Choirchimes Build Community - in Cuba!

We enjoy sharing Linda's experiences with you because they tell the story of how one person can put the vision of The Guild (Handbell Musicians of America) into practice by "uniting people through the musical art of handbell and handchime ringing." (To read about Linda's first trip to Cuba follow the "See More" link at the bottom of the page.)

Last year I went on a mission trip to Cuba. Covenant Presbyterian Church, Austin, TX has a long-standing relationship with a Presbyterian Church in Luyano, which is a barrio outside of Havana and one of the poorest parts of the city.

This Cuban church community has a strong music tradition and we have taken many instruments there in the past: violins, clarinets, saxophones.  Last year I took a two octave set of Malmark Choirchimes for the church.  I was hoping that I would be able to work with some of the youth but we were not able to schedule it.

This year I asked the leader if he would contact the minister and others to see if we could schedule time to work with the youth.  The youth (ages 12-24) had a get-together on Thursday where we danced and played crazy games.  After that the youth stayed and we worked on an arrangement by Kirtsey Mitchell that has the handchimes playing chords and a violin playing the melody: Silent Night/Away in a Manger.  We spent about an hour and they learned it very quickly.  We rehearsed again on Sunday morning before church service.

I went down for the service and one of the team members asked if they were going to play for the service and I said "No, we were just practicing for Christmas."  He asked "Then, why are they setting their music up?"   Unknown to me, they decided they wanted to play!  So, Christmas came early to Luyano.

I was so proud of them; they really played well and are so excited!  They asked if they could play Cuban rhythms with the Choirchimes and I told them they could play whatever they wanted.

About Linda:
Linda is a full time agent with Keller Williams Realty. She has been ringing bells since 1982 and  prior to her move to Austin in 1994  was a member of the Indianapolis Handbell Ensemble. Linda has a Bachelors degree in Music Education from Eastern Kentucky University and a Masters degree in Music Education from the University of Texas. In addition to ringing bells, Linda directs two handbell choirs at Covenant Presbyterian Church. She also has regularly taught handbells at the Heart of Texas Suzuki Workshop at Texas State University in San Marcos and Veritas Academy in Austin. In her free time Linda likes to read, travel, and play with her cats.

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