Playing handbells is a different way of making music for this old trumpet player. In a way that is different from the trumpet, I need to put my body into the music when playing handbells.
My arm and hand movements make a difference in how the bell sounds. You have to make sure your wrist and arm action is just right or the bell will peal out at a great volume or won't sound at all. The sound changes as you move the bell and there are certain movements that aid in making all kinds of different sounds and effects.
I realized this one evening when we were rehearsing for Christmas last year and have been trying to pay attention to it since. With trumpet, of course, the body is there and active- the way I push the air through the horn, the fingering that builds muscle memory as I work on it. With the bells the whole body seems to be part of the resonance. As I bring the bell up and out for it to sound I am aware of the positioning of my whole body.
There are times when you are playing one bell in one hand and immediately the one in the other. Then the whole body begins to move. The rhythm flows through the muscles and seems to come out through the connection of the bell and the fingers.
I know this sounds like an exaggeration. Maybe for some it is, but it feels that way in me when I play bells. It is quite a feeling to have my body as part of the music. I am even beginning to notice the same thing happens on a different scale with my trumpet. Maybe that interaction between body and sound, soul and music is part of who we are as humans.
It works for me!
Here's a video of our handbells on Christmas Eve.