As 2015 winds down, there’s still time to make a difference. With your help, we’ll raise funds to continue offering events such as National Seminar, Back to Bells, and College Ring-In and to help both new and seasoned handbell musicians realize their full potential in 2016.




I distinctly remember the moment I discovered that handbells were my passion. It happened at the 2010 Area 12 conference in Davis, California. My bell group had traveled from Reno to attend the event, and we were planning on performing several concerts on our way home. Since we didn’t have any practice time during the festival, we set up bells in the lobby of the hall we were staying at and set about practicing. In no time, we were joined by ringers from all across the west coast, and what started as a practice session turned into an all-night jam session.

We spent the evening playing through our binders of music while switching up spots, mixing members of our ensemble with ringers of all levels. From clinicians to beginning ringers, everyone was welcomed to the group. From that moment on I was hooked.

Derek (center) with friends from Sonos, after teaching a master class for 500 6th graders.

That entire conference was incredibly eye opening. I worked with Dr. William Payn for the first time, as both a ringer and director. I saw Velocity perform an incredible quartet and Bell Appeal play one of their pop arrangements. The Marching Handbell Choir performed their last performance and donated their bells to the Area at the end of it. There was a class on bell assignments taught by members of Sonos that crushed every preconceived notion I had about bell ringing. I accidentally had lunch with Rima Greer and launched into an in depth discussion of handbell theater. In all, the festival blew my mind.

It was at that point that I made it a quest to make handbells my life. Step one of my plan was to attend every handbell conference I could find. I have been to every Area 12 conference since, and I attend regional festivals in Areas 12 and 10 regularly.

In 2013, I got the opportunity to make my first trip to a National Seminar in Portland, Oregon, where our group performed the opening conference. At that conference, I got to see Kiriku, from Japan, perform, which completely shattered any bar I had for handbell ringing. Attending Handbell Musicians of America events continues to expand my notion of what is possible on our versatile instrument.

Without Handbell Musicians of America events, my life would be completely different. Practicing techniques and concepts I’ve learned from classes has taken my ringing ability far beyond what it was just a few years ago. Friends I have made through the Guild have become coworkers, roommates, and employers. Serving on the national board has been a crash course in running non-profit organizations. Pretty much everything I do these days stems from something I learned or someone I met through Handbell Musicians of America.

In fact, I write this letter on the airplane back from an 18-day concert tour with Sonos Handbell Ensemble, a trip I would have never imagined possible without the skills learned and connections made through Handbell Musicians of America.

Sonos, after the last concert of their most recent tour.

Don’t forget to make your 2015 tax-deductible donation
by midnight on December 31st to help Handbell Musicians of America
meet our fundraising goal this year.

How to Help

Membership dues cover just the basic operational expenses. In order to continue offering robust resources, educational events, Overtones, and other member benefits; or to develop new services and tools for all handbell musicians, additional contributions are needed. While gifts of any amount are welcomed, consider how donations to the general fund can support our mission:

  • $85 sends one student to the College Ring-In
  • $125 gives registration for one young person to attendDistinctly Teen
  • $150 supports the development of a new online educational resource
  • $200 funds one Back to Bells workshop for 10 people
  • $500 helps create live educational webinar events
  • $1000 provides infrastructure to live-stream performances and classes from National Seminar

Follow the link below to make your tax-deductible donation now.

Thank you for your support in 2015,

Derek Nance