hit the bell against the table, you were in big trouble! These days, we have had fun learning the many different techniques commonly used today.
We live in eastern Montana, and bells are rare in our part of the country, and it is fun to introduce people to the wonderful music! We have been asked in the past if we had a CD, and we are happy to say, that we recorded our first CD on Saturday, November 12. Two of my daughters are high school seniors this year, and two are freshmen, so I know that our time as a family group is limited, and I really value having "our music" around after they graduate. I also look forward to sending a CD to Harry, Mary’s 100 year-old husband, to let him hear how her legacy lives on. I know she would be pleased.
The Anderson Belles