Imagine being a lone Salvation Army ringer standing by your red donation pot when suddenly bell ringers approach from all angles playing beautiful holiday tunes. Flash mobbing, or the art of creating a performance in random public spaces, is nothing new. Many musicians, actors, and bored college students have been creating flash mobs for years. The handbell world got excited about flash mobs in 2009 when the New York based acting troupe Improv Everywhere created a “Guerrilla Handbell Strikeforce” to flash mob a lone Salvation Army ringer. The video has been viewed over 2 million times since then and inspired many bell groups to attempt the feat.
To pull off a flash mob you need several things. First, you need a group of ringers who aren’t afraid to play in public, and who are not easily distracted. Performing out in the open is a very different experience than performing in the controlled environment of a concert. Second, you need an arrangement of Christmas music set to use as few bells as possible. The traditional 12 Bells for Christmas work well, or someone in your group can be adventurous and try their hand at arranging. Third, you need to find a Salvation Army ringer in a location large enough for your ringers and a crowd of people to gather. A crowd will definitely form when the ringing starts, so clogging up the doorway to a Walmart might not be appreciated.
Lots of groups have been posting videos of themselves performing flash mobs across the country. My current favorite is by Rezound in the greater Kansas City area because they have an awesome arrangement of “Ding Dong Merrily on High” by Lauran Delancy and the recording quality is pretty good. This video even got them onto their own local news!
If you’ve never seen it, the original handbell flash mob by Improv Everywhere is quite good as well:
Has your group tried a flash mob? If so, what arrangement did you use? Send us your videos!