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E-Notes January 2016


This Month

Registration for National Seminar opens Feb. 15

Registration opening Feb. 15 for Distinctly Teen with Margi Zearly

Tune in to Our Next MemberChat

Music Notes from John Behnke


National Events

Please consider helping defray the Guild’s
day-to-day expenses
by making a
contribution to


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. 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.


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


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



Registration for National Seminar 2016 Opens February 15

National Seminar heads east in 2016. Join us in Rochester, New York, July 12-16, for our annual event for ALL handbell musicians. Registration opens February 15. Those who pre-registered may complete their registrations beginning February 1.

Participate in educational and engaging classes; enjoy performances by some of our best choirs, ensembles and soloists; browse and shop through exhibit booths from handbell publishers, retailers, manufacturers and more; meet and network with fellow handbell musicians and develop life-long friendships with those that share your enthusiasm and passion for our art.


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Distinctly Teen with Margi Zearly at National Seminar in Rochester, N.Y.
Registration Opens February 15

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 Margi Zearley.

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 National Seminar.  Plus, 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 arranger Nick Hanson.


Join us next month when Margi Zearly will host the February MemberChat. Be sure to watch the website for details.

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Tell Us Your Story

All of us have a story about how handbells have affected our lives and how Handbell Musicians of America has played a part.

Over the last several weeks in December, we shared the stories of other handbell musicians and how Handbell Musicians of America has helped them develop their skill and passion for our art. These appeared on our website and through a series of e-mails.

We would like to invite you to tell us YOUR story. Email it to us at [email protected]. You might see it on our website or on our Facebook page—or perhaps in a future issue of Overtones.


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Music Notes from John Behnke

Time to Celebrate!

There is no doubt that bells and chimes were ringing and ringing during the holidays this past month. But January brings the start of a new year, 2016, and another time to celebrate!

Our featured piece this month is “Celebration for New Day,” AG35336. It’s a Level 2 piece for 3-5 octaves of handbells. It’s an original composition by Susan Wise Carl, a new composer to our AGEHR catalog.

I asked Susan what inspired her to write this piece. She said, “Our church’s upcoming 50th anniversary gave me an idea to compose a celebratory handbell piece. I had never composed anything before but thought I’d give it a go. With some divine inspiration and using my musical instincts, it happened! I dedicated ‘Celebration for a New Day’ to my handbell choir, Faith Lutheran’s Praise Ringers of Golden, Colorado, who bravely kept up ringing three years without a director before I arrived.” This picture is of the Praise Ringers and director, Susan Wise Carl in pink.

The piece is in ABA form. Susan said, “I like the beginning because it signifies a rejoicing mood using upward martilattos and a soaring melody. It’s supposed to signify sunrise and a new start. The ending packs a punch with a high bell ostinato and ring-touch ending. It’s intended to spread excitement and optimism.”

The piece is easily accessible for any choir. So much so, that Susan said, “it was performed last Easter Sunday by a combined children’s and adult handbell ensemble.” This piece is versatile and could work in either a sacred or secular setting. She said, “I’ve heard it played three times, and thankfully, all the feedback was enthusiastic.”

If you don’t know Susan, here’s some info. This is her first published piece with AGEHR Publishing. Susan says, “I work at Christ the King Catholic Church, a 1500 member congregation in Denver. Two of us (both Protestants) lead the entire music program. My role is organist as well as working with children’s choirs – both singers and ringers. I feel fortunate to be in a creative, vibrant music program well supported by the priest and parishioners!”

When she’s not making music, she has been involved in organizing an AGO Pedals, Pipes and Pizza event to introduce young pianists to the pipe organ, involved in a book club, and spoiling her dog. She lives with my husband In Arvada, and has a grown daughter working on a Masters degree in Boston.

Celebrate the New Year 2016 with a new celebratory piece by Susan Wise Carl. Take a look and a listen to “Celebration for a New Day,” AG35336 by clicking on this link below.


Thanks for reading my E-Notes column.
Until next month,
John Behnke, Music Editor

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