A new name for a new era has been launched for the handbell music program of Abilene ISD. Soundwave is here! Formerly “Abilene Gold,” this program offers a unique experience for special education students in the district. Using an adaptive music notation method developed by the founding director, Letha McGrew, the handbells have been performing both locally and nationally since 1978. Originally the Woodson Handbell Choir, Soundwave highlights the musical potential of these students.
Comprised of students from both Abilene High and Cooper High Schools, Soundwave continues to entertain as they perform for area schools, retirement centers, hospitals, churches, civic organizations, and community events. In December of 1991, the bell choir traveled to Washington, D.C., to perform in the White House. Woodson Handbell Choir has also performed the national anthem at multiple Texas Rangers baseball games. The Woodson Skill Center, in 2003, earned the AGEHR National Exemplary Award for Handbells/Handchimes in Music Education. The handbell choir performed for the American Guild of English Handbell Ringers national conference in 2005. The Texas Music Education Association recommended Abilene Gold to perform in the 2011 “Arts Education Days at the Capitol” celebration in the rotunda of the capitol in Austin. Abilene Gold performed in June 2012, for the Texas Association of Secondary School Principals Summer Workshop in Austin. In June 2014, Abilene Gold performed for “Summit”, the bi-annual conference of the Texas/Oklahoma area of the Handbell Musicians of America.
This successful program flourishes due to the devotion and caring of its former directors, Letha McGrew and Cathy Taylor. The 2015-2016 school year brought the program’s third director, Eric Logan. We look forward to the continued joy that handbell music brings to our audiences.