TMC Handbells perform "Rain"

Wednesday, July 17th, 2013

Take Me Out to the ’Bell’ Game!

Tuesday, July 16th, 2013
Last spring, I took a course in Event Planning, and for my final project, I had to coordinate either a real or imaginary event. I chose to coordinate The Master's College Spring Handbell Concert and learned a lot about planning an event from start to finish, managing a group of people, and creating a logical flow that engaged the audience. I will be posting several videos from that concert over the next few days. Video credit goes to Peter Johnson for spending several hours taking and editing the video.

The first song I wanted to share was actually the finale of the concert. It is an arrangement of "Take Me Out to the 'Bell' Game" in the style of a cheesy waltz, Pink Panther, and Magnificent 7. It was arranged by myself and a fellow student, Morgan Ruthard, as a final project for our Handbell Directing course. We really enjoyed adding a bit of drama to this song and I hope you enjoy it.

Sing We Now A’Wassailing!

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012
The Fellowship of the RingThis past Christmas, The Fellowship of the Ring had the incredible privilege of performing in The Master's College 2011 Come Christmas Sing. Our quartet, which consisted of Lindsay Christoph, Wendy Mack, Amy Mack, and Morgan Ruthardt performed both outside as the audience was standing in line waiting to enter and inside during the concert. The theme of this year's concert was the 1920's, so during the prelude our quartet dressed in fur coats and top hats and stood in front of the building. We performed numerous four-in-hand pieces that Amy arranged for our group.

As part of a class project, Morgan Ruthardt and I edited a handbell piece arranged by Paul Ellsworth. We auditioned the piece and were accepted into the concert. We had a wonderful time being a part of Come Christmas Sing in this way and we are looking forward to hopefully doing it again in the future.

Mack Family Update: First Semester Completed!

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011
It has been quite a while since I have been able to blog as I have been incredibly busy preparing for and going through my first semester of college.  I thought I would share a little bit about what that has been like for me:

 Wendy talks to friends while waiting for her student ID on the first day of collegeMy first semester in college has been a dream-come-true!  I am a double major in Worship Music Ministries and Liberal Arts and it has been amazing to be able to focus on areas that I really love.  I have just finished taking twenty units which has been intense but incredibly worth it.  This first semester I mostly took general education classes and a few of the basic classes required for my major and I thoroughly enjoyed it!
Continue Reading "Mack Family Update: First Semester Completed!" »

Ringing in the Christmas season

Wednesday, December 1st, 2010
This Christmas was full of music for Wendy and I as we performed with seven different groups over the holiday season.  All but one of the groups were in handbells - the most handbells groups we have ever been in at one time.  
Amy watches the conductor during a handbell performance
Through The Master's College handbell groups, we had the privilege of playing in the annual Come Christmas Sing concerts - a week long concert series put on by the college and featuring a wide variety of music and instruments.  We were also able to expand our musical abilities under the direction of Professor Claire Blackwell and enjoyed playing songs such as, "Angels We Have Heard on High", "The First Noel", "Joy to the World", and even a funky version of "We Wish You a Merry Christmas".

Continue Reading "Ringing in the Christmas season" »

What Child is This?

Wednesday, December 1st, 2010
This past semester, our handbell trio The Fellowship of the Ring  had the opportunity to perform in the prelude of The Master's College annual Come Christmas Sing Christmas Concerts.  We performed Wendy's and my arrangement of "What Child is This".

From left to right:  Wendy Mack,  Amy Mack, Morgan RuthardtThis particular song really stretched the three of us as we had to come up with creative ways to cover as many bells as possible while still making the piece look easy and sound good to the audience.  The song included everything from the very lowest bells (weighing nearly sixteen pounds apiece!)  to some of the highest and each of             us covered over an octave of bells.

Through this semester we have been able to expand our repertoire as well as enjoy practicing challenging pieces together.  This next semester we are looking forward to playing a Lord of the Rings medley (since our group is named after it) and to pulling off another fun song!

Twelfth Annual Master’s College Bellfest

Sunday, November 28th, 2010
This month, my sisters and I participated in the 12th annual Master's College Bellfest, a fun listening and learning opportunity for handbell ringers and lovers.   We had over ten choirs and small ensembles from all over southern California share their works, including a special mini-concert by renowned solo ringer Christine Anderson.  While there, each choir was able to sight read through a new piece while learning many new and fun techniques as well as participate in a mass ring of Joel Raney's arrangement of "We Three Kings".

We'd like to thank Claire Blackwell for coordinating the event and Christine Anderson for directing and teaching us.  We all learned a lot and really appreciated all the hard work that was put into this.

Continue Reading "Twelfth Annual Master's College Bellfest" »

Andantino - The Fellowship of the Ring

Sunday, November 28th, 2010

This year, Wendy and I have had the opportunity to experience small ensemble ringing through our group - The Fellowship of the Ring. We started this trio last year with our friend Morgan Ruthardt and enjoyed it so much that we decided to continue this semester. At the beginning of the semester, the three of us made the decision that the trio would only play music that was either written or arranged by someone in the group, allowing us the freedom to play whatever song we want in whatever way we want to play it. Because we are all either music majors or music lovers, writing our own music has been great and has helped us all grow in our music abilities. It has given us a better understanding of the pieces we are playing (how they work and fit together) and has also been a lot of fun!

