This Month

Distinctly Bronze Associate Conductors Selected

Handbell Musicians of America Video of the Month

Call for Bloggers and Group Moderators

Early Registration Deadline Tomorrow!

Master Class in Composition and Conducting

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

Distinctly Bronze Associate Conductors Selected

The Distinctly Bronze Associate Conductor program provides two apprentice conductors the opportunity to work with the primary Distinctly Bronze conductor in a mentoring relationship to develop massed ringing conducting skills.  The selected conductors will also conduct one piece on the Distinctly Bronze program. Numerous qualified applications were submitted and reviewed by a selection committee to narrow the list to four finalists to be considered by the event conductors who made the final selection. We are pleased to announce that the Distinctly Bronze Associate Conductors will be:

Barbara Meinke Distinctly Bronze East 2018 with Lee Afdahl Brian Childers Distinctly Bronze West 2019 with Bill Payn

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Handbell Musicians of America Video of the Month

A new monthly feature is the selection of a Video of the Month.  This video will be selected from publicly posted YouTube videos by our Regional Membership Coordinator team. Our first selection is this video of the Notre Dame Handbell Choir performing at the Great Wall in China.  We love seeing youth involved in handbells and even more when they are pushing boundaries and taking handbells to non-traditional places.

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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Call for Bloggers and Group Moderators

Do you have something you are burning to share with your fellow handbell musicians?  A new rehearsal technique, your philosophy on repertoire selection, your hopes for the future of handbells?  Then HMA wants you to join our blogging team. Blogs will be posted on and shared with all HMA members as they become available. In addition, we are seeking moderators for a series of new group chats we are developing on specific topics to assist our members in networking and finding solutions for the challenges they face in the world of handbells.  Moderators will facilitate conversations and monitor posts to insure relevance to the group topic, referring posters to other topics or resources when necessary.

If you’re interested in either of these opportunities, please email our RMC team at [email protected] with your name, contact information, the topics/area of interest you would like to moderate or blog about, and a brief description of your qualifications related to that topic.

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Early Registration Deadline Tomorrow!

May 15 is the last day to save on registration for National Seminar.  Register by the end of the day and save $55 on the cost of full registration and $25 on daily registration. National Seminar offers unmatched access to classes, concerts, exhibits, and networking in the handbell community.  Join us in Grand Rapids, July 17-21.


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Master Class in Composition and Conducting

Our Master Class series is a great opportunity to get intense instruction toward a single focus.  Openings are still available for the Master Class in Composition and for the Ringer/Observer category for the Master Class in Conducting.  Register for both Master Class and National Seminar, and receive a 10% discount on your Master Class registration. Registration for Ringer/Observers will close Friday, May 18, so register today!


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Music Notes from John Behnke


May is filled with graduations and celebrations.  It’s a time when we commence into new chapters of our lives.  And Matthew Compton’s new piece, Exultation, AG35371, sets the right mood for any celebration for church or a concert.

In the spirit of transparency, I must admit that I’ve had the wonderful privilege to get to know Matt when he studied at Concordia University, Mequon, Wisconsin and rang in my handbell choir, The Alleluia Ringers.   Now several years later, Matt has graduated from Concordia and has moved out to Vancouver, Washington, and is the director of Bells of the Cascades and is the Director of Music Ministries at Salmon Creek United Methodist Church, which includes praise team, vocal choirs, and handbell choirs.

He says, his work with the handbell choir at Salmon Creek UMC inspired him to write Exultation, AG35371, Level 2+ for 3-5 octaves of handbells.  In his words, “They are a blast to work with and so the title “Exultation” was appropriate with this piece and the piece then inspired the name of the adult bell choir, the Exultation Ringers.”

The piece begins in a “Spirited” 4/4 meter with large, repeated chords accompanied by mallet and mart lifts.   At measure 11, the melody is heard in the high bells with chordal accompaniment.  A contrasting idea appears at measure 19 in A minor, which Matt says is a favorite section of his.  “The melodic harmonies are in 6ths, which is my favorite interval.  I also really find the all-malleted middle section to be very fun and whimsical.”   This middle section begins at measure 36 and lasts through measure 48, when the A material returns.  This time the A melody is in octaves and the accompaniment chords are a bit thicker.   At measure 73, the Coda appears and is a return of the opening introductory chords with mallet and mart lifts; only this time it crescendos to a glorious conclusion.   It’s a well-crafted and super exciting new original piece.

Matt says, “The Exultation Ringers premiered this piece in May 2017 and to see the joy on the ringers faces for all the hard work they had to put into making the piece happen was wonderful. They took ownership of the piece and really just loved being able to share it with the congregation.” We hope your ringers too will play Exultation, AG35371 and have that same look of joy and “exultation” that Matt saw in his faces of his choir.

If you don’t know Matthew Compton, he says, “I’m originally from Colorado Springs, and I went to Concordia and received my Bachelor’s in Music, and now live in Vancouver, WA, where I direct at Salmon Creek UMC and with Bells of the Cascades. I am still composing and arranging for bells, and have recently been experimenting with orchestral arranging and composing. I am looking into getting my Master’s Degree, hopefully soon, so I’m looking at different schools for that right now.”

“Since moving out to Washington, I’ve been enjoying hiking and exploring the Oregon coast, and getting used to NOT having snow during this winter season! It’s definitely a change from the Midwest winters. I’ve been enjoying composing and arranging, conducting handbell festivals, playing video and board games, and planning a wedding with my fiancé, Trevor!”

Please take a look and listen to Exultation, AG35371. We hope you will enjoy this new AGEHR piece by Matthew Compton.

See & Hear the Music

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

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