This Month

Accepting Nominations for Honorary Life Membership Award

College Ring-In: Jan. 3-5 in Houston, Texas

Spaces Still Open for Reaching for Bronze

Save the Date for Giving Tuesday

Next National Board Chat

Video of the Month

Brian Childers Named Music Adviser

Brian’s Music Notes



Nominations for national board are due by SEPTEMBER 1. GO HERE for details and nomination form.

Nominations for Honorary Life Membership award are due by DECEMBER 1. GO HERE for details and nomination form.

National Events

GO HERE to find out more about all our 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
  • You are IN PARTNERSHIP with other handbell musicians
  • You are NURTURED through education and resources


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

Nominations Being Accepted for
Honorary Life Membership

The Guild’s first Honorary Life Membership Award was given to Frederick Sharpe in 1963 at the eighth National Convention in Detroit, Michigan. Mr. Sharpe was the honored guest at the convention and was considered the foremost English authority on tower bells, having done much to further the art of handbell ringing during his lifetime. His contributions became the model for future Honorary Life Membership Awards which now total 38 throughout the history of Handbell Musicians of America.

According to the Honorary Life Policy which has been developed by the national board of directors, the granting of an Honorary Life Membership Award in the Guild is reserved “for those who have made outstanding contributions to the art of handbell ringing. This status is to be deemed the highest honor which the Guild can bestow and is to be reserved for individuals of the highest caliber.” This award is intended to recognize and honor a lifetime commitment to handbells based on exceptional service to Handbell Musicians of America and to handbell ringing in general.

Honorary Life Submissions

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College Ring-In 2020

Houston, Texas • Jan. 3-5, 2020
Stevie Berryman, Conductor

Join us January 3-5, 2020, for our College Ring-In, an event for college students and recent alumni.  Three days of ringing under the direction of Stevie Berryman culminates in a public concert on the final afternoon.  Participants will be given their own individual ringing assignment to prepare in advance and then join other attendees to rehearse and polish the music for the final concert.

College Ring-In 2018 in Princeton, New Jersey

The event also includes a reading session of unpublished compositions and arrangements submitted by participants.  We’ll have publishers and editors from the handbell industry on hand to provide advice and guidance regarding copyright permissions and the publication process.

Info & Registration

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Spaces Still Open for Reaching for Bronze
with Monica McGowan

February 28 – March 1 • New Bern, North Carolina

Have you wanted to apply for Distinctly Bronze but worry you are not yet at the skill level to be accepted?  Then this is the event for you.  Scheduled concurrently with Distinctly Bronze East, this event will give participants the opportunity to learn three pieces from the DB East rep list under the direction of master teacher and conductor Monica McGowan and perform them with the DB musicians on their final concert. In addition, the Reaching for Bronze choirs will prepare and perform two pieces of their own.

Event Details

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We’re proud to be a part of this global celebration of giving.

Fall is upon us, and the holiday season will not be far behind. Watch your E-Notes and the HMA website and Facebook page in the coming months to find out more about how you can help grow Handbell Musicians of America’s reach and further its mission by being a part of this global giving phenomenon.

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Next National Board Chat

Our next National Board Chat is Saturday, October 26 at 11 a.m. Eastern, live from the national board meeting. 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 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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Video of the Month

Our video of the month is not exactly handbells, but their predecessor. We present you with an enormous tower filled with 100 tons of bronze bells, some the size of a car, that you play with a massive keyboard at the top of the tower. And if you’re a Harry Potter fan, you’ll definitely want to watch this one.

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Brian Childers Named HMA Music Adviser

Brian Childers accepted the position of Music Adviser with HMA in October of 2019. He is an accomplished composer, conductor, and clinician. In this role, he will select titles from the existing AGHER Publishing catalog that we will promote each year, write the “Music Notes” column for E-Notes, staff the AGEHR Publishing booth at National Seminar and advise HMA on ways to promote AGEHR Publishing music.

His choral, instrumental, and handbell works are performed throughout the world. He is in demand as a featured clinician at music conferences and workshops across the nation. He received his bachelor of music degree in piano performance from Appalachian State University and the master of divinity degree in church music from the M. Christopher White School of Divinity at Gardner-Webb University. From 2012-2015, he served as Artistic Director of the Queen City Ringers, a Community Handbell Ensemble based in Charlotte, NC. He has served churches throughout the Southeast, building vibrant programs for choirs, handbells and instrumentalists at each. He currently serves as Minister of Music at First Baptist Church of Roswell, GA, where he oversees music ministry to children and youth and adults.

