Cowbells Book

Natalia Paruz received a grant from the American Bell Collectors Association to write a book about making music with pitched Austrian cowbells. Following are the first two chapters from this book. If you are interested in purchasing this book please e-mail us a request to be placed on the e-mailing list for information about this book.


As one can't go to 'Juilliard' to learn to play cowbells I was looking for guidance from books. I have collected every book I could find which mentioned bells: books about bell collecting, bell making, carillons, English change ringing, books describing vaudeville acts, circus acts etc. It surprised me to find that not only is there no book dedicated to the art of solo ringing small bells, but there isn't that much written about the subject either. I started keeping records of my progress in learning this forgotten art form as an aid to my quest. It was when I communicated by mail with another ringer of small bells that the idea of transforming my study notes into a book came up. With the growing interest in entertaining musical novelties and the growing numbers of bell collectors the art of small bell ringing reappears. This book is a deep bow to the bell-ringing entertainers of yore and a welcoming hand to those of the future.

Getting Acquainted

I have always wanted to go to Austria. Ever since I was a kid, having watched the movie 'The Sound of Music' 14 times at the movie theatre, I wanted to go to Austria. Years later my wish came true and this is how it happened: I was a professional dancer, having graduated from the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance, performing in the U.S., Israel and England. My world was comprised of classical and modern ballet, tap-dance, jazz dance and musical theatre. My twirling came to an abrupt stop when in 1994 I was hit by a taxi-cab. As my dance career came to its end I was, needless to say, sad and confused. I had lost my world and could not find a new world to take its place. That is when my parents took me on that long coveted trip to Austria. It is probably impossible to travel around Austria and not notice the numerous cow herds roaming on ever present meadows. As I rolled the car windows down I could hear the beautiful tinkling of the cowbells. I noticed that the sound changed from herd to herd. Well, I saw and heard those bells and I was hooked. I wanted to acquire these bells. My passion for collecting a full octave was so intense I couldn't even concentrate on sightseeing until I found all the different pitches. That was the start of a new interest for me, and the start of my new found life. I later discovered a bell foundry in Austria which in addition to their production of church bells also produces musical-sets of cowbells. These sets are tuned with more precision and come ready made for playing. Today, I am fortunate to be able to say, I love bell playing so much - I don't even miss dancing at all!

Cowbell Joke

sheet music cover

Natalia's cowbell ringing has opened the official Liberty Bell move ceremony in Philadelphia, October 9th, 2003.

As one of the final installments of the redesign of Independence National Historical Park, the new Liberty Bell Center has opened on October 9, 2003. At 7 a.m. on that day, the National Park Service very carefully began to move the Liberty Bell from its home on Market Street to its new permanent home along the 6th Street side of Independence Mall. To mark this historic occasion, the National Park Service has planned, at the conclusion of the move (2pm), an official dedication ceremony of the new Liberty Bell Center.
Natalia Paruz opened this ceremony by playing 'America the Beautiful' on a set of 65 pitched cowbells. Also participating were the military band of Valley Forge and 4 choirs.

photos taken at the rehearsal for the ceremony.

Comments from the organizers of the ceremony:
"Thank you so much, your performance was magical...Your performance was truly inspirational" - Ian Crane, Management Assistant, Independence National Historical Park
"Your performance on the bells was fantastic!" - Phil Sheridan, Public Affairs Officer, Independence National Historical Park
"I do not know how you do it! I watched in amazement as you graced the large screen with your incredible talent. You have been given a gift." - Mary Bomar, Superintendent, Independence National Historical Park

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