This Month

College Ring-In – Register before December 1 and get a free t-shirt

Support Handbell Musicians of America with your Holiday Shopping

Tune in to Our Next MemberChat

Refer a New Member and Earn Handbell Bucks

2016 Handbell Notation Conference

Music Notes from John Behnke


Holiday Hours

The office will be closed on the following dates for the holidays:


Wed., Nov. 25 – Fri., Nov. 27.

Resume regular hours, Monday, Nov. 30

Christmas/New Year

Thu., Dec. 24 – Fri., Jan. 1.

Resume Regular hours, Mon., Jan. 4

Staff will still be available via email

Dec. 28
– Dec. 31.

National Events

Please consider helping defray the Guild’s

day-to-day expenses

by making a

contribution to



Organizing a Handbell Program-Recruitment and Assimilation

“Retention of Ringers” continues Karen Eastburn’s “Organizing a Handbell Program” series by offering suggestions to help retain those ringers whom you have successfully recruited. 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.


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 145400
Mail Location 521
Cincinnati, OH 45250

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



College Ring-In – Register before December 1 and get a free t-shirt

Join us January 2016 for the first College Ring-In, an event for college students and recent alumni.  Three days of ringing under the direction of Michael Joy culminates in a public concert on the final evening.  Don’t miss this opportunity to ring great music with others who share your passion for handbells.

Register before December 1 and get a free College Ring-In T-shirt with your registration.


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Support Handbell Musicians of America with your Holiday Shopping

Shop for your Christmas gifts through AmazonSmile and a portion of your purchases will be donated to Handbell Musicians of America. AmazonSmile offers all the same products, pricing, and options as with the added benefit of a donation to the Guild. Simply follow the link below to link your account to AmazonSmile and select the American Guild of English Handbell Ringers as your charity to support with your shopping.

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Tune in to Our Next MemberChat

Transforming Your Community Ensemble:

How Challenges Bring New Opportunities

with P.L. Grove, Artistic Director and Founder of

Velocity Handbell Ensemble

11:30 am Eastern, Saturday, November 21

All community handbell ensembles are born by enthusiasm and deep love of handbells. As the makeup of the group and perhaps the original vision changes and evolves, how do community groups maintain a sense of centered-ness and artistic purpose? Can changes, whether large or small, transform your group into a different yet equally exciting ensemble?

Velocity has lived this conundrum since 2001 first as a sextet, then a quartet and lately a duo. When her duet partner moved out of state, founder, P.L. Grove was faced with choices to let Velocity slip into the handbell history books, to find a new duet partner or to launch in an entirely new direction. She chose the latter.

Tune in Nov. 21 to talk with P.L. about the realities of transformation in Community Ensembles.


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Refer a New Member and Earn Handbell Bucks

Our strongest resource for encouraging new membership in Handbell Musicians of America is you – our current members.  Help us bring the benefits and services the Guild provides to others by referring new members.  For each new member you refer, you will earn five Handbell Bucks which can be used toward your own membership renewal or registration for national events.


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2016 Handbell Notation Conference

Join us following National Seminar 2016 in Rochester, New York to assist in updating the Handbell Musicians of America Handbell Notation Guide. All Handbell Musicians of America members are invited to attend or submit a proposed change/update for consideration.

To submit a change/update proposal for consideration, please provide a succinct, written document describing your proposal to John Behnke via email at [email protected]

All proposals must be to John Behnke by June 1, 2016. Notation changes will be adopted by consensus of those who attend the conference. You do not need to attend the conference to submit a proposal, but your attendance would be greatly appreciated.

We hope you will participate in updating this important guide for all handbell ringers, directors, composers, and publishers. Only through active input by all interested parties can we achieve a truly comprehensive Handbell Notation Guide.

Conference Schedule

  • 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM General Handbell/Handchime Notation(Parts A and B) – Lunch provided
  • 5:00 PM – 6:30 PM Dinner on your own
  • 6:30 PM – 10:00 PM Solo/Ensemble Notation (Part C)

Fees & Lodging

The fee to attend the Notation Conference is $75.00 and includes lunch during the meeting. Lodging information will be available when National Seminar details are posted. Please check the website for updated information on rates and reservation process.

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Music Notes from John Behnke

Leaning on the Everlasting Arms

This month’s featured piece is Brian Childers’ arrangement of “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms,” AG35337, Level 2 for 3-6 octaves of handbells.  I asked Brian what inspired this arrangement and he said, “This is the favorite hymn of one of my former youth choir members who has, since her time in my youth choir, graduated from high school, college, and entered the work force. Several years ago, she called me to let me know she was engaged and asked me to play for her wedding. ‘Leaning on the Everlasting Arms’ was the bride’s favorite hymn. I arranged this and performed it at her wedding as a gift to her. During early June 2015, I had the privilege of visiting the couple at the hospital and to sit with them and hold their newborn baby. This setting has since taken on a newfound depth of meaning as I now envision God’s everlasting arms encircling their newborn child.” Brian went on to say, “I have always enjoyed this hymn and been upheld by its reference to Deuteronomy 33:27, The eternal God is a dwelling place, And underneath are the everlasting arms.  It has also intrigued me that most settings I have heard have had more of a gospel flair to them. The text has always spoken to me in a different way and with a different voice.”

This arrangement is strophic with 3 stanzas set, each one slightly broader in tempo than the last, which makes the ending of the piece quite dramatic. I asked Brian what his favorite part of the piece was and he said, “All of it 🙂  The last verse and chorus, to me, are the highlight of this setting. The final verse is wide open for expressive and thoughtful ringing. The final chorus leads from introspection to conviction and can be a powerful moment of musical expression.” Brian continued, “The challenges in this arrangement are not at all technical or intellectual. The challenges are musical. How can directors and ringers mold and shape the tempos, dynamics and expressivity so it speaks from the heart to the soul.”

AG35337 is for 3-6 octaves of handbells and is a Level 2 piece.  It uses echo rings, LVs, and a great use of dynamics.   It’s a very expressive setting of this beloved Gospel hymn.

Now what does Brian do when he is not arranging or composing music? He says, “I am always reading (or wanting to read) a variety of books. I am currently in the middle of three very different books 1.) Bach: Music in the Castle of Heaven, 2.) The Heart of Everything that Is (The Untold Story of Red Cloud) and 3.) On Writing (Stephen King).  Plus I am a HUGE San Antonio Spurs fan (I see them whenever they come to Charlotte and have taken vacation and traveled to San Antonio to see them play there).”   I asked why do you root for the Spurs when you live in North Carolina and he replied, “because of Tim Duncan who played at Wake Forest University years ago, just one hour away from where I live.”

Brian went on to say, “I have an amazing wife who has just earned her Masters degree in counseling and two terrific children, a daughter who is a senior at UNC-Chapel Hill and a son who is a senior in high school. They are both excellent handbell ringers, instrumentalists (saxophone and trumpet) and both are drum majors at their respective schools this fall.”   It’s great to know that the love of handbells will live on in the Childers household.

I invite you to give a look and a listen to Brian’s piece, Leaning on the Everlasting Arms, AG35337.  It’s a great piece for any time of year.


Thanks for reading my E-Notes column.

Until next month,

John Behnke, Music Editor

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