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E-Notes April 2013


This Month

Tell Us Your Story!

National Seminar 2013 – Only 30 Days Left for Early Bird Pricing

Music Editors Notes – A Continuing Success

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Contains over 30 handbell recordings and the digital guide to membership, as well as extra storage for your personal files. Be sure to log in to your member account for discount to appear.


Organizing a Handbell Program-Recruitment and Assimilation

Part of a three-part series of resources by Karen Eastburn on Organizing a Handbell Program. Also available, Mission Aspects of a Handbell Program, and coming soon will be Retention of Ringers.

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National Events


Tell us Your Story!

We all have a story.  How we were first introduced to handbells.  A special performance we participated in.  A new and lasting friendship formed at an event or in a choir.  We want to hear your story and share it with other handbell musicians around the world.

Beginning with the May issue of E-Notes, we will feature a different member’s story each month.   So tell us about you: the handbell program you are part of; how your membership in Handbell Musicians of America has helped your handbell journey; what inspires you as a handbell musician.   Submit your story today to your Regional Membership Coordinator and you may see it in a future issue of E-Notes.

Send submissions via e-mail to the appropriate address below, based on the region where you live.  Include your name, your home city and state, your member number, and your role in handbells.  Keep your story to 300 words or less.  Please also include a photo of yourself that we can include with your story.

Area 1, 2, 3, or 4 – Jon Snyder, [email protected]

Area 5, 6, 7, or 8 – Mary Willadsen, [email protected]

Area 9, 10, 11, or 12 – Ellie Hodder, [email protected]


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National Seminar 2013 – Only 30 Days Left for Early Bird Pricing!

Have you registered for National Seminar yet? You have 30 days to register at the Early Bird rate of $335. After May 15, registrations fees will increase to $400.

Event participants will have numerous opportunities to expand their knowledge of handbells, handchimes and overall musicianship through classes, extended tracks, or our Handbell Musicians Certification program, led by nationally recognized faculty members. The event also features reading sessions highlighting the best music from our handbell music publishers and concert performances by handbell musicians from around the world.

For all the details and to register today, visit

See you in Portland!

Music Notes from John Behnke

A Continuing Success

This month’s highlight is Martha Lynn Thompson’s new reproducible collection, Tunes That Teach 2 (AG012). Martha Lynn says, “the original Tunes That Teach (AG009) had proved useful to beginning choirs, so I decided to write a sequel, making the pieces a little more difficult and longer.  Directors were asking for this second collection, and it was my pleasure to write it.”   Found in this collection are 11 pieces for 2 octaves and 11 pieces for 3 octaves all at Level 2 difficulty. Yes, there are separate arrangements for 2 octave choirs and 3 octave choirs. And all of these are reproducible for the handbell choirs in your specific classroom or church setting.

With 11 pieces in this collection, I asked Martha Lynn if she had any favorites. She said, “It was nice to be free to use more eighth notes and to include different ringing techniques.  This is more of a repertoire collection, since it doesn’t have the exercises and teaching materials found in the first collection.  I was especially pleased with the effectiveness of  ‘Hava Nagila,’ ‘Ukrainian Folk Song,’ and ‘The Virgin Mary Had a Baby Boy.’ They worked, even when using only 2 octaves of bells and at this level of difficulty!”

If you work with children or messy adults, a reproducible collection like this is immensely practical.   When the music gets lost or is crumbled up, it’s easy to walk to the duplicator and make a new copy. And with just one volume, it can sit on your desk and be a ready resource.

Martha Lynn Thompson is well-known in the handbell world. She served as the national secretary of the American Guild of English Handbell Ringers and for two years served on its board of directors.  In 2001 she was granted an Honorary Life membership in the Guild. This status is deemed to be the highest honor which the Guild can bestow and is reserved for individuals of the highest caliber who have made outstanding contributions to the art of handbell ringing.

She says, “In 2002, my husband and I retired from St. James United Methodist Church in Little Rock, Arkansas, where he had been the director of music and I had been the organist since 1969.  We had both directed the 10-12 handbell choirs during those years.  I directed one or more of the children’s bell choirs and worked behind the scenes with him as he directed the older choirs.  When we retired, I got a promotion!  Now, as a volunteer, I get to direct the two adult bell choirs! They are lots of fun and keep me on my toes!”

In her free time, one of Martha Lynn’s hobbies is working with the music notation program, Finale.   Attendees at her Finale classes at National Seminar will attest to her expertise. In fact, even via email she will help you solve your Finale problems. She says, “Although I don’t do as much as I used to, I enjoy sewing. I make all of my clothes and most of my husband’s suits and shirts.”   And for fun, she says, “several years ago Mike Joy got me started working Sudoku puzzles and, to paraphrase what Caspar says in Amahl and the Night Visitors, ‘This is my book. This is my book.  I never travel without my book’ . . .  Sudoku, that is!”

Martha Lynn has presented another incredible collection of great handbell music in Tunes That Teach 2 (AG012). I hope you will take a good long look at this continuing success, right here

Until next month,

John Behnke
Music Editor



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