This Month

Meet our New Regional Membership Coordinators

Virtual Handbell Ensemble -Help Us Reach 500 Submissions

Music Editors Notes – Easter is Here!

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National Events


Introducing New Regional Membership Coordinators

We are pleased to announce that we have completed the search and interview process for the new regional membership coordinator positions.  These three will be traveling to the national office on April 2-3 to begin training and will officially begin their duties on Monday, April 8.  Until then, they will be reaching out to those board members in their region to make initial introductions and open the lines of communication.

Please join us in welcoming them to our national staff team:

Jonathan Snyder of Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania

East Region Coordinator (Areas 1-4)

Jon graduated from Susquehanna University in Pennsylvania in May of 2012 with a Bachelor of Music in Music Education. He has been a member of the Guild since 2002. He teaches music to students from kindergarten through eighth grade using a comprehensive music curriculum that incorporates handchimes. Jon also has experience ringing in and directing church and university handbell ensembles. He has completed Level 1 of the Handbell Musicians Certification program and is a regular attendee of both Area and national events.

John can be reached by e-mail at [email protected] or by calling the national office and requesting extension 806

Mary Willadsen of Oshkosh, Wisconsin

Central Region Coordinator (Areas 5-8)

Mary has been ringing handbells for 20 years and directing her church choir for the past three. She is a founding member of the community handbell ensemble Encore, which was established in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, in 2008. Part of her role with Encore Handbell Ensemble is providing workshops for other handbell musicians. Mary has attended both national and Area events and is a licensed physical therapist. Like so many of us, she fell in love with handbells after seeing her church handbell choir perform for service. After this first exposure, she immediately approached the director to find out how she could become part of the choir.

Mary can be reached by e-mail at [email protected] or by calling the national office and requesting extension 809

Ellie Hodder of Portland, Oregon

West Region Coordinator (Areas 9-12)

Ellie HodderEllie has extensive experience in all facets of handbell musicianship—as a ringer, director, educator, clinician, workshop leader, event planner, and organizer. She has served as a district leader for Area 10 and founded handbell events and networking opportunities in the Northwest. She is the director of handbell programs at her church, leads handbell programs at four retirement communities in her area, and is the founding and artistic director of the Pacific Ringers, a community handbell ensemble.

Ellie can be reached by e-mail at [email protected] or by calling the national office and requesting extension 810


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Virtual Handbell Ensemble – Help us reach 500 submissions!

Deadline is April 1.

We have had more that 400 submissions to the first ever Virtual Handbell Ensemble project, but there are still 14 of the 135 segments which have yet to be recorded by anyone. Some of these are as easy as a single singing bell. Be the first person to submit one of the following segments and you will receive a free 2012 Priority Music packet worth over $85 (limit one prize per person):

6, 11, 12, 73, 74, 75, 76, 77, 78, 79, 82, 83, 101

Virtual Handbell Ensemble

The Virtual Handbell Ensemble is an exciting new project of the Handbell Musicians of America, in which you will have the opportunity to perform a new work of music via video uploads. “Misterium,” by James Meredith, consists of 135 musical segments to be recorded separately by individuals and small groups of players from around the world over a seven month period and uploaded to the web. All of the segments will be assembled by the editing videographer and the composer into the final work to be premiered on July 27, 2013, at National Seminar in Portland, Oregon. Visit for all the details Return to top

Music Notes from John Behnke

Pentecost Inspiration

By now the Easter music has been rehearsed for a couple of weeks with a few days more to perfect a rough spot or two. Today I’d like to look ahead to Pentecost (May 19) and highlight a great new piece, “Breathe on Me, Breath of God” AG35308 by Michael Mazzatenta, which could serve as inspiration for your celebration.

Michael teaches Class Piano and Jazz Combo at Chandler-Gilbert Community College (Chandler, Arizona) and is the organist and handbell director at La Casa de Cristo Lutheran Church (Scottsdale, AZ). He will blush when I write this, but Michael is an award winning composer. He has been the winner of a number of Area composition contests.  In 2003 it was AG23021 and AG35225 “Fanfare Celebration” as the Area 3 winner; in 2005 it was “Ringing Victoriously” AG23025 and “Proclamation of Praise” AG35241 as Area 2 winners; in 2009 it was “With a Bold Voice” AG35283 as the Area 1 winner; and in 2012 it was “Renewed Spirit” AG35292 as the Area 12 winner.   Now that’s an impressive list of winning compositions.

For a number of years now in late January or early February, Handbell Musicians of America hosts a Master Series of classes in Tucson, Arizona.   The Master Series offers four days of classes in Conducting, Music Theory, Handbell Director Training, Ringing Techniques and Proficiency, and Composition.

Our featured piece, “Breathe on Me, Breath of God” AG35308, is a result of Michael’s participation in the composition class of the 2012 Master Series. The piece uses two tunes, “Breathe on Me, Breath of God” and “Jesus, the Very Thought of You.”   Michael said, “I liked the fact that both tunes I chose shared the same key and time signature; although both have very strange lengths – one is 13 measures long, the other 14.   After exploring multiple ways to use the tunes together, I decided to put two verses of ‘Jesus, the Very Thought of You’ in the middle of the piece; bookended by ‘Breathe on Me.’   The entire piece is in the key of G major, except for the last verse – my favorite part; which I strategically moved to E-flat major, since that would put the highest note in the melody at the high C.”

EasterYes, even master composers like Michael Mazzatenta attend classes at Master Series to continue to learn and grow and be inspired.  And all the rest of us can enjoy that inspiration in Michael’s new arrangement AG35308 “Breathe on Me, Breath of God.”

Inspiring music is all around the Mazzatenta household as Michael’s wife, Joan Zimmerman, is also an organist/pianist. The two first met as organ majors at Arizona State University.   And Michael’s fraternal-twin brother, Mark, is a performer (guitarist) and composer from North Carolina.   Michael says, “When our schedules allow, my brother and I enjoy traveling and performing together in a band called Mazzjazz.”

I hope you will be inspired in your musical pursuits too.   Who knows? Maybe we will see you in the 2013 Master Series or this July in Portland for National Seminar.   These are all places to learn, grow and be inspired.  In the meantime, enjoy Michael Mazzatenta’s new arrangement Breathe on Me, Breath of God AG35308.

Until next month,

John Behnke
Music Editor


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