Handbells

Four Pieces for Easter: A New Handbell Collection

Four Pieces for Easter: A New Handbell Collection

Easter is a joyful day in the church year. It’s the day we celebrate Jesus’ resurrection and victory, the gift of new life, and the hope of everlasting life to come.

All of this makes Easter the perfect time to pull out all the stops (no pun intended). From handbell acclamations to soaring soprano descants, brass ensembles to triumphant fanfares, there are lots of things you can do to help bring Easter to life in your worship services.

The good news is, Easter is more than just one day - it’s a 50-day season.

It’s kind of like celebrating your birthday all month long.

That’s why I’m excited to share with you Four Pieces for Easter - a digital collection of four pieces for 2-3 octave handbells (12-21 bells) designed to add a creative element into your worship services, both on Easter Sunday and in the season that follows.

Four Pieces for Lent: A New Handbell Collection

Four Pieces for Lent: A New Handbell Collection

Lent is a season of reflection, sacrifice, and cleansing. “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:10)

To honor this sacred season of the church year, I created Four Pieces for Lent - a digital collection of four pieces for 2-3 octave handbells (12-19 bells). These pieces are designed to add a creative element into your services.

The collection includes a solo arrangement of “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross,” a processional for 12 bells (seven players), a hymn descant for “Fairest Lord Jesus,” and a solo setting of “What Wondrous Love Is This” for 12 bells and solo instrument.

Four Pieces for Epiphany: A New Handbell Collection

Four Pieces for Epiphany: A New Handbell Collection

Epiphany, the season after Christmas, is a season of light and joy: the manifestation of Christ as the Messiah.

To celebrate, I created Four Pieces for Epiphany - a digital collection of four pieces for 2-3 octave handbells (12-16 bells). These pieces are designed to add a creative element into your services.

The collection includes two versions of a solo arrangement of “We Three Kings,” a processional for 12 bells (six players), a hymn descant for “Christ Is The World’s Light,” and an original prayer and accompanying underscore.

Four Pieces for Christmas: A New Handbell Collection

Four Pieces for Christmas: A New Handbell Collection

Introducing my newest handbell collection - Christmas!

Four Pieces for Christmas is a digital collection of four pieces for the Christmas season. These pieces are designed to add a creative element into your services - thoughtful ways to incorporate handbells in new and unique ways.

The music in this collection is written for 2-3 octave handbells (12-17 bells), so they’re easy to learn and accessible for smaller (and younger) groups.

What's Not in the Job Description: The Many Roles of a Handbell Choir Director

What's Not in the Job Description: The Many Roles of a Handbell Choir Director

“Congratulations! We’re excited to have you as our new handbell choir director.

There’s not much to it, really. Just show up on Wednesday nights for rehearsal, pick out a few things to play in worship this year, and arrive a little early those mornings to run through your piece.

The bells are kept in this locked cabinet. You’ll need to retrieve the hidden key to the office to get the key to the cabinet…

Oh, and we’ll need you to recruit a few new members - we had a few people move out of state last year.

Oh, and some of the bells may need repairing - ringers complained last year about a few odd noises…”

Four Pieces for Advent: A New Handbell Collection

Four Pieces for Advent: A New Handbell Collection

Surprise! I released my first collection of handbell music this week!

Four Pieces for Advent is a digital collection of four simple pieces for your Advent worship services. These pieces are designed to add a creative element into your services - thoughtful ways to incorporate handbells in new and unique ways.

The music in this collection is written for 2-octave handbells (12 bells), so they’re easy to learn and accessible for smaller (and younger) groups.

How to Start a Handbell Choir (with Zero Experience)

How to Start a Handbell Choir (with Zero Experience)

So, you want to start a handbell choir. The only problem is, you don't know the first thing about ringing and your ringers are mostly newbies without a whole lot of previous musical experience.

What's a want-to-be handbell choir director to do?

The good news is you don't need to have a lot of experience or professional training to lead and direct a handbell choir (though, that never hurts). With a desire to learn, a solid sense of rhythm and steady beat, and a little practical know-how, you'll be on your way to building and leading a handbell choir in no time.

A Dozen Budget-Friendly Collections for the Small Handbell Choir

A Dozen Budget-Friendly Collections for the Small Handbell Choir

There’s nothing quite like the thrill of playing through a new handbell piece. The challenge (you want me to play how many bells?), the excitement (a new technique!), the intrigue (how will it end?).

The only problem is, handbell music can be quite costly, sometimes as high as $5 per copy.

And if you’re a part-time director of a small handbell choir at a small church with a small budget, to match, you may be able to afford only 1-2 new pieces a year.

A practical solution? Handbell collections.

Instead of buying music one piece at a time (and spending $4-$5 per copy), a collection gives you 3-10 pieces for a fraction of the cost. Recently, I’ve come across several collections that work really well for smaller (2-3 octave) handbell choirs like ours.

Here are 12 budget-friendly collections you might consider:

Handbell Notation Guide [Infographic]

Handbell Notation Guide [Infographic]

One of the most challenging things about directing a handbell choir is getting used to all the new markings in the music.

Why? Because in addition to general music notation markings (dynamics, slurs, articulation, accidentals, accents, etc.), handbell music includes special technique-specific markings - things like “thumb damp,” “echo,” and “martellato."

A number of these notation markings appear only in handbell music and if you’re relatively new to ringing, it can be hard to keep up.

What does that arrow mean again?
What do you do when you see a plus sign?
What does “TD” stand for?

A few months ago, I found myself googling “handbell notation chart” without much success. There are a few cheat sheets out there, but not as many as you might think. So, I decided to create my own.

25 Reproducible Collections for the Small Handbell Choir

25 Reproducible Collections for the Small Handbell Choir

It can be challenging to find good quality handbell repertoire for a small bell choir. It’s even more difficult to find music for a small, but intermediate-level group. Add to that the expense of buying new handbell music ($5 per copy, on average), which could cost you $50, or so, for one new piece in your library. If your bell choir plays several times per year, as most bell choirs do, this adds up quickly.

A solution? Reproducible collections.

When you purchase a single copy of a reproducible collection, it includes a license to reproduce as many copies of the collection as you need for your ensemble. Most of these collections run around $50, but they include 6-8 pieces for your bell choir to play. This is a significant amount of savings!

Reproducible collections are available from a variety of publishers and distributors. Some are even available as digital downloads (marked with an asterisk below), meaning you can purchase the collection, download it to your computer, and print it immediately without waiting for a book to arrive in the mail. This is a great time-saver if you’re shopping for new music just a few days before your next rehearsal!