This Month

National Seminar: Registration for Pre-Registrants Now Open

Introducing Online Voting for National Election 2014

Celebrate our Diamond Jubilee with a Commemorative Handbell from Malmark

Music Notes from John Behnke

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Get to know all of our candidates for the national board of directors at, and be sure to vote starting March 1.

National Events

Registration for the 16th International Handbell Symposium in Jeju, Korea is now open. Please GO HERE for details.

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


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.

Member Rewards


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>>


National Seminar: Registration for Pre-Registrants Now Open. General Registration begins Feb. 1

Atlanta, Georgia, will be all aglitter this year as Handbell Musicians of America celebrates its Diamond Jubilee at National Seminar 2014. We will commemorate this momentous occasion in many ways throughout the event. More details will be shared as we get closer to the event, but here’s just a little bit of what we have planned:

  • Our traditional closing banquet will become an Opening Banquet where our next Honorary Life Award will be presented and new national board members will be introduced.
  • Registration will become a party with a special welcome reception. Journey through some of the highlights of our 60-year history and pick up the various parts of your registration packet along the way while you greet friends, old and new. Don’t even think about arriving late for this one!
  • The final night of the event will be a Birthday Celebration filled with food, fun and, of course, cake. The celebration will focus around our annual Silent Auction, benefiting our new Heritage Endowment Fund and featuring a wide variety of items up for bid.

If you pre-registered for Seminar, you can complete your registration now at General registration begins Feb. 1.

Join us for this special celebration of our 60-year history and all the usual top-notch learning experiences and fine performances.

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Introducing Online Voting for National Election 2014

At the end of September, we will say farewell to three national board members who have served Handbell Musicians of America for the past six years; president Lee Afdahl and at-large members Stephanie Wiltse and Phil Roberts. National elections will take place in March to determine the three who will join ongoing board members Ed Rollins (who becomes president on October 1), Stephanie Rhoades, Steve Shorney, and Jessica Westgard.

Seeking a three-year term as president-elect, which will cycle into a three-year term as president are Tracy DePue and P.L Grove. Running for the two open at-large positions are Rick Heine, Derek Nance, Claudette Rothwell, and Jennifer Vangolen.

To streamline the process and make it easier for all members to make their selection, voting will be handled through a new online ballot designed specially for us by Z2 Systems, creators and administrators of NEON, the database system that manages our membership, event registration, online store, and much more. Working with the developers at Z2 Systems, we have designed a secure system that verifies membership, ensures only one vote per member, and locks out back-end ballot access by anyone (even staff and system administrators) during the voting period, which prevents any tampering with election results.

Voting will begin March 1, but we encourage you to learn more about the candidates as well as our new online voting system now. Voting instructions can be found at You can read about all of our candidates and view video interviews with at

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Celebrate our Diamond Jubilee with
Commemorative Handbell

Handbell Musicians of America turns 60 in 2014.  Commemorate this milestone with a specially designed handbell from Malmark which also supports our Heritage Fund with a 20% contribution for every bell sold. This bell features a beautifully engraved authentic Malmark C6 casting featuring the Handbell Musicians of America Logo to commemorate their 60th anniversary.The casting is combined with a Surlan gold ribbon inlaid handle, a gold silk screened lexan handguard, and an acrylic ball clapper. This dual purpose bell will let everyone know that you support Handbell Musicians of America while adding charm to any table, desk, or mantel.

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Music Notes from John Behnke

New Year, New Inspiration!

Five, four, three, two, one.. Happy New Year! It’s the end of one year and the beginning of another.   And it’s a time to reflect on the joys and sorrows of what we have experienced.

With a text that originated around 1200 and a tune that was written by Hans Leo Hassler in 1601, our highlighted piece this month, a new handbell arrangement of “O Sacred Head, Now Wounded” by Nancy Norman, AG35317, is a hymn that has endured for generations.  It’s a hymn that has inspired many over the course of time.

I asked Nancy what inspired her to write this arrangement, and she said at first she was working on a setting of a different hymn, “Neumark – If You But Trust in God to Guide You.” But she was not satisfied with it because, she said, “‘Neumark’ was never a part of her religious upbringing. I didn’t have the emotional connection to it that I usually like to have with my music. So I started researching hymnals to see what other hymn would work with the original materials I had… and I was drawn to ‘O Sacred Head, Now Wounded.'”

I asked her what she liked the best in her arrangement and she said, “I am very fond of the original material and how it integrates with the hymn. I like the time signature changes from 4/4 to 3/4 and the motion, as well as the emotion that is conveyed through the music. I hope others will find it as stirring as I do.”

Nancy Norman is from Evanston, Illinois, and loves to compose and arrange for handbells. She plays handbells at St. Nicholas Church during the major Holy Days. She says, “we have a handful of players that ring as part of the instrumental accompaniment during the services.” Her musical background began at the age of 7 with piano lessons from Helen M. Nash, a private music teacher in her home town of Buffalo, New York. She continued taking lessons through her college years. In 1980, she moved to Chicago and bought an Apple II+ computer and a Syntauri Music System. (Remember those?) She says, “with these tools at hand, I began to experiment with arranging and composing. I also used computers, and now iPads, to help children with special needs experience making music. Music and computers have enriched my life and I am grateful that I can share that with others.”

When Nancy is not composing and arranging music, she enjoys playing golf during warmer weather, practices Tai Chi, and likes to read non-fiction books.

If you are looking for inspiration and emotional connection for this new year, look and listen to Nancy Norman’s arrangment of the Passion Chorale, O Sacred Head, Now Wounded at    It is for 3-5 octaves of handbells, Level 2+ in difficulty.

Until next month,

John Behnke, Music Editor

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