If you were to walk past Ingram and Brauns Musik Shoppe in Modesto on a Wednesday night, you'd see a group of teens laughing and chatting, carefully arranging shiny, brass bells on a table.
Who are these teens and what are they doing? This is Fusion, a youth handbell choir, and the members are preparing for rehearsal.
Fusion is for kids and teens from fifth grade to college. Founded by Susan Ingram in 2005, it is a junior division of Opus Handbell Ensemble. Fusion meets once a week to practice and is directed by Ann Weaver.
"I like the people who play in this group," said Fusion member Hillary Allen, 14. "They're a lot of fun to hang out with. And I like going to different places (to play). It's just fun playing bells."
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Wondering how a handbell choir works? Each bell has a different note or pitch, and each player in the group is assigned two notes, as well as accidentals (sharps and flats) for each note. Then, when playing, each player rings his or her bells on the right counts to create a song. A three-octave group like Fusion needs 10 players, plus two or three substitutes in case someone cannot make it to a performance.
It may sound difficult, but Brooke Allen, 12, says, "It's only hard sometimes, if you don't know what you're doing, or if you just started out."
Having musical experience helps a great deal.
"It helps because you know the notes and how to read music," said Stefani Weaver, 18, who plays a variety of instruments, including clarinet and guitar. "You have to know the basics."
McKenna Hardy, 14, said what she enjoys most about the group is that "it's fun to play, it's a new experience, and it helps you learn more musically."
Laura Jensen, 15, added, "You make great friends, and the songs are cool and fun to play, not to mention fun for the audience to listen to!"
Fusion will perform at Samaritan Village, 770 Fox Road, Hughson, at 2 p.m. Nov. 30. The group will also join Opus Handbell Ensemble at the Modesto Church of the Brethren at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 8. If you are interested in joining Fusion, contact Ann Weaver at 968-1057.
Julia Jensen is a freshman at Modesto High School and a member of The Bee's Teens in the Newsroom program.