This Month

Now Accepting Nominations for National Board

Spots Open for Distinctly Bronze East and Reaching for Bronze in June

Next National Board Chat

Registration Open for National Seminar and Distinctly Teen

John Behnke’s Music Notes


National Events

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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
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  • You are NURTURED through education and resources


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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

Now Accepting Nominations for National Board

Who should serve on the next national board of directors of the Handbell Musicians of America? Whoever it is, YOU will play a vital and essential role.

The board of directors consists of a president, president-elect, and five at-large directors as the voting members. Each member serves a six-year term. The executive director is a non-voting participant. Additionally, a board-appointed secretary serves without voice or vote. The term of the current board expires September 30, 2020. At that time, P.L Grove (president), Derek Nance, and Jennifer Vangolen (at-large directors) will be replaced by a new president-elect and two new at-large directors. Those new members will join Bill Mathis, Linda Minnotte, and Kyle Webber. Jill Fedon will be our new president. Board members serve without compensation but are reimbursed for expenses directly related to their board responsibilities.


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Spaces Still Open for Distinctly Bronze East and Reaching For Bronze in June

Spots are still open for Distinctly Bronze East, which was rescheduled for June 6-9 in Raleigh, North Carolina and for our exciting new event, Reaching for Bronze, giving intermediate ringers the chance to advance their skills and perform with Distinctly Bronze musicians.


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Next National Board Chat

Our next National Board Chat will be live from the national board meeting on March 23. Ask questions, discuss goals, and offer your ideas and suggestions related to the direction and future of Handbell Musicians of America. Please note: This is a members-only feature.

Register to Join Chat

Remaining 2019 Chat Dates

Click on a date to register

Saturday, March 23
12:00 PM Eastern
Live from National Board Meeting

Saturday, July 20
12:30 PM Eastern
Live from National Seminar

Saturday, October 26
11:00 AM Eastern
Live from National Board Meeting

Can’t attend but have a question? All sessions will be recorded and available to members through our online Member Center at Send your question or comment in advance to [email protected] and it will be addressed during the next chat.

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Registration Open for National Seminar & Distinctly Teen

Registration is now open for this year’s National Seminar and Distinctly Teen, July 16-20 in St. Louis, Missouri. Our summer events offer something for ALL handbell musicians.

Participate in educational and engaging classes; enjoy performances by some of our best choirs and ensembles; 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.

Seminar Website

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Video of the Month

YouTuber Classy Whale and friends compiled a video of things handbell directors say. Have you heard your director saying any of these?

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Music Notes from John Behnke

Let’s Play Two!

Yes, it’s spring training time for major league baseball. It’s a time that allows us to dream of warmer days and fun-filled nights. One of my favorite players years ago on the Chicago Cubs was No. 14, Mr. Cub, Ernie Banks. He had a famous saying which was “Let’s play two,” which meant it was a such a beautiful day, let’s play two games instead of just one. Now your handbell or handchime choir can also play two on a Sunday morning, easily and quickly.

Our featured work this month is Jeffrey Honoré’s 50 Quick Hymn Accompaniments, AG016. It’s a reproducible book of 122 pages with 50 frequently-used hymns so you can combine the handbells or handchimes with the organ or keyboard on the hymns in just minutes. And it’s a steal at the low price of $24.95.

I asked Jeff what inspired him to write these “shorthand” hymn accompaniments. He said, “I was looking for a ‘quick’ way to engage the ringers into congregational song. Especially those that would match our hymnal accompaniments including hymns, songs, liturgical acclamations, new and old. It was important for me to include the bells in more of our sung prayer, as well as the great instrumental offerings of bells alone.”

So I asked him.. “what does the title mean?” He said, “The ability to have ringers learn in a very short period of time, one rehearsal, knowing we wanted to spend the majority of our time on the more difficult anthems for bells. It’s the ‘just add water’ approach, for once we learned how to read these shorthand settings we could incorporate them quickly at any time and could also play along with less than a full choir and still sound good.” Yes, if you are missing a ringer, you can still use these and they will sound great. And it doesn’t matter whether you have 1 octave of bells or 7 octaves of bells, you can use them to accompany the hymns and enhance the hymn singing.

Jeff went on to say, “I’ve used this approach for decades in my work in various parishes and all ages – it works very well.”

If you don’t know Jeff, he has been working in full time music ministry in the Catholic church since 1984 (Milwaukee and Phoenix) and before that at Lutheran congregations during college (Racine, WI) and public school teaching years (four years as a high school choral director in Ripon, WI). He has also served as organist for the Phoenix Diocesan Chorale, and the Director of the Milwaukee Archdiocesan Choir since 1994. He is currently the Mission Director of Pastoral Music at Holy Apostles Catholic Church in New Berlin, WI. And he continues to write music for choir, organ, and handbells for various publishers. In collaboration with a parish member, he is currently working on a church musical for 2020.

So I asked him my favorite question… “when you are not making or writing music, what do you like to do?” He said,
“Golf – it’s a great distraction and requires my full attention – I don’t even have time to holy hum! A very humbling pursuit. And my wife and I love to hike (a walk unspoiled by golf).”

So as Ernie Banks said, “Let’s Play Two!” with AG016, 50 Quick Hymn Accompaniments by Jeffrey Honoré.

Please follow the link for a look at all the hymn titles offered and a listen to how it sounds.

See & Hear the Music

Until next month,
Happy Ringing!

John Behnke, Music Editor

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