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Handbell Choir Director Is ‘Janet’ of All Music Trades

Talent certainly abounds at St. Barnabas, and one example is our Assistant Music Director Janet Beckmeyer. Janet is who you see leading the Handbell Choir and scooting from the organ to the piano when Michael Chertock, music director, is away.

Janet is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music (CCM) with Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in piano performance. It was during this period that she met Michael Chertock, who was one of her teachers. “I was very thankful to study piano with Michael at CCM,” she said.

Janet went on to earn another Master’s Degree in Speech-Language Pathology at the University of Cincinnati, which led to her career as a speech-language pathologist at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.

As most know, if Michael needs to be away, he sometimes asks one of his students to fill in for him. That’s how Janet came to St. Barnabas in 2001 when she was a student at CCM. Everyone was impressed with her abilities, but Father George and Amy Hill had a need. At that time, the church was looking for a new handbell choir director, and Father Hill saw an opportunity. He asked Janet if she would be willing to lead the bell choir. “I did not have previous experience with handbells, so I did a lot of research and spoke with other bell choir directors for ideas” she explained. The St. Barnabas Handbell choir uses a simple, easy music note-marking system, so ringers of all ages and levels can ring handbell music.

“Anyone can ring,” Maaike Chertock, handbell choir member, said, “and you don’t have to know how to read music.” Maaike admits there is a learning curve that has to do with rhythm.

Bell choir has always been a family affair. Many adult ringers participate in bell choir with their children. The schedule makes it is easy for families to participate in the handbell ministry.

In addition to her work at the hospital and handbells at church, Janet is a busy mom. She and her husband Joe have a daughter Rachel, 14, who plays the violin and is a cheerleader.

The St. Barnabas handbell choir rings at the 10 a.m. service once a month and during holiday seasons. “We have a lot of fun at rehearsals,” Janet said, “and we love to collaborate with the other music ministry groups at St. Barnabas, such as the adult and youth choirs.” The bell choir rings handbell anthems in addition to congregation hymns during the service. Anyone interested in ringing is welcome to try handbells. They maintain a flexible schedule and you can ring at Sunday services as your schedule allows.

Current members of the St. Barnabas handbell choir are:

Andrea Anderson, Joshua Chertock, Maaike Chertock, Marius Chertock, Marcie Hammel, Kathy Kennedy, Saskia Van Leersum, Sharon Mathew, Diana Mattson, Nicole Mattson, Sophie McCoy, Josiah Rajasingh, John Spellman, and Grace Spellman.

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