ROYAL SCHOOL BELLS
The Bell Choir is a tradition that was started in the 1920s at Royal School. The principal at that time, Cyril O. Smith, received a gift of 16 brass handbells from his brother. With this gift, Mr. Smith started the Bell Choir and only girls were allowed to be in the group.
Throughout the years, the handbells were played by both students and teachers. Sometime in the early 1940s, the bells were lost and the choir was disbanded. As luck would have it, the bells were later found under a school building. They were then used by faculty bell choirs in the 1950s.
The student bell choir was restarted in 1988 by Dr. M. E. Neumann, a sixth grade teacher at Royal. That choir actually used six of the original bells, bell chimes and tone bars. Both sixth grade boys and girls became part of the bell choir. In later years, students in grades 4 and 5 were also able to audition for the choir. The bell choir performed until Dr. Neumann retired in 2003.
In January 2013, the Bell Choir was started again when Mrs. Chock, a teacher at the school, volunteered to direct the choir in preparation for Royal’s 175th anniversary in 2013-2014. 42 students in grades 3 and 4 auditioned for the choir; all were accepted into the choir. In 2013-2014 as fourth and fifth graders, the bell choir performed at school assemblies. The present choir uses handbells and bell chimes. The students are divided into three groups and each group practices once a week after school.
Students enjoy ringing together and learning new songs. Students learn focus and concentration, basic music vocabulary, and various handbell and performance techniques. They practice the General Learner Outcomes of “Community Contributor” and “Quality Work”. As one of the members said, “One bell makes a sound, but many bells together make beautiful music.”