NW Works and SU do ringing renditions for chimes concert

Posted: November 19, 2012

The Winchester Star

Shenandoah University music therapy student Maria Payne (back to camera) conducts NW Works Chimers members Steven Tarrant (from left), Liz Davis, Ashley Miller and Donald Bucklew as they play a handbell version of the Rolling Stones’ “Paint It Black” Saturday during the Peace, Love and Chimers Concert held at the War Memorial Building in Jim Barnett Park. (Photo by Scott Mason/The Winchester Star)

WINCHESTER — A crowd of more than a hundred clapped loudly every time they heard the chimers from NW Works play.

Elizabeth Davis, 36, could barely contain her excitement at performing in front of so many people at Saturday’s Peace, Love and Chimers Concert at the War Memorial Building in Jim Barnett Park.

This is the 18th year for the performance.

“We love it,” Davis said. “I like the people’s looks on their faces.”

Saturday’s concert was sponsored by Shenandoah University’s music therapy program and NW Works, a nonprofit organization that provides vocational opportunities for people with disabilities.

Eleven clients from NW Works played chimes, while SU students sang songs ranging from “Hey Jude” by the Beatles to “Stand by Me” by Ben E. King.

In the months leading up to the concert, SU students taught the chimers how to play, and the SU students learned how to conduct and improve their arranging skills.

Clients from NW Works benefited as well.

Chiming teaches people with disabilities how to follow directions and pay attention, according to Michael Rohrbacher, director of music therapy at SU.

“They can be highly successful at doing it,” Rohrbacher said.

“It reinforces skills in a very, very pleasurable environment,” he added. “This gives them something they can look forward to.”

During an intermission on Saturday, the bubbling chimers crowded into a break room, all smiles. They could barely sit still.

“I’m excited,” said Ashley Miller, 30, who also admitted she was nervous. “It’s pretty good.”

Miller said she enjoyed the dancing that comes with playing chimes.

“I love to dance a lot. I want to be a dancer like on ‘Dancing with the Stars.’”

Danny Smith, 41, a professed Michael Jackson fan, said the group had practiced for a few months before the show.

“It wasn’t hard,” he said. “It was kinda easy.”

— Contact Rebecca Layne at rlayne@winchesterstar.com