Derek Barton Obituary: Fort Branch Community School Director died

Derek Barton Obituary
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Derek Barton Obituary: Derek Barton, a resident of Fort Branch, Indiana, and beloved director of Fort Branch Community School’s English hand bell choir, the Bells of Harmony has sadly passed away.

Derek Barton, a native of Pike County, has long been the director of the Bells of Harmony, the English hand bell choir at Fort Branch Community School. The English hand bell choir is one of the music teacher’s and the eighth grade history teacher’s “proudest achievements.” His family was the source of his own passion for music-making. His mother Sue Ellen Barton and grandmother Ruth Swain Atkinson had the greatest influence on him.

They used to sing in the car, at church, and when he was younger, he started taking piano lessons. Actually, his first piano was partly paid for by his grandfather, Lestle Atkinson. He was influenced by band directors Jim Bolte, Richard Bernhart, Jim Earnest, and Paul Metzger at Pike Central and then at Oakland City University, in addition to Glory Heyde. When he led Broadway Christian Church in Princeton for many years, his music continued to be a service. He first performed during worship.

He still leads the local Melody Makers vocalists and plays piano for the Sunday school class at Mount Tabor General Baptist Church, where he is a member of his home church. In addition, Barton was a bass guitarist in the pit orchestra of Gibson Southern High School and the local band Styll Country. Barton continues to play the saxophone, which he studied in high school.

Rosemary Harbison introduced Barton to tone chimes through her church choir while he was a student teacher. Thus, in 1989, he began using tone chimes for his bell choir. In 1993, the choir decided to switch to Malmark hand bells after selling candy bars to generate $4,000 for the 37 three-octave Malmark English hand bells.

Barton is skilled at making the most out of his resources. Barton played at the holiday concert at Fort Branch Community School and entertained the Gibson General Hospital Auxiliary with the handbell choir. In order to create music that seeks to uplift the heart and ears, Barton teaches his students various methods for producing a variety of sound qualities. These methods include striking the table, holding the bell for a longer period of time, dampening the sound with the thumb, and plucking the bells.

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