Fall City bell choir ringing true

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FALL CITY - The members of the Bell Hops bell choir based out of the Fall City United Methodist Church can forgive a bit of ignorance about their music.

"People wonder what we are doing," said Jaimie Schutter, a junior at Mount Si High School who has been in the group for eight years. "Around Christmas time people ask me if I am going to go in front of Safeway and ring a bell."

Others have thought that since the bell choir is based out of a church, the members play churchtower bells with long ropes. When skeptics do attend a bell choir concert, they see a group of 20 high-school and middle-school-age children who perform music that ranges from classic church songs to the maramba-esque Disney tune "Under The Sea."

"It's a lot of fun," Schutter said.

Bell Hops director Marion Querro founded the group in 1990 after years of promising herself she would start a bell choir. When she was a child, Querro was visiting a sister in California and went to a youth group meeting at a church on a Sunday night. The group brought out some bells to play and needed a person who could read music to fill in. Querro volunteered and enjoyed the experience so much she has passed on the joy of playing to her students for the last 13 years.

"I told myself then, I would lead bell choir," she said

Unlike a bell that would be used by a Salvation Army ringer outside a grocery store, the bells in the choir are impressive instruments. Rather than just ringing arbitrarily from side to side, the clapper inside a bell only hits one side. This requires the bell player to ring the bells in a certain kind of circular motion that ends with them snapping their wrist. The bells come in every key and pitch and can even get out of tune. They also are expensive, and the bigger ones are heavy.

"In my next life, I am going to lead a harmonica group," Querro joked.

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