Subscribe
Members of the handbell choir at Amelia Earhart Intermediate School at Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, practice Monday for their holiday concert.

Members of the handbell choir at Amelia Earhart Intermediate School at Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, practice Monday for their holiday concert. (Fred Zimmerman / S&S)

CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — The only handbell choir in the Department of Defense Dependents Schools Pacific region will perform three public concerts Thursday at Kadena Air Base’s Amelia Earhart Intermediate School.

A traditional singing group will join the handbell choir for performances in the school cafeteria at 1:30 p.m., 2:15 p.m. and 6 p.m. The choirs will perform separate and joint performances during the 30-minute show, said Allison Peltz, music teacher.

The handbell choir is relatively new to the school, Peltz said; she started it five years ago when she took over the music program.

“The high school had an incomplete set … there were six bells missing,” Peltz said.

Kadena High School donated the bells to her school and the Parent-Teacher Association and Kadena Officers’ Wives Club chipped in money to complete the set, Peltz said.

Peltz has more than 20 years of experience teaching the handbell to adults. A parent with 13 years of experience helped her start the handbell program.

“The first year we had the handbell choir, I had just enough ringers,” Peltz said. “Now, there’s a waiting list.”

The choir consists of 11 ringers playing multiple bells. Ringers are in grades four through six.

While handbells bring thoughts of Christmas, Peltz said the group practices and performs year-round. Two performances are set for the spring.

“The group has done a complete metamorphosis,” she said. “They are playing some very difficult music. This is a wonderful opportunity for kids to take what they learn in music and take it to the highest level.”

For one student, playing handbells is not just educational, it’s also fun.

“I like getting the chance to read music and play it,” said Harry Bloom, a sixth-grader who plays the C and B bells. “We also have a great director in Ms. Peltz, so it makes it a lot of fun.”

Fellow sixth-grader Jessica Teasdale — in her second year with the choir and playing the D and E bells — said she is using the experience to reach another goal.

“I want to play an instrument next year in the band, so I [joined] to learn the notes and about music,” she said.

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign-up to receive a daily email of today’s top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign up