This Month

Farewell Rochester

Call for Submissions for National Seminar 2017 in Anaheim, California

David R. Davidson Composition Contest

Back to Bells 2016

Seeking Nominations for Honorary Life Membership Award and National Board Elections

Music Notes from John Behnke


National Events

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Organizing a Handbell Program-Recruitment and Assimilation

Part of a three-part series of resources by Karen Eastburn on Organizing a Handbell Program. Also available, Mission Aspects of a Handbell Program, and Retention of Ringers. 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 221047 Louisville, KY 40252

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



Farewell Rochester

Handbell musicians had a wonderful time last week in Rochester, New York, at National Seminar 2016. We heard concerts featuring all styles of music, recounting contributions made by early handbell pioneers, and showcasing new styles of ringing. A full lineup of classes kept attendees busy learning things old and new.

It’s never too early to start thinking about next year’s National Seminar, “Find the Magic in Ringing,” in Anaheim, California, home of Disneyland, “where dreams come true.”

Young handbell musicians will want to plan for this one as well, as Distinctly Teen will return with exciting and high-energy conductor Hart Morris.

Look for our pre-registration special in August and plan to Find the Magic in Ringing in Anaheim next summer.

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Call for Faculty & Performers for National Seminar 2017

The National Seminar planning committee is seeking submissions from those interested in sharing their talents and expertise at our annual event. The event is scheduled for July 11-15 at the Hyatt Regency Orange County in Garden Grove, California.

SUBMISSION DEADLINE is October 15, 2016.

See complete details and application forms below:

Faculty/Class Submissions

  • Those submitting must have their own individual Handbell Musician membership or be the primary contact for an organization’s Handbell Musician membership.
  • Consider all aspects of handbell musicianship in all settings as you develop your class ideas. The committee strives to select a wide variety of classes for all constituencies of our membership.
  • Those submitting more than one class topic will be given priority consideration.
  • Those interested in teaching at the event must submit a separate Class Submission Application for each class topic/idea they would like to present. Download the Class Submission Application by clicking the application button below. Completed applications must be emailed to [email protected].
  • Any applicant who has not taught at a National Seminar or Pinnacle in the past three years (since Atlanta 2014) must provide two letters of reference from individuals who have observed the applicant teaching within the past 12 months. These letters must be sent directly to [email protected] by the person providing the reference.
  • Deadline for submission is October 15. Applicants will be notified of committee selections by January 1, 2017
  • Questions regarding the process should be directed to [email protected].


Performer Submissions

  • Those submitting must have a Handbell Musician membership in the name of the performer or performing group.
  • We will be selecting performers for both evening and day-time concerts.
  • The committee strives to select performers that represent all areas of Guild membership. Performers from worship settings, schools, and the community, as well as youth, adult, soloists, small ensembles, and other unique combinations, will all be considered.
  • Those interested must complete a Performer Submission Application which is available by clicking the application button below. The completed application must be emailed to [email protected].
  • A link to a recently recorded audition video.  See additional criteria in the submission application.
  • Deadline for submission is October 15. Applicants will be notified of committee selections by January 1, 2017.
  • Questions regarding the process should be directed to [email protected].

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David R. Davidson Composition Contest

We are still accepting submission for the fourth David R. Davidson Composition Contest. Details are available at our website.  Davidson Composition Fund was created in 2008 to encourage the composition of original works for advanced ensembles.

The selected composition will be published by AGEHR Publishing and premiered at Distinctly Bronze West in 2017, under the direction of Kathleen Ebling Shaw.


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Back to Bells Registration to Open Soon

Our 2016 Back to Bells workshops will soon be open for registration.  These free, four-hour workshops are designed for new and beginning handbell programs and will provide basic training on everything you need to start and advance your handbell program.

Workshops are open to members and non-members alike – so help spread the word!  See a complete list of dates and locations, links to registration, and other event details at   Don’t see a workshop offered near you?  Then contact [email protected] to request one.


