This Month

Pinnacle 2015 Registration Now Open

Distinctly Registration Now Open

State of the Guild Report

Next MemberChat

Announcing Location for National Seminar 2016

Music Notes from John Behnke


National Events

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


Member Rewards

Members, be sure to log in BEFORE making the purchase and the discount will automatically be applied.


Organizing a Handbell Program-Recruitment and Assimilation

Download files to print your own flash cards and use the included fun and educational games to strengthen rhythm skills in four levels.

Visit 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.




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

Handbell Musicians of America
PO Box 145400
Mail Location 521
Cincinnati, OH 45250

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



Pinnacle 2015 Registration Now Open

Join us in Dallas, Texas, this July and experience the pinnacle of handbell performance and musicianship.  Enjoy unmatched opportunities to see outstanding concerts, learn from experienced faculty, shop in Handbell Industry exhibits, and network with handbell musicians from around the world.  Plus, new this year, immerse yourself in the operation and activities of some of the very best and most successful handbell ensembles performing today by participating in any of our Professional Intensives.  See all the details at

Pinnacle Features

  • CLASSES focused on improving your skills as a handbell musician and as a performer for any venue – concert hall, school auditorium, or church sanctuary.
  • Nightly FEATURE performances demonstrating the diverse performance styles and genres possible with the handbell art form
  • Daily SHOWCASE concerts providing more performance opportunities for choirs, ensembles, and soloists in a variety to genres from all over the world.

New for Pinnacle 2015: Professional Intensives

How do community handbell ensembles take the step to the next level and become professional? How have the Raleigh Ringers raised funds to purchase their own building? How did Sonos sign with a booking agent? How do the Agape Ringers manage concerts, workshops and recordings? Spend an intense, four-hour session with one or all of these long-established handbell ensembles and learn about their inner-workings, history, and current practices that make them successful Professional handbell ensembles.

A different Professional Intensive will be offered each of the first three mornings of Pinnacle. Those who choose to participate will do so in place of other morning options offered that day. Class sessions effected are: Thursday – Session 1 & 2, Friday – Session 5 & 6, and Saturday – Session 9 & 10.


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Distinctly Teen Registration Now Open

Distinctly Teen is designed for individual young ringers (8th-12th grade) who wish to stretch their ringing skills and challenge their musicianship. Participants will spend 2 ½ days working on intermediate to advanced repertoire and developing skills in handbell technique and general musicianship under the leadership of Nick Hanson.

The event schedule will combine dedicated rehearsal time for Distinctly Teen with the opportunity to attend classes offered as part of the Handbell Musicians of America Pinnacle. New this year, attendees who register by March 15 will get to help choose a pop tune that will be specially arranged for the Distinctly Teen ensemble by Nick Hanson.

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Deadline for Distinctly Teen Student Conductor Program Application is MARCH 1

We have a new opportunity for a student conductor this year.Are you interested in pursuing music and handbells beyond high school?  Would you like to conduct one of the pieces played by the Distinctly Teen ensemble in the concert at Pinnacle in Dallas?  If you plan to study music in college and want to be considered for this opportunity, simply indicate so on your event registration.

Those who register and express interest by March 1 will be sent application and audition materials. Candidates will be asked to complete a questionnaire, provide 2 references, and record a video audition.  The student selected will work with Nick Hanson to prepare God Rest Merry, Gentlemen (see repertoire details on the Distinctly Teen website at the link below) for the event where they will lead rehearsals of that piece and conduct it in the final concert.


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State of the Guild

In the January/February issue of Overtones you will find a State of the Guild report by executive director Jennifer Cauhorn. It includes information about our current financial situation and other national updates.

This report is available as a stand-alone PDF file by clicking the link below.


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March MemberChat

Chat with the President featuring Handbell Musicians of America President Ed Rollins

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be on the board of Handbell Musicians of America?  Are you curious about how the board functions, works with National staff and supports Area activities?  Are you interested in hearing plans for the future of Handbell Musicians of America?

Register to be one of 23 members included in the conversation for the March 16 MemberChat with National Board President Ed Rollins at 5 pm EST.


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National Seminar 2016 Event Site Announced

Handbell Musicians of America is excited to announce the dates and site for National Seminar 2016.  For the first time ever, we will take our annual event to Rochester, New York, July 12-16, 2016.  All event activities will take place at the Rochester Riverside Convention Center and at our host hotel, the Hyatt Regency Rochester.

Learn more about our 2016 Host City Here

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Music Notes from John Behnke

New Things Come in Spring

In the coming days, Spring will arrive and there will be new life springing to life. This month I’d like to feature a wonderful new Level 2 arrangement of the spiritual, “There is a Balm in Gilead” by Erik Whitehill. Erik says, “I wrote this arrangement for the Joy Ringers at King of Glory Lutheran Church in Tempe, AZ. I was the Associate Director of Music at the time and directed the group. I wanted to arrange a spiritual for them. I have loved “There is a Balm in Gillead” with its poignant, peace-bringing message and found it to be a meaningful choice for the group. The piece is dedicated to two very important people in my life. The first is Carole Lea Arenson, my long-time mentor and friend and former King of Glory music ministry colleague and the second is Kim Cramer, a wonderful church musician friend at St. Luke Lutheran Church in Mesa, Arizona.

The first eight measures present a wonderful introductory musical idea that is used to unify the piece. The melody of the spiritual begins in measure 9. When the melody ends, the introductory theme returns to move us to the stanza. There is one and only one key change from D major to E flat major, and it’s a great place to teach how to work with bell changes. When the music modulates up to E flat major, there is a heightening of the arrangement. It’s not only a beautiful arrangement but it’s a wonderful teaching piece that is relatively easy to learn and play in Lent. Erik says, “my favorite part is the theme that opens the piece and serves as the transition between the statements of the spiritual melody.” I totally agree and I know you will too.

Erik Whitehill is new to the AGEHR catalog. He says, “i grew up in Council Bluffs, Iowa and graduated from Luther College with a music degree. After graduation, I moved to Tempe, AZ and served as Associate Director of Music Ministry at King of Glory Lutheran Church for 11 years. In my time at King of Glory, I directed two handbell ensembles and played in a third. I did quite a bit of handbell arranging in those years and am happy to get an arrangement published! Hopefully it will be the first of many! For the last 8 years I have taught in the Tempe Elementary School District. I am delighted to say that I have musical theater and choral works being published in the near future by Choristers Guild and Heritage Music Press. I already have work published at Augsburg Fortress and Falls House Press (Theodore Presser). When I am not doing musical things, I like to read, binge watch television shows, drink fantastic hard cider and play Bananagrams.” Now you really have the “dirt” on this new composer, Erik Whitehill.

One of my great joys as Music Editor is helping new composers take their handbell arrangements and compositions from manuscript to the published piece for all of us to enjoy. I invite you to explore this new piece of a new handbell arrangement by a new composer. And all of us will look forward to more new arrangements and compositions in the future.


Until next month,

John Behnke, Music Editor

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