The Virtual Bell Academy offers courses on a variety of topics related to handbell musicianship all from your computer, laptop, or tablet. Through the technology of our internet video conferencing system, we bring the classroom to you.
Classes will be offered each spring and are open to all. Membership in Handbell Musicians of America is not required. However, members will receive a discount on registration.
Continue to scroll down for the Spring 2017 Course List. Note, all times listed are Eastern time.
Members, be sure to login to your member account before registering to ensure you are charged the member rate for the classes you choose. To register, click the button under the class description for the class in which you wish to participate.
Registration Fees – All Classes:
Members – $35 per class
Non-Members – $45 per class
Healthy Musician Series with Rob Meyer-Kukan
Anatomy for Musicians Made Easy – March 14, 8:00 PM
Anatomy sounds technical and difficult to understand. After all, the study of anatomy is only for medical professionals, right? This class will teach you the basics of anatomy as it applies to music making. Building on the concept of, “your body is your instrument”, participants will take away a better understanding of how their body (their instrument) works, moves and makes music.
Stretching for Musicians – March 21, 8:00 PM
Stretching is good, when done right. In this class you will learn why to stretch, what to stretch and how to stretch. Demonstration will be given of stretches that are appropriate for before, during and after a rehearsal, concert, service or other music making opportunities. Note – participants will be invited (and encouraged) to move and actively participate in the class.
Preventing Injuries for a Lifetime of Music Making – March 28, 8:00 PM
One of our goals as directors, educators, instructors and handbell musicians is to develop “lifelong musicians”. We do this through teaching music concepts, technique, repertoire, performance practice and more. By learning techniques for healthy music making, coupled with healthy lifestyle practices, we can reduce the chance of injury allowing our bodies the ability to play for a life time. This freedom gives us the opportunity to focus on making music for a greater musical affect.
Rob Meyer-Kukan is the director of music at Dearborn First United Methodist Church, Dearborn, Michigan. He is a lifelong musician and an avid learner. He has rung handbells with The Detroit Handbell Ensemble, Classical Bells and the Capital City Ringers(Lansing, Michigan). He also participates in the Bay View Week of Handbells annually. Rob is a licensed massage therapist and incorporates his anatomical knowledge as well as a focus on healthy musician practices in his work with clients and his music students. Rob is the owner of the Healthy Musician Institute, LLC, where he is a massage therapist, teaches private music lessons and leads classes and workshops.
Handbell Techniques with Michele Sharik
Ringing Safely: Stance, Seat, & Stroke – May 1, 8:00 PM
This class will teach you ergonomic techniques to help you not only survive those long rehearsals, concerts, and day-long ringing festivals, but also do so without pain or soreness. Ringers will be introduced to the “Three S’s”: Stance, Seat and Stroke, and will focus on developing a relaxed ringing style to help control the bell, ring dynamically, and make beautiful music.
The Right Tool for the Job: Seven Ways to do Four-in-Hand
Part 1, May 8, 8:00 PM
Part 2, May 10, 8:00 PM
Playing handbells involves a lot of problem-solving, and problems are easier to solve if you have the right tools. Learn seven ways to do four-in-hand and see how many problems YOU can solve!
Four-In-Hand Dexterity Drills – May 15, 8:00 PM
These practice drills will help you develop strong four-in-hand skills for both interlocked and non-interlocked styles. We’ll cover ringing in all directions, switching out bells with one or two hands, switching between styles on the fly, stacking and re-stacking, and more!
Full Hands, Full Hearts: Six-in-Hand – May 22, 8:00 PM
re you ready for the next level challenge? Six-in-hand is for you! Learn at least three ways to play three bells in each hand, as well as the ergonomic and practical concerns of each style.
Michèle rings professionally with Sonos Handbell Ensemble, is the founding artistic director of Timbré, and is an internationally-renowned handbell soloist, conductor, and teacher. She completed a Bachelor of Arts in Visual and Performing Arts in 2012 from
Cal State San Marcos and is now working on a Graduate Certificate in Performing Arts Medicine from Shenandoah University. Michèle is master teacher of Handbell Techniques for the Certification program of the Handbell Musicians of America, and past chair of Area 12.
Audition Skills for Ringers with Sharon Schmidt
April 4 – 8:00 PM
Are you eager to join a community or college group? Auditions can be new and scary territory for ringers. We’ll step through the entire process from signing up to dealing with the results.
Sharon Schmidt is a charter member of The Agape Ringers, an auditioned community handbell ensemble from the Chicago area. She directs two adult handbell ensembles at Gary United Methodist Church in Wheaton, Illinois, has served on the Illinois State Committee for Handbell Musicians of America since 1994, and was chair for eleven Distinctly Bronze events. Sharon is currently treasurer for Area 8, and the Certification Program Coordinator for the Guild. Her teaching experience includes numerous local events, events in Areas 2, 7, 8, and 10, several National Seminars, a National Festival and the International Handbell Symposium in 2008.
Handbell Musicianship with Greig Ashurst
A Fresh Approach to Rhythmic Integrity – April 17, 8:00 PM
A good handbell ensemble becomes a great handbell ensemble when the intangibles of music start to come alive. The most fundamental element in a superior handbell performance is having great rhythm. This class will offer a fresh approach to learning and understanding rhythm and musical performances of challenging rhythms.
On Being A Creative Artist and the Composer’s Advocate – April 24, 8:00 PM
This Masterclass is about helping musicians and audiences connect to a composer’s work. This class will explore ways for conductors to help players and audiences experience the aesthetic content of a musical work through a better vocabulary of gesture and conducting technique.
S. has over 20 years of teaching in both public and private schools and universities in Louisiana, North Carolina, and Texas. Mr. is the director of bands and a technology administrator at Cathedral-Carmel School in Lafayette, Louisiana. Previously, he taught instrumental and choral music and was selected the 2008-2009 “Teacher of the Year” at North Vermilion High School in Maurice, Louisiana. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Music Education from the University of Louisiana – Lafayette and a Master of Music degree in Instrumental Conducting from the Meadows School of the Arts at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. He is an active music educator, writer, percussionist, conductor, and clinician in local, state, and national music organizations. In addition, Mr. is the director of instrumental and youth music at Asbury United Methodist Church in Lafayette, Louisiana. Mr. maintains a very industrious schedule as a guest conductor, clinician, and consultant throughout the United States.