Trevor Godfrey spreads joy through handbells

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Trevor Godfrey spreads joy through handbells

Credit: Maddy Schmitt/The Foothill Dragon Press

Credit: Maddy Schmitt/The Foothill Dragon Press

Credit: Maddy Schmitt/The Foothill Dragon Press

Credit: Maddy Schmitt/The Foothill Dragon Press

Rachel Sun

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Freshman Trevor Godfrey has been part of a handbell choir group, organized by First United Methodist Church, for four years. The group is named Joyful Noise Handbell Choir and they meet for an hour every Sunday at 10:30 a.m. to practice.

“It feels cool because not many people know about [handbell choir groups] and when I tell them, they’re usually pretty surprised,” Godfrey said.

Handbells are bells that are designed to be rung by hand. They are classified as a percussion instrument and can be played in either a choir group or as a solo instrument. In a choir group, each person is responsible for a few bells that produce a different pitch.

A handbell can be played several different ways:

  • plucking the bell, where the handbell is lifted and then gently dropped
  • laying the bells on a table and tapping them with a mallet
  • picking up a bell, moving it in a circular motion, and then flicking it 

It is necessary to have a basic knowledge on music fundamentals, such as reading sheet music and being able to follow the conductor, in order to play this.


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Trevor Godfrey’s older brother, Hunter Godfrey, is a senior at Foothill and has played for their church’s handbell choir group since he was in fifth grade. Hunter Godfrey encouraged Trevor Godfrey to join Joyful Noise Handbell Choir.

“It is like any other team, the more experienced teach the fresh meat and eventually graduate to college where they play specially for Christmas only. It feels like any other team I’ve been on,” Hunter Godfrey said.

Before joining his church’s handbell choir group, Trevor Godfrey didn’t know how to play an instrument nor did he know how to read sheet music. He found it hard learning how to read sheet music when he first began. In his opinion, the most important part of playing handbells is keeping focus.

“You have to focus and if you get lost, then it’s kind of hard to get back into it,” he said.

Miriam Arichea, director of Joyful Noise Handbell Choir, has been teaching her choir group since Godfrey was in fifth grade. She describes him as “the leader for some of the younger kids.”

“When Trevor first started, he didn’t know how to read music and he didn’t know how to count, but now he’s one of my more reliable people,” she said.

Godfrey has done many handbell choir performances, most of them at his church. He found Under the Sea from The Little Mermaid to be the hardest, but best, song that they have performed.

Besides playing handbells, Godfrey also likes playing volleyball, going to the beach, and hanging out with his friends.

Godfrey encourages students to try playing handbells because “it’s a lot of fun and everybody that does it is very joyful.”

Credit: Ellie Morrison/The Foothill Dragon Press

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