This Month

DB Associate Conductor Application Deadline

Master Class in Conducting Application Deadline

International Handbell Symposium Early Bird Pricing

March Member Extras

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

Barbara Brocker teaches you how to use bell trees in various worship settings. Also learn about selecting music and equipment. 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.

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

Distinctly Bronze Associate Conductor Program

Application Deadline April 1

Handbell Musicians of America is pleased to announce the return of the Associate Conductor to Distinctly Bronze. Applications are now being accepted for Distinctly Bronze East 2018 with Lee Afdahl and Distinctly Bronze West 2019 with Bill Payn.

Selected Associate Conductors will work with the event music director to develop their massed conducting skills and rehearse and conduct one piece for the event. Lodging and travel expenses will also be provided.

The application deadline is April 1. See complete details and application criteria here.


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Master Class in Conducting

Application Deadline April 3

You have just two weeks to return your application as a conductor for the Master Class in Conducting at National Seminar in Grand Rapids.

Thirteen individual conducting students will work one-on-one with master conductor Dr. William Payn. Each will be assigned one piece to learn and conduct under Dr. Payn’s tutelage. Participating conducting students will form the choir that each will lead. The event concludes with a final showcase concert where each student will conduct their piece for an audience.


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International Handbell Symposium Early Bird Pricing Ends March 31

Register now to receive the early bird pricing for International Handbell Symposium in Cairns, Australia this August.

The 18th International Handbell Symposium will be held in Cairns, Queensland, Australia. It will open formally as the sun sets on Monday 6 August 2018, and concludes with the Gala Dinner on Saturday night, 11 August 2018.

For the first time, the International Handbell Symposium will offer an International Handchime Festival and will be preceded by an International Handbell Symposium Youth Festival. A fabulous tour programme is also available for those not involved in ringing activities.


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New Content added to Member Extras

Go to the Members Only site now to see new content in MemberExtras, our new member-only section created especially for sub-members.  Find fun activities, articles, tips, and resources.  All members are welcome to enjoy these new benefits, but they were designed with ringers in mind.

New items will be added in the coming months. If you have a specific topic you would like us to address or an idea for other content for this section, or if you have content you’d like to share with fellow handbell musicians, please contact [email protected]


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Music Notes from John Behnke

Celebrate in “Lively Fashion”

We all know that “time flies.” 10 years, 25 years, even 50 years takes place “in the blink of an eye.” This month’s our featured piece AG35366 “Vivamente,” by Michael Mazzatenta celebrates 50 years of the founding of a handbell choir, the Handbell Ringers of Sun City, Arizona. Quite an accomplishment!

Michael says, “As a longtime resident of Arizona, I had known their director Libbie Randels through various HMA events and we had also both served as Area 11 Chairs in previous years. I was very honored to contribute my part to their celebration with this commissioned piece.

I asked Michael what part or parts of the piece he likes the most. And he said, “There are a lot of parts I like the most! The piece is based on a lot of rhythmic scale and sequence patterns. For example, the opening 4-bar scale introduction creates forward direction and buildup; it is also used for the recap (m. 71-74), and the ending (m. 105-109). The main theme is based on a 2-bar sequence (m. 5-6, 7-8, 9-10) and then is followed later by a chromatic version of the sequence (m. 25-26, 27-28, 29-30). I also like the key relationship of the main theme (G) going to the contrasting middle-section theme (E), as well as a time signature change from 4/4 to 3/4 and a change to chimes in the melody. And finally, the modulation back to the main theme is a very bright and direct return to all bells.”

Michael said he was fortunate enough to hear this piece performed in concert by the group that commissioned it, the Handbell Ringers of Sun City.

The word, Vivamente, literally means in “lively fashion.” “Vivamente” is Level 2+ and is for 3-5 octaves of handbells and optional 3 octaves of handchimes. It’s very accessible, with that distinctive upbeat style of Michael Mazzatenta. It has a festive and celebratory feel – perfect for any worship service or concert. There is an “ear worm” melody in the opening section. The middle section employs handchimes and lovely contrast. And the closing section returns to that “lively” feel with its ascending scale motive and a thrilling finish. It will make a wonderful addition to your church or concert repertoire.

Michael Mazzatenta was born in Lima, Ohio and grew up in Warren, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit. He graduated from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor with Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees and then a a doctorate from Arizona State University in Tempe. All of these degrees were in Organ Performance. He says, “I have always been involved in music since childhood and knew that music would be my life. I’m currently an Adjunct Music Instructor at Texas A & M and also Organist at First United Methodist Church, both in Corpus Christi TX. I became involved with bells through a previous church music director who needed someone to direct their handbell group. He says, “I had NO previous handbell experience, but the director was confident I could quickly learn! Once I gained some education and training through the Handbell Musicians of America, I delved into composition in order to write some music that would work for my group. My breakthrough into handbell music publishing came after winning the Area 3 composition competition in 2003 with ‘Fanfare Celebration!’” Since then, he has won composition contests in Areas 1, 2, 11, and 12.

When he isn’t composing music, Michael says, “I like to photograph sunsets and clouds and to play jazz piano gigs. I’ve been working out in Pilates class to stay strong on the bench, and my wife and I like to take walks on the beach on Padre Island where we live. And after a day of teaching and performing, I like to relax and watch my favorite TV shows – The Price Is Right; M*A*S*H; WWE SmackDown; Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives to name a few. I have family living in Michigan and North Carolina; with grownup step-kids and step-grandkids living in Arizona.”

I hope you give a look and listen to Michael’s new original piece, “Vivamente,” AG35366.  What a fantastic mantra for life – “celebrate in ‘lively fashion.” Each day is indeed a blessing to be enjoyed.

See & Hear the Music

Until next month, happy ringing!
John Behnke,
Music Editor

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