Betty began playing handbell solos in the 1980’s as a means of providing music for local nursing homes. As her skills and confidence improved, she started getting requests to share with other senior groups and eventually played at her church with live accompaniment. The church organist discovered that she was playing in the nursing homes without accompaniment and he offered to record accompaniments for a small repertoire. The sound technician at the church was able to create cassettes of those recordings for Betty. Over the years and with repeated use, the quality of the cassettes deteriorated to the point that, by the time Betty and her husband moved to California in the early 1990’s, the resulting pitch changes on the cassettes were very noticeable.
The organist at their new church, Tim Doran, worked with Betty to create CD tracks of the existing repertoire. Then they expanded the list to include classical and popular tunes so that Betty had a wider variety of songs to choose from for her concerts. Other handbell soloists heard the accompaniment CDs and asked how they could get a copy for their own use, which brought about the decision to publish the arrangements that include the CDs.
Most soloists prefer a live accompanist who can follow the soloist and adjust musical aspects as necessary, but sometimes it’s just not possible. For soloists who play in places where a piano may not be available (not to mention an accompanist!), the music published by CAN Enterprises makes it possible for soloists to have a wide selection of songs that can be played just about anywhere. Each piece of music comes with a CD that has fully orchestrated accompaniment tracks, including harmony parts, for rehearsal and/or performance. For those fortunate enough to have an accompanist, chord signage is available upon request for purchased pieces, at no additional cost.
Music for all of us is a highly personal experience and Betty’s story is no different. She began playing solos as a part of the CAN Enterprises ministry, playing approximately a dozen programs a year, as well as offertories and preludes at church. In 1986, her parents gave her a “gift certificate” to purchase her own set of bells so that she would no longer have to borrow the church’s bells. After some investigation, Betty discovered that she could purchase a full 3 octave set of Choirchimes™ for less than the cost of a 1 ½ octave set of handbells.
Since she no longer had to work around the church bell schedule, Betty was able to share her music several times a month in various ways. Her mother enjoyed going with her to these programs and she eventually was playing music in several different senior homes at least once a week. This all came to an abrupt halt on the day that the family dog took off running during the daily walk. Betty tripped on an uneven section of the sidewalk and shattered her wrist. When the cast was removed and the x-ray taken, the doctor informed Betty that it would be impossible to continue with her music. Betty refused to accept this and after months of pushing through the pain, she was finally ready to play her chimes again.
Unfortunately, the challenges weren’t over. First Betty’s mother, and then her husband, required full-time care giving, which made it necessary for the music to take a back seat for several years. After her husband’s passing in 2010, Betty needed time to recuperate from the toll that the years of care giving had taken on her. When she resumed playing, she went in a new direction with her music, offering therapeutic music to patients as a hospice volunteer. She now makes over 300 patient visit a year, performs in churches across the country, plays for various civic events and senior groups, including the annual La Habra Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast and provides music for unique occasions such as a 65th wedding anniversary celebration.
Music is an integral part of Betty’s life and the entire focus of CAN Enterprises. The complete CAN Enterprises catalog is available on Handbell World for perusing and purchasing. There are over a hundred titles to choose from, a few of which have been arranged as duets or trios to provide additional options for performance. There are several collections as well: "Songs for All Seasons", written as a duet between a handbell/handchime soloist and a violinist or flutist with keyboard accompaniment, and the “Moments” series (Soothing Moments 1, 2, & 3; Christmas Moments and Patriotic Moments) for handbell/handchime soloist with piano accompaniment and/or optional string quartet. Downloadable accompaniment tracks for the collections in the Moments series are also available.