This Month

New Virtual Bell Academy Classes for 2019

Don’t Miss Out on Our Newest Event, Reaching for Bronze

Spaces Still Open for DB East in June

Nominations Open for National Board Election

John Behnke’s Music Notes


National Events

GO HERE to find out more about all our national events.

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Upgrade your membership to SUSTAINING PARTNER and play an important role in ensuring the future of Handbell Musicians of America. As a SUSTAINING PARTNER

  • You are CONNECTED to the handbell community
  • You are IN PARTNERSHIP with other handbell musicians
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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

New Virtual Bell Academy Classes for 2019

We are pleased to offer the following classes for Spring 2019. Classes include The Fundamentals of Music with Kathy Kellum, Maintaining a Successful Church-Based Handbell Program (multi-class series) with Brian Childers, and Grant Writing for Handbell Ensembles with Derek Nance.  All classes are one-hour, live webinars. You have the option of registering for the live webinar or purchasing the video of the session from the VBA Archive in our online store.  All who register for a class will also receive a link to the video recording.

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Don’t Miss Out on Our New Companion Event to Distinctly Bronze East

Have you wanted to apply for Distinctly Bronze but worry you are not yet at the skill level to be accepted? We’ve created this event just for you.

There are still spots open for you to hone your skills and get a taste of performing with Distinctly Bronze. Scheduled concurrently (June 7-9) with Distinctly Bronze East, this new event will give participants the opportunity to learn three pieces from the DB East rep list under the direction of master teacher and conductor Michael Joy and perform them with the DB musicians on their final concert. In addition, the Reaching for Bronze choirs will prepare and perform two pieces of their own.

During the event, instruction will be offered in building skills in treble, bass and battery techniques, as well as improving all aspects of musicianship.

Reaching for Bronze Info & Registration

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Spaces Still Open for Distinctly Bronze East in June

We are still accepting ringers for Distinctly Bronze East, which was rescheduled for June 6-9 in Raleigh, North Carolina. The massed ringing event for advanced handbell musicians which provides the opportunity to perform on the largest handbell sets available under the direction of Lee Afdahl.

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Now Accepting Nominations for National Board

Who should serve on the next national board of directors of the Handbell Musicians of America? Whoever it is, YOU will play a vital and essential role.

The board of directors consists of a president, president-elect, and five at-large directors as the voting members. Each member serves a six-year term. The executive director is a non-voting participant. Additionally, a board-appointed secretary serves without voice or vote. The term of the current board expires September 30, 2020. At that time, P.L Grove (president), Derek Nance, and Jennifer Vangolen (at-large directors) will be replaced by a new president-elect and two new at-large directors. Those new members will join Bill Mathis, Linda Minnotte, and Kyle Webber. Jill Fedon will be our new president. Board members serve without compensation but are reimbursed for expenses directly related to their board responsibilities.


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Music Notes from John Behnke

With the Encouragement of Others

For someone who writes music, it is not uncommon for someone to say, “You should make an arrangement of this one.” Everyone has their favorites that they wish to hear and play.

Our featured piece this month is Sweet Hour of Prayer, AG35378, a new 3-5 octaves, Level 2 arrangement by Brenda E. Austin. When asked what inspired her to write this piece, she said, “A couple in my bell choir, that actively supports me and the music ministry at the church, hinted repeatedly that ‘Sweet Hour of Prayer’ would make a lovely handbell arrangement. I wholeheartedly agreed, and I set out to write an arrangement.”

She went on to say, “I have always enjoyed this hymn, but admittedly it makes me feel a little guilty. I have trouble spending 60 seconds in prayer, let alone 60 minutes! But, God knows, I am a work in progress. Perhaps the hour is not spent in silent meditation, but rather in struggle and grappling with the things that we cannot understand.”

The arrangement begins with 8 measures of introduction. Then the melody appears in C major; at times the melody is in the treble clef and later in the bass; finishing up back in the treble. Then there is a 6 measure transition to a section where the hymn is presented in C minor. In measure 70, the key moves back to C major and the melody reappears in measure 78. Measure 86 to the end presents a coda where the last melody phrase appears in the stems down treble clef and then again in the stems up treble clef.

Brenda said, “My favorite part of my arrangement of Sweet Hour of Prayer is at measure 48 where it changes to a minor key. Many times we pray because our hearts are heavy. In our greatest hour of need we turn to God, and seek peace and understanding. I hope that this arrangement mirrors the arc that our prayers can take; opening, supplication, struggle and peace.”

Brenda is very active in music. She says, “these days I do church music ministry at First United Methodist Church in Easton Rapids, MI. (3 bell choirs, a praise band, and a lot of worship planning). I drive to Detroit once a week to rehearse with the Detroit Handbell Ensemble and I am about to audition kids for a community children’s theatre production of Annie Kids. Last year we had 116 children audition. Given that there are less than 5000 people in the entire town, I find this fact to be extraordinary. I am beginning to pick up the reigns of Handbell Editor for Hope Publishing with the Agape catalogue. The people at Hope are wonderful, and I am so excited to join that awesome team.”

In her rare free moments, Brenda enjoys running and gardening. But as a single mom with 3 kids and 3 jobs, she says mostly, “I attend a lot of marching band performances, band/choir concerts, solo & ensemble and dance competitions.” And with the encouragement of others, she arranges favorite hymns for handbells and we are very glad that she does.   

Please take a look and listen to Brenda’s arrangement of Sweet Hour of Prayer, AG35378, for 3-5 octaves, Level 2.

See & Hear the Music

Until next month,
Happy Ringing!

John Behnke, Music Editor

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