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Seeking Nominations for Honorary Life Membership Award and National Board Elections

Handbell Musicians of America is seeking nominations for the next Honorary Life Membership Award which will be announced in 2017.  This award is given to an individual who has made outstanding contributions to the art of handbell ringing. The recipient is selected from nominations submitted by our membership to an anonymous award committee, chaired by president-elect, P.L. Grove.  This committee reviews all submissions and provides recommendations to the national board which makes the final selection. See complete details and the nomination form at the link below.


We are also seeking nominations for the national board election which will take place in March of 2017.  In this election, the members will select a president-elect and three at-large members to replace current president Ed Rollins and at-large members, Stephanie Rhoades, Steve Shorney, and Jessica Westgard Larson.  See complete details and a nomination form at the link below.


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Music Notes from John Behnke

The JOY in My Job

One of the great joys I have as the music editor for AGEHR Publishing is to bring a new composer’s music to publication. Such a new composer is this month’s featured composer, Elizabeth Peters, and her newly-published AGEHR piece, “Joy!” AG35350. It’s a Level 3 piece for 3-5 octaves of handbells.

If you were at the National Seminar in Rochester, New York (and I hope you were), you got to hear “Joy!”  live, in concert by the Three Rivers Ringers of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Elizabeth Peters plays in that fine group. Elizabeth (Liz) writes, “ Our artistic director, Nancy Lutz, and our associate director, Andy Seay, alway keep us on our toes with challenging repertoire.”

So what inspired Liz to write this piece? She says, “I’m involved in a number of handbell choirs at Southminster Presbyterian Church in Mt. Lebanon (ringing, leading, substituting, arranging, whatever I can do).  Because we have such a wide range of ages, skill levels, and number of ringers between the different groups, we’ll sometimes find ourselves with certain needs. In the case of Joy!,” the high school group’s director, Rich Pinkerton, asked for something his ringers could perform while walking from the back of the sanctuary to the tables at the beginning of a concert, except that it didn’t have to sound like the traditional grand and stately processional.  Hmm….a processing piece that doesn’t sound like a processional. Challenge accepted.”   Liz said, “Part of the challenge of the constraints of this piece was to make it sound interesting without being too demanding.”   From my perspective, Liz has a fresh new sound to her composition.

After an eight measure introduction, the A section runs from m. 9 to 54.  Then there is a delightful B section, m. 55-72, with thumb damps and handchime contrast. The A section returns in fuller texture in m. 79. This piece is happy and joyful, hence the title, “Joy!”

Liz says, She “heard it first played by the Southminster high school ringers. However, the piece went through many revisions before being published, so I was very anxious to hear the final product.  The day the CD promotional sample showed up online I was thrilled!”

Elizabeth was born and raised here in the South Hills of Pittsburgh. She graduated from the University of Pittsburgh, (finally) passed her CPA exams, and is now working in the family accounting business and as an organist. Here’s a picture of Liz and the Three Rivers Ringers from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.   Liz is the adventurous ringer singing in the lap of the Fred Rogers statue, (the middle of the picture.)

As for handbell involvement, she remains involved in Southminster, including an upcoming trip with the high school bell team “Ringers I” to Romania, Hungary, and the Czech Republic this summer.   She says, “We’ll be performing, cultivating an interest in handbell ringing, and assisting our overseas friends with amassing resources to pursue this unique art.”   

When she has free time, she says, “I enjoy playing board games and video games, watching scary movies, listening to audiobooks, and hanging out with my dog, Ginny, and my two rats, Gilbert and Sullivan.”   And yes, she typed “rats” not cats.

She continued, “I also enjoy musical “jam” sessions with my family during which we do things such as playing cheerful Christmas songs in minor keys, singing Disney songs with Sean Connery’s accent, or improvising new, original musical works. Some of our greatest masterpieces so far include “Prunes” and “Flight of the Manatee.” It’s probably a good thing I’m pursuing handbell composition so no one has to hear my lyrics.”


Until next month,
John Behnke, Music Editor

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