This Month

It’s Not Too Late to Register for National Seminar

Support Our Annual Silent Auction

Live Streaming from National Seminar

HMA Video of the Month

New Member Extras Online

John Behnke’s Music Notes


National Events

GO HERE to find out more about all our national events.

Become a Sustaining Partner

Upgrade your membership to SUSTAINING PARTNER and play an important role in ensuring the future of Handbell Musicians of America. As a SUSTAINING PARTNER

  • You are CONNECTED to the handbell community
  • You are IN PARTNERSHIP with other handbell musicians
  • You are NURTURED through education and resources


Featured Resource

The Care and Feeding of Youth Handbell Choirs

How do we communicate? How do we attract new ringers? How do we generate interest? Learn all about communicating in Michael Glasgow and Kathryn Aspenwall’s “The Structure of the Communication Process in Faith-Based Settings,” free to all Guild members. 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. bigringvideo2 Watch us break the Guinness World Record for the Largest Handbell Ensemble Nov. 19, 2016 at the Mall of America in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

hf-logo-260px 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

It’s Not Too Late to Register for National Seminar

Registration is still open for National Seminar!  Register today and join us in Grand Rapids, Michigan for four days of informative classes, inspiring performances, shopping in Handbell Industry Council exhibits, networking with fellow handbell musicians, and much more.  Visit for all the details.


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Support our Annual Silent Auction

Are you skilled at creating handmade gifts?  Do you have a unique handbell collectible or novelty?  Do you have access to fine wines or chocolates?  If yes, consider making a donation to our annual Silent Auction.  This National Seminar highlight is one of our major fundraisers each year.  You can support our mission by donating items for the auction, whether or not you are attending the event.

Each year a wide variety of items are donated each year including handmade quilts, jewelry, scarves and other similar gifts; handbell collectibles or novelties; bottles of fine wine or chocolates; commissions for new handbell compositions and arrangements; gift baskets from your home town, state or community ensemble; and much more.

Silent auction donations can be delivered by hand to the event, or shipped in advance.


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Live Streaming from National Seminar

Can’t make it to Grand Rapids for National Seminar?  You can still join us each day through our Facebook page and YouTube channel.
National Seminar offers unmatched access to classes, concerts, exhibits, and networking in the handbell community.  Join us in Grand Rapids, July 17-21.

After the popularity of last years live streams concerts at National Seminar, we will once again bring these fine performance to you via YouTube Live Streaming. In addition to the concerts themselves, hosts Derek Nance and Bob Avant will bring you interviews with performers and Seminar staff, faculty, and national board members, featuring live chat, before each concert.

Visit our YouTube channel now, subscribe, and hit the notification bell so that you will be notified when we are live or when new videos are added.


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Handbell Musicians of America Video of the Month

Our selection this month is a beautiful performance of Cathy Moklebust’s arrangement of “I’ll Fly Away” by the Calvary Handbell Choir of the Calvary Baptist Church in New York, NY. They are a “collegiate and adult handbell choir that performs in worship services and on special occasions,” as described on the church’s website.

Do you have a video you would like considered for Video of the Month? Send a link to that video publicly posted on YouTube to [email protected].

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New Member Extras Online

Please visit our Members Only Site to see new Member-Extras as well as archived Member-Chats and Notes and the online edition of our official journal, Overtones.


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Music Notes from John Behnke

Cherishing Our Friendships

One of the great but hard to articulate benefits of our organization, the Handbell Musicians of America, is that through our events, you meet fellow ringers and directors and you become friends.   Often those friends are folks you see just once a year at the National Seminar, like the upcoming one in Grand Rapids, MI.   Or it’s at an Area Festival with everyone ringing together and attending classes.   But we do get to know one another through these events and we end up cherishing those once a year precious handbell friendships.

The composer of our featured piece, AG35360 When the Saints Go Marching In, passed away last year, on September the 5th.  His name was Thomas Gregory.  Tom taught vocal music in New Berlin, Wisconsin public schools for 33 years.  He also served as music director, choir director, and handbell choir director at First Baptist and as organist at First Congregational Church of Wauwatosa.   He was active in the national handbell community and was a published handbell music arranger.

For me, Tom was a dear handbell and church music friend!  Living in the Milwaukee area, I knew him well, and enjoyed his friendship, having met him at numerous music events.

Tom wrote “When the Saints Go Marching In” AG35360 as a commission honoring the 90th birthday of Jack Roorbach, a member of a handbell ringer in that church.  Tom always enjoyed arranging spirituals.”   Tom’s wife, Pat says, “our daughter, Liz Gregory Jaffe, plays handbells in the bell choir of Central Presbyterian Church of Atlanta, directed by Dave VanderMeer” so that was the connection.

Tom’s piece When the Saints Go Marching In begins in lively fashion with malleted bass notes and a syncopated motive for the first 8 measures.  In m. 9 the melody appears in the upper treble bells, while the middle battery rings the syncopation and the bass continues the fun malleting.   In m. 29 the tempo changes to “Slowly” and key changes from F major to F minor.  For a short, but contemplative 8 measures, the melody is presented in minor, until the bells peal forth again in F major and the malleted bass returns with the syncopated middle texture.   The whole tune is played through one last time, bigger and bolder.  Then the coda, measures 48-51, appears, filled with shakes and continued syncopation, until it ends in grand style.  It’s a very joyful and upbeat arrangement.

Pat said, “I think he would have liked the minor section the best.  I can hear him chuckling there.”   She went on to say, “I have played it with my choir at First United Methodist Church of Waukesha.  I found it fun to play and enjoyed the humor infused in it.  His sense of humor was often evident in his playing the organ and in arranging bell music.”   Indeed it was.

Tom was raised in Reedsburg, WI.  He began playing organ in the Presbyterian Church there at the age of 14.  He graduated from the University of Wisconsin in Madison, majoring in Horn and Organ, and Music Education.

While Pat was raised in Nebraska and Kansas and came to the University of Wisconsin in Madison to complete a Master’s degree in French Literature.  She says, “I met Tom at New Berlin West High School where we were both teachers.  I taught French and English, then private piano lessons while our daughter was young, then taught French in a Waldorf school.”

I sincerely hope you will take a look at this wonderful arrangement of the American Spiritual, When the Saints Go Marching In, AG35360.  It is Level 2 difficulty and for 3-5 octaves of handbells.

And I want to say thank you to Tom’s wife, Pat for contributing words and pictures for this feature story.

Cherish the friendships and the love that are developed through music and through the Handbell Musicians of America!

See & Hear the Music

Until next month, happy ringing!

John Behnke, Music Editor

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