I love a good quote. I love to collect quotes and post them in meaningful, strategic places in my office and around my home. I am drawn to quotes that urge me to be better than I am or to be more mindful of how I interact with others; to be more passionate and more compassionate. One of my favorite quotes, often attributed to Abraham Lincoln, is printed on the lid of a small wooden box sitting on my desk that currently contains several finger puppets. It reads, “Whatever you are, be a good one.” It doesn’t matter to me who actually gave us this quote. I love it because it seems to give us permission to be whatever we want to be while also imploring us to do so with excellence.
I observed this concept in action a few weeks ago while attending our National Seminar in Rochester, New York. Handbell musicians from around the world, of varying occupations, ages, races, religions, sexual orientations, years of musical and ringing experience, and political persuasions gathered together for a common purpose: to realize their full potential through a musically-respected art form. By selecting and attending classes taught by some brilliant, entertaining and enthusiastic teachers, you could become a better version of yourself. Want to be a bell tree soloist? Be a good one. Want to be a conductor? Be a good one. Want to be a composer/arranger? Be a good one. Want to be a better bass/treble/ensemble/rhythmic/expressive/solo ringer? Be a good one. Because there were so many wonderful topics, it was sometimes difficult to choose just one during a particular class session. By offering a wide array of topics, National Seminar provided participants with the information and opportunities to help participants achieve their goal of becoming better handbell musicians. And in doing so, Handbell Musicians of America realized part of its mission: “advancing the musical art of handbell/handchime ringing through education, community, and communication.”
I could go on about National Seminar and tell you how awesome it was to experience the variety of excellent performances throughout the week and how the community interacted with one another in positive ways, but I expect that you will read about it elsewhere in this issue. Instead, I want to take a moment to acknowledge Jenny Cauhorn, the national office staff, and the seminar planning team for their great work in creating this experience. After reading a post-event status update on Facebook by Stevie Berryman, a member of the National Seminar faculty this year, I realized that many of our members may think that the national board helps to plan and organize events like National Seminar. Stevie wrote, “This has been an amazing summer. I directed a ringing track for the first time. It included my own piece of published music. I directed a reading session for the first time. I’ve met nearly all of my heroes in my professional field, and many of them have become treasured friends. And the fact that this all happened on the national stage…I’m boggled. My sincere thanks to Jennifer Cauhorn and the national board for giving me this opportunity. See you all next year in Anaheim.” (italics mine) I replied that the national board had nothing to do with the planning of the event and that all of the credit goes to Jenny and her team.
If you attended National Seminar, I hope you will send a message, email, or note to Jenny expressing your appreciation for her hard work and dedication as our executive director for the past ten years. During my five years on the national board, I have observed her love of the Guild first-hand. I have experienced how much she loves the art of handbell ringing and the people who engage in it. And I know that she will continue to work tirelessly to plan meaningful events and experiences for all members of the handbell/handchime community.
Serving on the national board these past five years has been a challenging yet rewarding experience, and it is especially rewarding when I experience events that help the organization fulfill the mission statement. I look forward to serving my final year on the board with some incredible, dedicated, and passionate colleagues who share in our common vision: “Uniting people to create a diverse community in which handbell musicians of all skill levels realize their full potential through a musically-respected art form.”
At-Large Board Member
Throughout the coming year, in addition to Ed Rollins’s President’s Pen column, our national board members will bring you special messages of their own regarding their experiences, the state of the organization, reflections on our art form, etc. This month’s message is from board member Stephanie Rhoades.