This holiday season, your donation to MAG’s appeal in the OICF 2017 Holiday Catalog will help purchase a set of orchestral chimes and other music equipment for the Orcas public school music program. It is a gift that our young percussionists and their fellow student musicians have been hoping for. Donate here.
Let’s hear from our school music teachers, Band Director Darren Dix and Strings Director Pamela Wright about this appeal.
Q: Tell us a bit more about orchestral chimes.
Darren: A set of orchestral chimes is an essential percussion instrument for our school music program that we have been wanting for a while. When played, chimes sound like church bells and this instrument is also known as tubular bells. It is a pitched percussion instrument that is played with hammers.
Pamela: Most of the high school and middle school music rooms that I have been to in our region own a set of chimes as it is a major part of the percussion section.
Q: Why buy a set of chimes instead of another instrument?
Darren: The distinctive sound of chimes adds a lot of color to ensemble music, and is not something that is easily mimicked; both Band and Strings programs would benefit. A basic, high-quality set costs about $4,000. As percussion instruments are not available for rental, purchasing a set is the only option for our long term vision to outfit a full percussion section in the school music program.
Q: Is there a set of chimes that the band uses now?
Darren: No. we do not have a set. Currently, we may use the glockenspiel when the music score calls for chimes. Chimes have a much more round, resonant sound, and are pitched lower than the bell kit. However, the bell kit is the closest thing we have as a substitute.
Q: How would it benefit our student musicians?
Darren: There are 61 kids in band this year, including 14 percussionists. Learning to play the orchestral chimes reinforces note learning. The distinctive sound will give more color and depth to the sound of the group as a whole. There will be many opportunities to perform because many band and orchestra pieces call for chimes.
Pamela: We have 45 kids in Strings now, and our beginning strings group starts in November. In the past we have used a keyboard patch for chimes, but it is just not even close to the real thing. There are quite a number of pieces for strings that involve percussion. I am hoping to pass out a piece soon that has chimes in the percussion section, Mars from the Planets by Holst!
Editor’s Note: Chimes have a long history in orchestral music, dating back to the 1860s and 70s in Paris. While they were first used to replicate the sound of church bells, composers today increasingly value their timbre for modern compositions and chimes can be heard in popular music too. For more interesting history and facts about chimes, click here.
There are many videos on Youtube that feature orchestral chimes. Here are a couple of links we found.
Carol of the Bells on Chimes https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QPyeU5c5s-g
Fear of Music: Bow Bells (2014) for solo orchestra chimes and soundscape https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=69a19NF0BVc
MAG’s Appeal in the OICF Holiday Catalog
Orchestral Chimes and Music Equipment for School Music Program
Many band and orchestra pieces call for chimes, a pitched percussion instrument played with hammers. Also called Tubular Bells, chimes sound like church bells. They are an essential percussion instrument for our school music program. Currently our students use the glockenspiel or a keyboard patch—a poor substitution. Raising $4000 will help buy a quality basic set for the school. Your donation will reinforce note learning and will add color to the sound of school music!