With a Bachelor of Music Education degree from Texas Christian University and Master of Music Education degree from the University of Oklahoma, Venita has been directing handbells for over 30 years. She has served on the Board of Directors of Area 9 of the Handbell Musicians of America (HMA) in several capacities. She has been the massed ringing conductor for the Santa Fe Christmas Handbell Festival, the Arkansas State Handbell Festival, several Area 9 Young Ringers Festivals in addition to leading HMA workshops at the local, state, area, and national levels. With her daughter, Erin, she has authored “Basic Training for Bells” and “Basic Training 2: Rhythm Training for Ringers”, handbell method books published by Choristers Guild. Married to Don, who works for the National Severe Storms Laboratory, they have two married daughters, two granddaughters and two step-grandsons. But their Norman household is dominated by their cats Strider and Arwen and their love of all things Tolkien, “Star Trek” and “Harry Potter.” Just recently retired from her position as a church music director, Venita looks forward to new adventures directing OCHE.
Cynthia, retired music educator & parent educator, has played and conducted handbells for 18+ years. She currently fills her days watching her two young granddaughters. She is also actively involved in the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI-OK) as a trainer/presenter.
FOUNDING MEMBER & BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Kathy has been ringing bells for many years. She has played music she could never have imagined as a part of OCHE. Recently retired from teaching, Kathy has moved into the role of full-time grandmother and is enjoying every minute with her grandchildren.
Melissa's interest in handbells was piqued as a wee babe watching her mother direct the church bell choir. Melissa later joined that same choir in junior high. When not behind the table, she cares for dogs and cats as a vet assistant in Edmond.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Pat began ringing handbells as a charter member of her church choir in California. After moving to Oklahoma, she discovered OCHE and has been a member for over 2 years. Pat spends her time enjoying her family and traveling.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Playing music has been a part of Sara’s life since late elementary school. She spent middle school and high school ringing in her church handbell choir and playing flute in various ensembles. These musical talents allowed her to travel in high school and college with the groups as they performed across the country. She directs a handbell choir at her church, and enjoys sharing her knowledge gained through years of experience behind the table with the members of her choir. Her spare time is spent volunteering at her daughters’ school, going to movies with her family, and reading.
Brooke began ringing handbells about ten years ago as a founding member of her church handbell choir. She continues to ring with her church choir and joined OCHE in the fall of 2011.
By day Sheila is a meek and mild-mannered high school French teacher, but by night she becomes a bell-ringing extraordinaire! Originally from Wisconsin, Sheila has been a part of various bell choirs off and on since high school and only recently got back into ringing. This is her third season playing with OCHE, and she loves the Christmas music the best! When she's not spreading holiday cheer through ringing, Sheila also enjoys reading, playing with her kittens, and training for the odd marathon.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Gretchen enjoys playing bells, gardening, cooking, traveling, her daughters, and her grandson. For several years, Gretchen has enjoyed playing with OCHE. Daytime employment finds Gretchen working as a researcher for an abstract and title company. She looks forward to introducing her grandson to bells.
Ruth is a retired teacher. She has played handbells for over thirty-five years and directed children, youth, and adult bell choirs for over thirty years. Ruth is a founding member of OCHE. Retirement years have been full of spoiling three granddaughters, volunteering in the church music library, playing clarinet in the church orchestra, and serving as treasurer for the Oklahoma City Teacher's Union.
Marci loves all the ringing opportunities with OCHE: from the Salvation Army kettles, to the nursing homes, to the schools, to “Saturdays with Santa,” to concerts all over the state, and the OKC Civic Center. Marci has been an ecumenical ringer playing with Lutheran, Episcopalian, Presbyterian, and United Methodist handbell choirs. She loves being a grandmother (with two grandchildren now playing in a chime choir), singing with her church choir, teaching pre-school Sunday School, and working as a laboratory manager in a local clinical practice.
BORAD OF DIRECTORS
Emily began ringing in 7th grade with her school handbell choir. She fell in love with handbells and began ringing in her church choir as well. After moving to Norman, she was overjoyed to find OCHE and continue ringing bells! For her day job, Emily teaches third grade in Norman.
Meet our amazing ringers, director, and percussionists. We are all truly proud to be a group of artists with more than 155 combined years of experience playing one instrument for audiences of all ages!