Shake shake shake… shake shake shake… shake your Bell…

I am sitting in the hallway talking with another mom and waiting for bell rehearsal to end when I hear my son arguing a little with the conductor.

“I do too shake,” my boy states.

“No, just the highest note shakes.”

“But my mom wrote in a shake for me in measure 46.” (I had written out his part for him, as he had trouble finding his notes in the regular music.)

In my defense, Mr. F.  said, “She probably thought it was a shake. It could look like that, but it’s not.”

“I have to let my mom know.”

“Okay, after rehear-”

“Mom, oh Mom!” he calls, running out the hallway.

“Yes, Philip?”

“You made a big mistake.  There is not a shake in measure 46.”

“Oh, I’m sorry, I must have written that measure incorrectly.  I’ll fix it. Go back in now.”

He goes back in, a little smug that he got to catch me with a mistake, and a little sad, too.

Poor guy.  On the way to rehearsal, he told me how excited he was because he got to “shake his bell” in the Christmas song.

My mistake.  And he didn’t hesitate to let me know.

After rehearsal I went into to see –and  quickly correct– my mistake.  Mr. F taught me a little about bell music and how it is written, and then we proceeded to talk about Philip and how he was doing as a ringer.  Turns out that, although his wife is a retired special education teacher, and Mr. F is a vice principal at a local private high school (the disciplinarian!), this is his first experience having a kid with special needs in the bell choir… or any other setting. Neat thing was that I couldn’t really tell.  He’s doing a great job.  Philip loves bells, loves music, likes being part of the group.  Mr. F is firm but compassionate.  He has standards but knows what is critical and what is not.

Mr. F told me that he asked his wife for advice, and she referred him to me.  (Cool! ) Mr. F  is trying his best.  He is leading by example, too.   The other kids are starting to help Philip with his music and making sure that he knows what song they are rehearsing,  what measure they are on,  and what ringing technique to use.

It’s a great group for him.

I explained to Mr. F that Philip needs lots of repetition and that he will eventually understand the bell-ringing  policies and procedures (such as “no running out of rehearsal to tell mom she made a mistake.”) In fact, when he gets it he will not stray,because he is very procedure-oriented.  For example, he is learning to watch Mr. F and not the other ringers to know when to lift the bells in preparation to play.  Currently, Mr. F gives the signal, the other ringers lift their bells, and then Philip lifts his bells.  I’ll role-play this weekend, pretending to be Mr. F giving the “lift your bell” signal.  Then maybe on Sunday when they bell choir performs in worship,  he’ll lift his bells in unison with the other ringers.

On one hand, the bell lifting is not “critical,” as Mr. F says.  If Philip doesn’t start with the other kids, that’s okay because he “rests” the first two measures and knows his part by ear and can come in on time.  (Saaa-weeeet!)  On the other hand, it is a start for him to learn how to work with others and be part of a group, considering others and learning how to accept authority. Hopefully it’s one lesson that he’ll learn and generalize! 🙂

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