Brian is married to Keely Childers, a professional counselor and has two adult children, Hannah and Spencer, both of whom served as drum majors in their respective high school and college marching bands. Brian is an avid runner and a rabid fan of the San Antonio Spurs. Brian’s first book, “Ringing Deeply” a devotional book for directors, ringers, and bell fans has been received with strong reviews. You can learn more about “Ringing Deeply” and Brian’s compositions and conducting schedule at

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Brian’s Music Notes

with Brian Childers

Kum Ba Ya: arr. Jeffrey Honoré

This wonderful arrangement by Jeffrey Honoré

provides a great setting for a smaller choir of four to six ringers. While this is appropriate for any time of year, it is especially suitable for communion. Some choirs may want to keep this in their folders as a standby to use for that one Sunday when you are scheduled to ring and disaster strikes at the last minute and you are four ringers down! Listen to, preview, and order Kum Ba Ya here:

While the bell part stands alone, there is an optional piano accompaniment which supports the ringers without taking them out of the driver’s seat on this arrangement. The piano part is highly recommended. Paired with the conductor’s score, the piano part  is available for purchase as a digital download from

Suggested bell assignments are listed for 4, 5, or 6 ringers directly underneath the bell chart. This arrangement is composed in a straightforward manner. A simple four measure introduction comprised of half and whole notes leads into the first verse of Kum Ba Ya in Bb. A brief two measure transition brings the second verse in c minor. Here, the melody is stated in the lower bells by the upper trebles who accompany with thumb damps. With a modulation into C Major and accelerando, Honoré sends ringers into an exciting closing verse. The finale adds syncopation, mart lifts, borrowed chords and concludes with a RT. This arrangement is an easy level two and will be a quick learn for your ringers.

Notes from the Arranger…
Jeffrey Honore’ says “This composition came from a desire to have a very small group of ringers, less than an octave, and with good bell assignments as few ringers as available.  The piano accompaniment is entirely optional, allowing another color and interpretation. He suggests “letting the words of the song drive the arrangement.” “The 2nd verse is on ‘someone’s cryin’ Lord’..think of the bell melody as a mini aria, bel canto (pun intended)

Jeffrey’s Background
“I have been married to my wife, Debra for almost 40 years (a serious number, I tell her) with three grown sons, two daughter-in-laws and two grandchildren…what a blessing! My family is often glad I’m composing using the computer with headphones on…During the summer months, you can find me in Wisconsin on the green grass of the links hitting a little white sphere with great delight!” I asked Jeff about how he was introduced to bells. He said, “I took a position where donors had given bells and wanted a program started in 1984! I went (reluctantly) to learn about bells, but was converted in a three day workshop led by Don Allured. What a transformative experience. I even have the bruises to show how important rests are! I immediately started writing for my groups of two octave children ringers and four (yes, four) octave adult ringers.” Jeff’s first published piece was Fantasia on Hymn to Joy – Beethoven, pub by Lorenz. When asked about his methods for composing, Jeff says “over the years, I have gravitated to the computer, but have reverted to composing in my head, at the piano and walking around!” In his earlier years he did most of his composing after his children’s bedtimes. Now, it is more done during daylight hours. He resonates with the idea of a creative spirit and something new being born out of that time.

Kum Ba Ya Background
The words to Kum Ba Ya are simple and direct: Someone’s singing, Lord, kumbaya. Someone’s crying, Lord, kumbaya. Someone’s praying Lord, kumbaya. Kumbaya, translated, means “come by here.” It is an invocation of God’s presence  to intervene in the midst of oppression in all times, and in all situations, easy and difficult, good and bad. . Like most Spirituals, their power is in the simplicity, repetition, and in a message that transcends and connects generations together. Many mistakenly believe this song came out of the righteous 60’s and the Folk Revival of the 70’s (thus the current derogatory phrase of “sitting around the campfire and singing Kumbaya.”) However, this African-American spiritual has a much richer and storied history. Kumbaya, which predates the 1920’s, hails from the Gullah — or Geechee — people of the South Carolina and Georgia coast. Our earliest recording comes from 1926, when a folklore collector using a wax cylinder recording device, recorded Georgia native Henry Wylie singing the song in Sea Islands Creole Dialect. (You can hear that recording at the link below…fascinating!). Kum Ba Ya was recorded in the 1950’s by great artists such as Odetta, Joan Baez, and Pete Seeger. See the NPR link below to explore why this spiritual has fallen in and out of favor many times over the last 100 years.

As a final note, let me say how honored I am to have been selected as music adviser for HMA. This is a fantastic catalog with great quality music. The tireless work of music editor John Behnke has provided us with a wealth of terrific music. I look forward to highlighting the best this catalog has to offer in the years ahead. I encourage you to reach out if you have ideas to share, or would like repertoire suggestions from the AGEHR catalog.

See & Hear the Music

Until next month,

Brian Childers
Music Adviser

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