This Month

David R. Davidson Composition Contest Announced

Virtual Bell Academy – Music Theory Series

Handbell Musician Certification and Instructor Accreditation Event

Accepting Applications for Regional Membership Coordinator

New Payment Address

AGEHR Publishing Reading Session

Music Notes from John Behnke


National Events

to find out more about
all our national events.

Note: Distinctly Bronze registration is full. Waiting list available.

Please consider helping defray the Guild’s
day-to-day expenses
by making a
contribution to


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. Handbell Musician Resources>>

If you’ve not yet seen our first ever Virtual Handbell Ensemble, have a look HERE. Help us get as much exposure as possible by commenting and sharing.


Help build a pension for the Guild, by contributing to the HERITAGE FUND


Please note that any PAYMENTS sent to the Guild should now go to the following address:

Handbell Musicians of America
PO Box 221047 Louisville, KY 40252

This includes membership renewal, contributions, event registration payments, invoice payments, etc.

All GENERAL CORRESPONDENCE that DOES NOT include a check payment should should be sent to:

Handbell Musicians of America
201 E. Fifth Street
Suite 1900-1025
Cincinnati, OH 45202



David R. Davidson Composition Contest Announced

Details for the fourth David R. Davidson Composition Contest are now available at our website.  Davidson Composition Fund was created in 2008 to encourage the composition of original works for advanced ensembles.

The selected composition will be published by AGEHR Music Publishing and premiered at Distinctly Bronze West in 2017, under the direction of Kathleen Ebling Shaw.


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Virtual Bell Academy – Music Theory Series
May 17-July 5, 2016

The first classes from our new Virtual Handbell Academy are coming up in May.  Michael Glasgow has put together an excellent series for the Music Theory novice which is then followed up with course instruction for Music Theory Certification Level 1.

Classes are open to anyone interested, membership is not required.  However, members do receive a discount on registration fees.

Registration is limited to 23 per session – so don’t delay!


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Handbell Musician Certification and Instructor Accreditation Event

Complete all courses required for Handbell Musician Certification Level 1 at an event jointly presented by the national office and Area 8.  In addition, we are inviting those interested in teaching certification courses to apply for Instructor Accreditation.

Join faculty Michael Glasgow, Michele Sharik, and Kermit Junkert in St. Louis, Missouri, June 30-July 2, 2016, for instruction in Music Theory 1, Handbell Techniques 1, and Conducting 1.  A variety of registration options are available.


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Accepting Applications for Regional Membership Coordinator

Handbell Musicians of America is seeking applicants for the position of Regional Membership Coordinator for our East region which includes Area 1, 2, 3, and 4.  Hired from within the membership of that region, this position works with Area leadership and other national staff to encourage member engagement, recruit new members, and assist existing members in making the most of their benefits.


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New Payment Address

Please note that the address for check payments for membership renewal and other services has changed effective immediately.  Please send check payments to:

PO BOX 221047

All other mailed correspondence should continue to be addressed to:

SUITE 1900-1025

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Announcing a FREE AGEHR Publishing Reading Session in St. Louis

A free AGEHR Publishing reading session will be held in St. Louis, Missouri, Saturday morning, April 30, 2016, from 9 to 11 am. at Peace Lutheran Church, 737 Barracksview Rd. St. Louis, MO. This will be a FREE hands-on reading session for directors and interested ringers where you can play through the latest AGEHR music and learn some new techniques. Music Editor, John Behnke, will be the clinician. At the end of the session, music will be for sale at a discount price. Please register by visiting or call 314-892-5610

Music Notes from John Behnke

We All Need A Little “Peace” In Our Lives

If you watch the TV newscasts, you see unrest and war in many places around the globe.  People are fleeing oppression and violence and they are longing for peace in their lives.   How does one musically describe the feeling of peace?   For Joshua Kramer it was a simple lullaby.   The feeling of rocking his child to sleep.

For 2015, AGEHR’s top selling composition was “Peace” AG35339 by Joshua Kramer, for 3 to 5 octaves of handbells, Level 2.   It was a piece written for a graduate handbell composition class at Concordia University Wisconsin in 2013.   Joshua writes, “I remember coming up with the melody as the instructor was giving us a tour of the facility, and having to sing it over and over in my mind until I could scratch it down on paper.  I was so worried I would forget it!”

I asked Joshua what he liked best about his piece.   He said, “I really like the way the melodic motif runs through the whole piece.  But my favorite spot is the ending.  In the ending, I can see the many times I have laid my sleeping son into the crib.”

Sometimes we think that profound music must be difficult and complicated.   That is simply not true.   Profound music comes in all difficulty levels, and “Peace” is a Level 2 piece that only has a few bell changes in measures 55 to 60.  Otherwise, it is a simple, straightforward, and I think, profound piece in C major.

Joshua says, “I didn’t really write ‘Peace’ with any particular choir in mind.  The simplicity of the piece makes it very accessible to beginning and intermediate choirs, but I think advanced choirs might find it useful to create contrast in a program against more complicated music.”    This is Joshua’s second published handbell composition; the first being an arrangement of “Savior of the Nations, Come,” AG35328.    He said, “I’ve actually only heard ‘Peace’ performed by two groups.  The first was by the members of the composition class (what a crazy week that was, writing two pieces and having to learn to ring everyone else’s!).  The second was by the Milwaukee Handbell Ensemble, in which I had the privilege of ringing this past year.  Both groups were very gracious and complimentary of the piece, which is encouraging to a beginning composer like myself.”

The composition has eight measures of introduction, then the melody is presented in the middle bells, measures 9-24.   Next the melody is presented in the upper bells from m. 33 to 48.   Then the composition transitions into A minor, then returns to C major from m. 49-64.  At measure 65, a descant appears with the melody for the final and strongest statement of the tune.   From m. 77 to the end, the piece winds down, with echoing sections of the melody, until its very peaceful end.

Joshua says, “Many people have told me the melody easily gets stuck in their head (which is ironic, considering how worried I was that I’d forget it while walking around the campus that day.”

Joshua Kramer serves as the music coordinator at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, West Bend, Wisconsin, which involves 3 vocal choirs, 3 handbell choirs, 5 organists, school children who sing in church, and a rich pool of instrumentalists and soloists.  I consider myself blessed to be able to serve here, and to work with so many talented and dedicated musicians.  I am married to my wife, Rebecca and have two sons, Isaiah (3), and Ezra (1).  I am nearing completion of a Master’s Degree in Church Music from Concordia University Wisconsin.

He says, “My church duties keep me pretty busy (especially since I also teach 6th grade during the school day).  But when there is time, I have a few “diversions” that I enjoy.  I am an avid Apple enthusiast (ever since I was 5), and often “geek-out” on my Macbook Pro or iPhone.  I am also into sport juggling, and can juggle balls, rings, and clubs (this is good training for the busy schedule I juggle most days) 🙂

If you wish a little “Peace” in your life, take a moment, click on this link, and enjoy Joshua Kramer’s composition, “Peace” AG35339.


Until next month,
John Behnke, Music Editor

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