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Skilled Nursing Unit celebrates winter with musical hand bells

By Staff | Jan 20, 2015

photo by BARB BARRETT/The Luminary Dr. Charles Getchell, a music enthusiast who is well known for his great vocal talent and his English hand bells, presented a program at Susquehanna Health's Skilled Nursing Unit in Muncy on Thursday afternoon. The center celebrated "Winter Week" with the musical bells and a "Wonderland Festival" on Friday.

MUNCY – Residents at the Susquehanna Health Skilled Nursing & Rehabilitation Center in Muncy were entertained to a variety of songs and lyrics from a well known musician in the Lycoming County area, Charles Getchell, Ph.D. With the bells, he led them into a sing-along using booklets with sheet music to the traditional holiday and Christmas tunes.

Kim Gardner, activities director, said that this month was a good time to have something special and celebrate winter. In December there was much sickness and activities became limited.

Many old favorite hymns were enjoyed by Getchell’s melodious low bass voice as he guided the residents into the songs while they accompanied with their own hand held bells that he brought along.

His matching chime bells vibrated with harmonious melodies that were color sounding to engage everyone.

“Silent Night and Winter Wonderland” were some of the popular hits of the afternoon and many volunteered what they wanted to hear as he sang with them.

Residents at the Susquehanna Health's Skilled Nursing Unit in Muncy participated in Dr. Getchell's hand bells program singing along with him, and ringing their bells.

“There are 18 notes I use for the bells,” he told his smiling audience. “Music is always so joyous here.”

He designed a platform to hold nine colored bells. Each songbook corresponds to a bell’s note.

Getchell has performed for several children’s audiences and has joined them in hymn sings in various churches.

He has performed for various music clubs and especially enjoys visiting the seniors’ organizations. Getchell has created his songbooks for everyone, whether they can read music or not. He has used his songbooks for as many as 100 people at once and explained that he has a total of 104 books with bells, and over 80 songs.

He had to decide which bells would give the best sound for each ring, then type in the lyrics to make the booklets. The matching colored bells with the lyric sheets easliy engaged the residents as they would chime in with the corresponding notes.

“Getchell first developed the Bell Program as a method of support for congregational hymn sings and later designed it to appeal to seniors,” said Michelle Harmon from the Nursing Unit. “His program now includes many old time favorites and seasonal hymns.” Most of the songs he has compiled are ones people enjoy.

Originally, Charles Getchell came to this area from Massachusetts in 1967 to teach mathematics at Lycoming College. He taught there for 22 years before moving into a position with the Nielsen Company building mathematical models. He is now retired and enjoys sharing his music with others as well as singing in various choirs. Currently, he resides in the Woolrich area and sings with the Williamsport Chamber Choir, the Pine Street United Methodist Church choir and the Lock Haven Community Chorus.

In addition, he shares his talents with the Williamsport Music Club, directs the Liberty United Methodist Church Choir in Lock Haven, and assists as substitute organist at many churches in the area. Dr. Getchell accepts donations and all proceeds are directed to a scholarship fund at Lycoming College for students who have volunteered in healthcare, which he established in 2003 in memory of his wife, Joan C. Getchell.

He can be contacted at (570) 360-9576 or email charlie@getchwood.com.