This Month

Regional Membership Coordinators Added to National Staff

Virtual Handbell Ensemble Deadline Approaching!

National Seminar Goes West – Registration Now Open

Music Editors Notes – Heavenly Inspiration for 201

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The Care and Feeding of Youth Handbell ChoirsIn “The Care and Feeding of Yourth Handbell Choirs,” Karen Thompson leads you through the steps of developing and maintaining a program for youth.

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National Events


Regional Membership Coordinators Added to National Staff

Applications Being Accepted Now!

To better serve our membership on the grass-roots level, we are adding three new Regional Membership Coordinators to the national staff. Each coordinator will cover four Areas and will be hired from within the membership of their region.

Responsibilities include (but are not limited to):

  • Work with the national office and the Area boards for their region to develop strategies for retaining and growing the membership of their region
  • Assist Area boards, particularly membership directors, in accessing membership lists through the national membership database for the purpose of communicating with the membership of their region: welcoming new members, following up with lapsed members, sharing information about benefits and resources with existing members, recruiting potential future leaders, etc.
  • Identify potential new member candidates and work with Area boards and volunteers to convert those candidates to actual members
  • Work with the national staff to assist the membership in their region with general membership questions and concerns
  • Some travel will be required to visit Area & National events and meetings
  • This position reports directly to the executive director

Each Regional Membership Coordinator will be compensated as follows:

  • $6,500 annually as a contract employee paid bi-weekly
  • Year-end bonuses will be awarded based on net-membership growth within their region
  • A fixed expense account will be provided for travel and other expenses related to performing duties of the job
  • Estimated work-load 10-15 hours per week on average

To apply for this position, send your resume and a cover letter explaining your qualifications for the job to the executive director at [email protected] DEADLINE FOR APPLICATION IS FEBRUARY 11, 2013. TARGET HIRE/START DATE IS MARCH 1. All applicants will be reviewed and qualified candidates will be reviewed by a committee of national board members and the executive director.

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Virtual Handbell Ensemble – Deadline Approaching!

Virtual Handbell Ensemble is an exciting new project of the Handbell Musicians of America, in which you will have the opportunity to perform a new work of music via video uploads. Misterium, by James Meredith, consists of 135 musical segments to be recorded separately by individuals and small groups of players from around the world over a seven month period and uploaded to the web. All of the segments will be assembled by the editing videographer and the composer into the final work to be premiered on July 27, 2013, at National Seminar in Portland, Oregon.

Virtual Handbell Ensemble

The players may opt to record any or all of the individual segments to the set tempo of the click tracks, which can be downloaded along with the segments HERE.

Except for the segments needing more than one person, most are meant to be performed standing away from tables. We encourage you to be creative in your filming. Find a place as quiet as possible indoors or out. Choose a background which does not detract from you. You may film very close up, at a distance, from the side, front or overhead but make your performance interesting. The more interesting, the more likely your clips will be prominent in the final video collage. In other words, don’t look like robotic automatons! Let’s show the world how exciting handbells can be to watch and listen.

After the online premiere, the score will be published so that any groups interested can perform the work designed for double ensemble.

So, grab your cameras, round up your handbell buddies, and start recording. The deadline for submissions is March 1, 2013.

See all the details, including a video welcome and invitation from Jim Meredith, HERE.

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National Seminar goes West – Registration Now Open!

Follow the Oregon Trail and find us in beautiful, scenic Portland, Oregon, for our National Seminar, July 24-27. Event activities will take place at the Oregon Convention Center, while registrants will be housed at our official event hotel, the Hilton Portland & Executive Tower, a national historic landmark hotel.

Event participants will have numerous opportunities to expand their knowledge of handbells, handchimes, and overall musicianship through classes, extended tracks, or our Handbell Musician Certification program, led by nationally recognized faculty members; as well as reading sessions highlighting the best music from our handbell publishers; concert performances by handbell musicians from all over the world; and multiple occasions for networking and “rubbing elbows” with fellow handbell musicians.

See all the details and register today at

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Music Notes from John Behnke

Heavenly Inspiration for 2013

It’s amazing that 2012 has come and gone and that we are now solidly into 2013! The expression is true that “time flies.” This month’s
featured piece is Ron Mallory’s setting of Johann Sebastian Bach’s chorale prelude, “Dearest Jeus, We Are Here” AG35311 for 3-5 octaves of bells or handchimes, Level 2. In German, the title is “Liebster Jesu, wir sind hier.”

I know you all like the “dirt” on each piece, so I asked Ron where he got the idea of arranging this Bach prelude for handbells. He said, “Bach’s beautiful ‘Liebster Jesu, wir sind hier’ has always been one of my favorite works to play on the organ. In 2006 I visited Germany, touring a number of famous sites from music and Reformation history, and was given the wonderful opportunity to play this piece on the organ in the famous Castle Church in Wittenberg (where Luther nailed up his “95 Theses”). I’ve heard various instrumental and vocal adaptations of the piece over the years–one of my favorites is the recording by the Swingle Singers–and felt it was time we had a version for handbells.”

I’ve always thought that Bach sounds great on handbells. If he had a set of handbells years ago, do you think he would have arranged music for them? Without a doubt!

I asked Ron, if there were any parts he particularly liked. Ron said, “I’ve always been in awe of Bach’s ability to take a simple hymn tune and turn it into a true work of art, whether in his cantatas or his chorale preludes for organ. I love how ‘Liebster Jesu’ unfolds gradually and grows continually from beginning to end, and I’m glad that quality transferred well to handbells. And this arrangement also works well with handchimes, which evoke something of the sound and tone of the piece’s roots in organ music.”

I would totally agree and suggest that you and your choir experiment with which your choir likes more, playing it on bells, or playing it on handchimes. If you listen to our demo recording, you will hear it played by both handbells and handchimes.

Now for the juicy stuff, Ron grew up in Orange County, California, but for the past twelve years has lived in Maple Valley, Washington, a suburb of Seattle. He teaches handbell classes at Forest Ridge School of the Sacred Heart in Bellevue, and directs the choir at Living Word Lutheran Church in Puyallup. His undergraduate degree is in music composition, and his master’s degree is in choral conducting. He recently got married to his beautiful wife, Emily, whom he met at the 2009 National Seminar in Tucson. “Proof” he says, “that playing handbells can change your life!” I think we would all agree with that.

Ron enjoys reading, traveling, and outdoor activities like skiing and hiking here in the great Northwest. But his main interest outside of music is astronomy. He was actually an astrophysics major for a while in college (before settling on music), and has built two telescopes. To this day he says he loves scanning the night skies, and draws a lot of inspiration for his compositions from the glory of God’s amazing universe.

I hope you and all your ringers will also find inspiration and beauty ringing “Dearest Jesus, We Are Here,” AG35311, $3.95, right here starting 2013. Take a listen HERE. May the stars align perfectly for all of us in the bell world. With good wishes for 2013!

Until next month,
John Behnke
Music Editor

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