Last semester we started our first performance off with a comedy skit on "I've got the Joy". In the skit, Morgan is trying to be very professional and solemn while playing this Sunday school song - without the joy. The other two players (Wendy and I) aren't exactly thrilled with that and keep trying to take over the song to "liven" it up a bit - much to Morgan's frustration . Throughout the song the three of us constantly go back and forth - each one trying to take control of the song and play as they think it should be played until the climax, where the three ringers finally all agree on the best way to play the song.

This semester we decided to do two new songs. Over the summer, Wendy and I arranged "What Child is This" for the trio while Morgan worked on arranging the song "Andantino". We have really enjoyed playing both of these beautiful pieces and have had the opportunity to play in the annual Master's College Bellfest and are looking forward to performing in the Master's College Come Christmas Sing this year. Below is a video of our trio performing "Andantino" at Bellfest.

We have really enjoyed this special opportunity both in increasing our skill with the bells and in building friendships and have already started planning some very special (and fun) pieces for next year!

We Three Kings (Mass ring at Bellfest 2010)

Saturday, November 27th, 2010

What do you get when you combine three timpanis, several percussion instruments, a synthesizer, and several full bell choirs? Some great music and a lot of fun!

This fall The Master's College held their 12th annual Bell festival (Bellfest) which we had the opportunity to participate in. Each of the several choirs and small ensembles performed their works and there were some amazing pieces! We even got to hear a small mini concert by Christine Anderson, a renowned solo ringer who wowed us all with her quick playing and juggling bells!

The concert ended with a mass ring where all the participating choirs played together along with the percussion and synth. Under the conducting of Christine Anderson, we played Joel Raney's mystical arrangement of "We Three Kings" which uses a variety of techniques and sounds to make you feel as if you were on the journey with the wise men.

The Jubilant Four

Saturday, November 27th, 2010

At the beginning of this semester an interesting problem arose for Master's College Jubilation Handbell Choir. While the group was scheduled to meet twice a week, class conflicts prevented all but four of us to meet for the second rehearsal. Our handbell director Claire Blackwell decided to use the time instead to help the four members who could make practice learn how to do four-in-hand ringing. The result? The Jubilant Four was formed.

The four of us (Wendy Mack, Amy Mack, Steffie Hydanus, and Hannah Knapp) decided that we would become a four-in-hand quartet. Four-in-hand ringing is a special technique where each person holds four bells (two in each hand) and keeps holding them for the entire song. While only sixteen bells can be played per song, we are able to use those bells in combinations to make the sound lively and full. Unlike most choirs, we do not use tables, allowing us the freedom to walk around and stand with the audience. We have all enjoyed learning this new technique from Mrs. Blackwell and have had a lot of fun getting to know each other better!


This summer, my sisters and I decided to prepare a special piece to perform at the Master's College annual Bellfest and chose the song "O Holy Night". While Wendy and I have been ringing bells for a long time, this was Emily and Kelly's first time to ring handbells and they were very eager to learn. We had a lot of fun practicing together and filling the house with music (although I think Mom and Dad may have gotten a little tired of the same song being played over and over) and were able to pull it off. It was amazing to see how quickly the piece came together and how smoothy it went.

We were able to perform our song in the Master's college Bellfest and really enjoyed it! Below is the video of us all playing this piece.

Playing this song was a lot of fun and the four of us are looking forward to doing more together soon!

Directing My First Bell Choir

Sunday, October 3rd, 2010
Wendy directing the bell choir"Don't let anyone think less of you because you are young.  Be an example to all believers in what you teach, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity." - 1 Timothy 4:12

For several years, a set of two octave handbells have been sitting in the attic of the local church, just waiting for someone to come along to start a bell choir - I guess that someone was me.

The bell choirLast year, one of the members of the church mentioned the bells and asked if Amy or I would be interested in directing a choir.  At the time, while I really wanted to help, I couldn't imagine myself directing a bell choir where I would be the youngest person there.  
Continue Reading "Directing My First Bell Choir" »

Today, my sister and I rang in The Master's College 11th annual Bellfest, led by Artist in Residence Christine Anderson. (We're in the back row, at 1:19 on the video).

My sister and I had the double treat of ringing not only with our own church handbell choir, the Master's Hands, but also with Jubilation, one of the handbell choirs at The Master's College.

This is the last song that we rang.  It was written by John F. Wade, arranged by Cynthia Dobrinski, and conducted by Christine Anderson.
This weekend, Amy and Wendy were invited to participate in Bellfest 2007 at The Master's College.  Christine Anderson taught a bell class for small groups, ensembles, and solos.  Amy and Wendy prepared a beautiful piece to share at the concert at the end of the day. (Click on the image to watch the video)

What's amazing is that the girls accomplished this using two inexpensive sets of children's bells. If you've ever seen or rung one of these bells - where the clapper can go in any direction - you will know how hard it is to get one of these bells to ring only once or on queue. Amy and Wendy perfected a technique that allowed them to do this well, and they were an inspiration to everyone present.  I'm very proud of them..

I'm also very appreciative of Mrs. Anderson for her kindness and invitation and inspiration to my children.

You can visit Christine Anderson's web site at Voices in Bronze
This year, Amy & Wendy had the opportunity to perform with a new handbell ensemble, Fusion:

- Fusion Bell Concert 2.jpg

Continue Reading "Fusion Handbell Ensemble: The Original Heavy Metal" »