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Bell choir startles stressed students with ringing flash-mob concert

December 7th, 2011 Posted in Arts and Life

Story & Photos by Heidi Hansen

LOGAN—They call it dead week for a reason. The students of JCOM 1500 had that familiar crazed-stressed-delirious-from-study look in their eyes Tuesday morning.

Professor Cathy Ferrand Bullock began the large GenEd class with her traditional Q&A session, likely adding to student stress as she randomly picked names from the class roll for torture . . . er, to answer questions about the day’s readings.

But one clever student answered with the ring of an English handbell. Soon another ring came. And another.

Twelve members of the Westminster Bell Choir then rose from their seats scattered amidst the students, bells extended overhead, and moved toward the front of the Old Main classroom.

“What the heck is going on?” was the only thing journalism student Ami Meite, 19, could think.

Then FLASH! The staggered jumble of ringing suddenly turned into the notes of “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.”

Related story on Westminster Bell Choir.

Bullock, the director of the Westminster Bell Choir, planned the “bell-flash-mob” as a treat for her Introduction to Mass Communication students during the last week of classes, but even she was startled when it actually happened.

Laughing as she rang the final note with her large handbell, Bullock introduced the choir to her class and explained that she wanted to give her students a break and lighten the mood as they prepare for finals week.

“It was a welcome relief,” said 27-year-old journalism student Lysandra Moore. “I was genuinely surprised. I felt a little like I was being ambushed.

“I should have noticed unfamiliar people in the class,” she said, “but it was an excellent show.”

Ringer Jill Bowers, 21, an English major, said she certainly felt noticed as she sat on the front row, waiting for the cue to ring her bell.

“People in class must have thought I was a gun bomber or something, because I had to hold the bell under my black coat,” Bowers said. “I was sitting there with my hood up too. People walked in and didn’t want to sit by me.”

The inspiration was the American Festival Chorus, which put together a flash mob at the Cache Valley Mall on Black Friday, with the Westminster Bell Choir as accompaniment.

“Cathy was really, really excited after the Black Friday flash mob,” said natural resources graduate student and ringer Kelly Goonan, 26. “She wanted to do it somewhere else and we were happy to come to her class.”

“After that [Cache Valley Mall flash mob performance] I started thinking, could we do this on our own?” Bullock’s conclusion was apparently an emphatic, Yes!

“Then I thought of my class,” Bullock said. “I’ve looked out at them these past few weeks and they look so stressed and tired. I thought this would be a great way to give them a little break.”

And as the choir packed up their bells and exited the classroom, the mood really did seem lighter. Many students had been startled awake and commented after class that they enjoyed the experience.

However, not all students experienced the “shock and awe” that Meite and Moore went through. Some were more alert.

Kelsie Mason, 20, said she quickly realized what Bullock was up to. “I remembered her talking about being in the Black Friday flash mob, so then I knew what was going on,” she said. “

But it was still really fun, a nice pause from regular class.”


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  1. 3 Responses to “Bell choir startles stressed students with ringing flash-mob concert”

  2. By Susan Barrus on Dec 7, 2011

    What a great idea! We had some students talking about how they could flashmob somewhere on campus, too – after they saw Black Friday Flashmob. It really does give spectators a lift and the participants feel great, too. We did have a good time on Black Friday,(I’m in the choir) and we love having the Westminster Bells join with us for concerts (and flashmobs!) For those who missed it, there is a link for the AFC flashmob we’re referring to at:

  3. By Ben Burt on Dec 8, 2011

    That is awesome. We of the American Festival Chorus are glad our flashmob was inspiring to some. In a time where the meaning of Chrimstmas has become stressful, we love seeing people bring simple Joy to others. We will post about this on our facebook page on.fb.me/tLymHN and our Twitter account @AmFestChorus. Nice job!

  4. By Kate on Dec 9, 2011

    I was in this class! It was the best thing thats happened to me in a class all semester. It was so fun to watch!

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