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E-Notes September 2015


This Month

National Seminar Pre-Registration – Deadline September 30!

College Ring-In Registration Open

Back to Bells – Still Time to Register for September Events

Call for Faculty and Performers for National Seminar 2016

Music Notes from John Behnke


National Events

Please consider helping defray the Guild’s

day-to-day expenses

by making a

contribution to



The Care and Feeding of Youth Handbell Choirs

Part of a three-part series of resources by Karen Eastburn on Organizing a Handbell Program. Also available, Mission Aspects of a Handbell Program, and Retention of Ringers. 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



National Seminar Pre-Registration –

Deadline September 30!

Pre-register now for National Seminar 2016 in Rochester, New York and lock-in the discounted registration fee of $350.  You will also get priority event registration and be entered in a drawing to have the balance of your event registration fee waived.

Here are the details:

  • Pre-Registration Fee – $125
  • Locked-in Discounted Event Registration – $350
  • Deadline for Pre-Registration – September 30, 2015
  • Deadline to Complete Full Registration at Discounted Rate- May 1, 2016
  • Registration Opens for Pre-Registrants – February 15, 2016

Join us in Rochester, situated on the Genesee River a short distance from Lake Ontario, Niagara Falls, and the Finger Lakes region of New York, and enjoy performances, classes, exhibits, and more at the Rochester Riverside Convention Center and Hyatt Regency Rochester.


(Be sure to log in to your member account first)

Cancellation Policy for Pre-Registration: Those that cancel pre-registration prior to March 15, 2016 and before completing full registration, will receive a refund of $100. After full registration is complete, standard event cancellation policies will apply. You must complete your full registration before May 1, 2016 to receive the discounted registration rate. After May 1, the full registration rate will be charged.

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College Ring-In Registration Open!

Coming in January 2016, Handbell Musicians of America presents the College Ring-In with Michael Joy, a new event for college students and recent alumni.  The event is scheduled for January 14-16 and will be held at Gary United Methodist Church in Wheaton, Illinois.

Registration is on an individual-basis, with attendees receiving specific ringing assignments in a set of ad-hoc choirs, similar to the Distinctly Bronze format.  In addition, the event will provide opportunities for participants to bring their own unpublished compositions and arrangements for reading by the group. During these reading sessions, handbell publishers and editors will be on hand to provide guidance and advice about the publishing process.

Registration is now open $85 per person.  Members (including sub-members) receive a $15 discount.  Registration includes lunch on Friday and Saturday.  More details will be available soon.



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Back to Bells – Still time to Register for September Events!

Our first weekend of Back to Bells workshop were a big success!  Reviews coming in from across the country have been overwhelmingly positive and report that attendees are re-energized and inspired at the end of the four-hour workshop.

These free, four-hour workshops are designed for new and beginning handbell programs and will provide basic training on everything you need to start and advance your handbell program.  Workshops are open to members and non-members alike – so help spread the word!  See a complete list of dates and locations, links to registration, and other event details at   Don’t see a workshop offered near you?  Then contact [email protected] to request one.


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Call for Faculty & Performers for National Seminar 2016

The National Seminar planning committee is seeking submissions from those interested in sharing their talents and expertise at our annual event.  The event is scheduled for July 12-16 at the Rochester Riverside Convention Center in Rochester, New York.  SUBMISSION DEADLINE is November 1, 2015.  See complete details and application forms below:

Faculty/Class Submissions

  • Those submitting must have their own individual Handbell Musician membership or be the primary contact for an organization’s Handbell Musician membership.
  • Consider all aspects of handbell musicianship in all settings as you develop your class ideas. The committee strives to select a wide variety of classes for all constituencies of our membership.
  • Those submitting more than one class topic will be given priority consideration.
  • Those interested in teaching at the event must submit a separate Class Submission Application for each class topic/idea they would like to present.  Download the Class Submission Application by clicking the application button below.  Completed applications must be emailed to [email protected].
  • Any applicant that did has not taught at a National Seminar or Pinnacle in the past three year (since Portland 2013) must provide two letters of reference from individuals who have observed the applicant teaching within the past 12 months. These letters must be sent directly to [email protected] by the person providing the reference.
  • Deadline for submission is November 1. Applicants will be notified of committee selections by January 1, 2016.
  • Questions regarding the process should be directed to [email protected].


Performer Submissions

  • Those submitting must have a Handbell Musician membership in the name of the performer or performing group.
  • We will be selecting feature performers for four evening concerts and two to four more performers for daytime mini-concerts.
  • The committee strives to select performers that represent all areas of Guild membership. Performers from worship settings, schools, and the community, as well as youth, adult, soloists, small ensembles, and other unique combinations, will all be considered.
  • Those interested must complete a Performer Submission Application which is available by clicking the application button below.  The completed application must be emailed to [email protected].
  • A link to an on-line video of a recent performance will be required with the application.
  • Deadline for submission is November 1. Applicants will be notified of committee selections by January 1, 2016.
  • Questions regarding the process should be directed to [email protected].

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Music Notes from John Behnke

A New Beginning!

After the summer break, there is great anticipation for the bell choir season and school year. Ringers arrive with excitement and joy to see their friends and to ring those bells or chimes once again. The joy of making music is apparent.

It’s important to start off the year quickly and successfully. I remember having my first rehearsal and at the end of that rehearsal saying, “Let’s play in church this Sunday.” The faces of the ringers were amazed. Yes, let’s get going.

There are pluses and minuses to our established Levels of Difficulty, 1 (the easiest) to 6 (most difficult), but they can be helpful for guiding your bell choir throughout the year. Remember the best music is NOT the music that is most difficult. The best music is music your group can play well and expressively.

This month’s featured piece is another offering in our popular Chime In series. This month, it is the new Chime In: Gospel Favorites, AG23047. This octavo for two or three octaves of chimes or bells contains two Level 1 pieces of “Just As I Am” and “It is Well With My Soul.” Such a Level 1 collection is great for starting out a new ringing year. These pieces have no bell changes and use just whole, half and quarter notes, so you can work on counting and more importantly, damping. You can learn these pieces quickly and ring for church or school immediately; letting everyone know your group is back in business. This immediate ringing success gives positive feedback to your ringers.

You can take a look and a listen to “Just As I Am” from AG23047 Chime In: Gospel Favorites by John Behnke below.
“Just As I Am” makes use of the vibrato technique which is fun for chimes and bells alike.

I always ask other composers for the “dirt” that they wish to share. Well, my “dirt” is my love of baseball. I used to play in high school. Sadly my team, the Milwaukee Brewers, is in last place and in selling mode. At this point when I go to a game, I’m truly just going to enjoy “America’s favorite pastime” and not the outcome.


Until next month,

John Behnke, Music Editor

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