This Month

National Board Election Results

Virtual Bell Academy – More Classes Coming!

National Seminar – Daily Registration Now Open

Music Notes from John Behnke


National Events

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Please consider helping defray the Guild’s
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Featured Resource

Barbara Brocker teaches you how to use bell trees in various worship settings. Also learn about selecting music and equipment

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.


Watch us break the Guinness World Record for the Largest Handbell Ensemble Nov. 19, 2016 at the Mall of America in Minneapolis, Minnesota.


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

Virtual Bell Academy – More Classes Coming!

The Spring session of our Virtual Bell Academy has had a great start and there are more classes to come – starting tonight!  Participate live or view the recorded class. Choose any or all of these informative classes taught by master instructors:

"Online Learning" on the screen. Woman hands over the keyboard o

  • A Fresh Approach to Rythmic Integrity – Greig Ashurst, April 17, 8:00 PM
  • On Being a Creative Artist and the Composer’s Advocate – Greig Ashurst, April 24, 8:00 PM
  • Ringing Safely: Stance, Seat, & Stroke – Michele Sharik, May 1, 8:00 PM
  • The Right Tool for the Job: Seven Ways to do Four-in-Hand – Michele Sharik, May 8 & May 10, 8:00 PM
  • Four-in-Hand Dexterity Drills – Michele Sharik, May 15, 8:00 PM
  • Full Hands, Full Hearts: Six-in-Hand – Michele Sharik, May 22, 8:00 PM

All times listed are eastern daylight time.

VBA Archives Available

Did you miss one of our previous classes but are still interested in the topic?  Then purchase the archive recording of the class through our online store.  Be sure to login to your member account before purchasing to receive a discount.

See a complete list of all our Virtual Bell Academy courses and registration information here


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National Seminar – Daily Registration Now Open

Join us in sunny California for National Seminar 2017, July 11-15.  Not able to participate all days of the event, then the daily registration option is the way to go!


National Seminar offers handbell musicians of all skill levels opportunities to learn from handbell experts, enjoy amazing concerts, explore new music and products, and network with other musicians from around the world.


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Next Member-Chat: Ringing the National Anthem

Saturday, May 13, 2017 • 1 p.m. Eastern

Join us for the May 13 Member Chat, which will be a panel discussion about ringing the National Anthem at major sporting events. The panel members are Jerry Hill (Area 3 – Washington Nationals), Jeremy Springer (Area 9 – Texas Rangers), Phyllis Kirk (Area 6- University of Alabama Blazers) and Jeannine Holt (Area 11 – Denver Nuggets). Please join us to learn how the panel members planned their respective events AND how much fun these events were for the ringers. We’ll cover the logistics, organizaton and publicity and then take questions from anyone who would like to know more about planning their own National Anthem event.


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Music Notes from John Behnke

A Prayer for You

This month’s featured piece is Erik Whitehill’s “Prayer” AG35348 with the subtitle (“Be Still, My Soul”). It is a wonderful combination of original music and the use of a beloved hymn tune, “Finlandia.” This piece is for 3, 4, or 5 octaves of handbells and is Level 2 in difficulty.

Erik says, “I wrote this piece for my dear friend Michael Glasgow. I began composing the original material and then asked him what hymn tunes he liked. He suggested Finlandia. This is also one of my favorites. It all fell into place and the arrangement was born. The goal was to create a beautiful, uncomplicated, prayerful arrangement.”

The first 14 measures are original; in measure 15 the “Finlandia” tune first appears with the original material appearing as a countermelody. This section lasts through measure 38, where the beginning material appears once more. Erik’s writing has a wonderful contemporary sound which melds so nicely with the well-known “Finlandia” tune. At measure 52, “Finlandia” appears again and with a countermelody option one octave higher and a stronger forte dynamic. Echoes are strategically placed for maximum effect. The tune ends at m. 75, with a coda through measure 82, where a little touch of “Finlandia” is heard.

Erik says, “I began composing the original material and then asked him (Michael) what hymn tunes he liked.  He suggested “Finlandia.”  This is also one of my favorites. It all fell into place and the arrangement was born.  The goal was to create a beautiful, uncomplicated, prayerful arrangement.”

whitehillIf you don’t know Erik, he grew up in Iowa and received his undergraduate degree at Luther College in Decorah, where he studied church music with William Kuhlman, composition with Maurice Monhardt and choral methods/Nordic Choir with Weston Noble. Erik was a full-time church musician at King of Glory Lutheran Church in Tempe, Arizonza, for 11 years where, among many things, he conducted two handbell choirs and played in a third. He says, “I composed and arranged for all three groups.  (This is where my HMA arrangement “There is a Balm in Gilead” was written, AG35324.)”

For the last decade, Erik has been teaching elementary music.  He says, “Earlier this school year, I was presented a Tempe school district excellence award.  A camera crew followed me around for a few days to create a video that explains my philosophy of excellence.  Here is a link to the video (  You will note the use of ToneBells with some of my students!”   In addition, he has been actively composing choral music and children’s musical theater, with published works with Heritage Music Press, Chorister’s Guild and Augsburg Fortress.

The “dirt” on Erik is that he and his cat, Thor, live in an apartment in Chandler, Arizona.  He says, “My spare time these days is spent mostly composing.   I love to read, cook, go out with friends, consume dark beer and red wine, and voraciously catch up with all my shows on Hulu and Netflix.”

I hope you will take a look and listen to “Prayer, (Be Still, My Soul)” AG35348 by Erik Whitehill.  If the lovely original material doesn’t get you, the tune Finlandia surely will.   As Erik says, “it’s beautiful, uncomplicated, and prayerful.”

See and Hear the Music Until next month,
John Behnke, Music Editor

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