This Month

Pinnacle 2015 Information Now Online

New for Pinnacle 2015: Professional Intensives

Distinctly Teen Details Online

New Student Conductor Option for Distinctly Teen

Music Notes from John Behnke


National Events

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


Member Rewards

Register for DISTINCTLY TEEN between February 2 and February 15 and save $15.  Once logged in to member account, use code Teen2015


Organizing a Handbell Program-Recruitment and Assimilation

“Retention of Ringers” continues Karen Eastburn’s “Organizing a Handbell Program” series by offering suggestions to help retain those ringers whom you have successfully recruited.

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 Website Now Up
Registration Opens Tuesday for Pre-Registrants

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 Information Now Online

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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Announcing Student Conductor Program for Distinctly Teen

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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Music Notes from John Behnke

New Year 2015

NEW YEAR 2015 Each new year presents new opportunities and new adventures for us. Each new year is also a blessing to be cherish and enjoyed. This month’s featured piece is Jason Krug’s With Quiet Grace, AG35325, for 3-5 octaves of handbells, optional 3 octaves of handchimes, and optional flute. It is Level 3+ difficulty. Jason writes that he was “approached to write this piece by a church handbell choir who had lost a member, a lovely young woman named Shannon who died at the age of 22 from a rare form of cancer. As I talked with the choir director and read some of the letters and eulogies that were read at Shannon’s funeral, I started to get a picture of just what a beautiful person she was and how much impact she had on those around her in her few short years on Earth. There was never any question that this piece would be a celebration of life, and so nearly the whole way through it remains upbeat and hopeful.” Jason goes on to say, that the title With Quiet Grace is a “reflection of a young woman who embraced her life for what it was and how long it was, and did so while having a tremendous positive impact on all those around her. It is that sense of quiet grace that really touched me the most in Shannon’s story; that despite the hand she was dealt in life, she made the most of it … which, after all, is really all any of us can do, whether we live to be twenty-two or ninety-two.”

It’s at this point where I would invite you to read the remainder of the column while listening to this piece. You can watch and listen on YouTube HERE, or if you prefer to just listen the sound file HERE.

The piece begins with a melody built from two notes, F5 and G5, “which were Shannon’s notes in the choir.” Jason says, “Shannon also played flute, so a flute part was added. Those two parts — F/G5 and the flute — become ‘Shannon’s voice’ throughout the song. During the intense middle section, which I think of as her struggle with her cancer, the flute is in a low register and struggling against the bells, while the F/G5 are the lone voice on chimes, likewise battling the bells. The piece ends with neither the flute nor the F/G5, although the rest of the ensemble is playing the chord influenced by the F5 G5 motif, just as Shannon, though no longer with us, has had a profound effect on the rest of the world, including a handbell composer from several states away who never had the opportunity to meet her.”

Jason says, “One of my most treasured possessions — one that always sits beside my workspace where I compose — is a handwritten note from Shannon’s family that they wrote to me after the premiere thanking me for the piece. It warms my heart to think my music has had such an impact on people I’ve never met.”

I know you will agree with me as you listen that this is truly beautiful music. It is music that transports us and allows us to experience beauty. I hope you will consider choosing this piece to add to your choir’s repertoire in this New Year and in the Epiphany season.

If you don’t know Jason Krug, he says “my wife and I have been a couple since December of 1995, when we were seniors in high school. We dated through the second half of senior year, and all the way through college, though she went to school in Indianapolis and I went to school in Boston. We got married just after we graduated in 2000, so we’re coming up on fifteen years married and twenty years as a couple.”

When Jason isn’t arranging or composing music (which isn’t very often), he can be found writing fiction. Working on his young adult fantasy series is something he enjoys, having two books already in print and available online, and others in various stages of editing and completion.

May 2015 be a beautiful year for all of us as we try to impact those around us in meaningful ways.

Until next month,
John Behnke, Music Editor

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