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Our idea, and how it was inspired
What kinds of community performances?
Our "15 Miles on the Erie Canal" community performance
Past programs
Upcoming programs
To learn about new projects and postings
Sample music videos and scores

Here's our idea, and how it was inspired

Bells & Motley's "American Heroes" project was spawned by our reflections upon Thomas Jefferson, his relationship with music, and sturdy belief in the importance of amateur music making and dance in creating the social fabric of a new country..... and spurred on by our recent purchase of the historic Greek Revival home we have named "MonteViola" or "Little Monticello," where we give music lessons, build and repair musical instruments, and engage in experimental fruit and vegetable farming, right in the village of Marcellus!

Some of us learn to play our music by ear, especially when it comes to traditional dance music. This is how Sondra originally started her playing as a child. Other folks, like John, began their playing with written music. The idea behind this resource page is to provide our music students with opportunities to practice both skills at the same time, towards fullest musicality. The idea behind our musical projects is to support the efforts of beginners and amateurs with opportunities to play in with experienced professionals.

In the videos below, two of John's students Pam Ethington and Sean King have become AMERICAN MUSIC HEROES by agreeing to record music they have learned that same day in their lessons with John, on ukulele and guitar, to provide an audio resource for others.

What kinds of community performances?

Over the years, we have been actively creating projects for community playing, hoping to bring together people of all ages and experience, from beginner to amateur to professional. Our Christmas pageants have been popular for decades, and are shaped according to each community's needs and assets. In the summer of 2011 Bells & Motley received a NYSCA Grant to support a historically-based special community project that centered around our original American Music Folk Pageant "15 Miles on the Erie Canal."

"15 Miles on the Erie Canal Community Folk Pageant Performance"
A Sing-Along, Play-Along Folk Pageant of our Grand Erie Canal . Come bring your voices, or if you’d like to be part of our “old time string band pit orchestra” bring the stringed instrument of your choice, be there at the stage one hour before the performance, and we’ll all go over these favorite canal tunes together to get you ready. Fiddles, banjos, dulcimers, mandolins, guitars, ukeleles, cellos, autoharps - any and all acoustic stringed instruments and ages welcome and encouraged! Join us for an authentic unforgettable experience in the real live music of our state’s history - it's going to be great!
Contact us for more information about participation in the pick-up string band, & to receive lead sheets for the music. Songs will include the following Erie Canal favorites:

"Camptown Ladies"
"Tramp, Tramp, Tramp"
"Whoa Mule Whoa"
"Oh, that Low Bridge"
"Low Bridge, Everybody Down" (I Had a Mule, Her Name is Sal...)
plus, the two pieces included below

On MAY 6 and 7, 2011 Friday and Saturday, there was a preview event at Kellish Music Farm"Come Rise to the Occasion." This was put on to help provide fundraising support the upcoming 3-day American Music event in July. On the Saturday Bells & Motley invited Pam, Sean, and others to come and perform traditional pieces in with them, to kick off the "American Heroes String Band" debut. Those music for those pieces may be found below... more resources to come!

FRIDAY JULY 22, 2011 at Kellish Hill Farm, 3192 Pompey Center Road, Manlius NY
At 6:00, musicians of all levels, and of all ages, are invited to come together to rehearse and perform as our American Heroes String Band Pit Orchestra for the "15 Miles on the Erie Canal Community Folk Pageant" which will begin at 7:00. This performance will be part of the "First Annual American Music Festival" at Kellish Hill Farm in Manlius NY. Please plan to bring your voice and your instrument and become an indispensable part of that festival, in its finest intentions to support the playing of music and the building of musical camaraderie.

SATURDAY AUGUST 27, 2011 at Cape Vincent Concert on the Green Series, St Lawrence County, NY
At 4:00, musicians of all levels, and of all ages, are invited to come together to rehearse and perform as our American Heroes String Band Pit Orchestra for the "15 Miles on the Erie Canal Community Folk Pageant", which will begin at 5:00. Free admission for participants and their guests.

SUNDAY NOVEMBER 27, 2011 at Morristown Public Library, Jefferson County, NY
This time, it will be our "Wassail" Community Christmas Pageant, which will begin at 6:30. Free admission for participants and all guests. Just bring something to share -- your voice! Singing, Acting, Dancing Roles available for any and all audience members.

Upcoming Projects
On Sunday afternoon AUGUST 8, 2015 , our next "American Heroes" Project will take place in Jordanville, NY, in conjunction with their stunning historic library. The afternoon begins with a group rehearsal, and culminates with a community performance of "15 Miles on the Erie Canal." If you would like to participate as a music maker, send us an email, let us know your instrument, and we'll make sure you have the music to prepare in advance, if you wish!

To learn about new projects and postings....

If you would like to learn more about this project, sign up by email to be part of future events, and to receive notice of new musical postings. Let us know your musical instrument! And we would so much love to hear your comments and ideas.
E-Mail Us

"Galopede" with Pamela Ethington on ukulele, John Bromka on fiddle -
here to enlarge Galopede music score

"Tripping Upstairs" Jig in D major with Sean King guitar, John Bromka cittern, Sondra Bromka button box -
click here to enlarge Tripping Upstairs-Scarce O'Tatties music score

"Tripping Upstairs-Scarce O'Tatties Suite" with Sean King guitar, John Bromka cittern, Sondra Bromka button box (music score above)

Contact information:
Bells & Motley, John Bromka and Sondra Bromka
offering music lessons on all manner of traditional and historic instruments at
"MonteViola" (Little MontiCello)
36 South Street, Marcellus NY 13108
Please Call or E-Mail the Bromkas to participate!