Participate in engaging and informative courses in Handbell Musicianship from the comfort of your home, office or rehearsal space.

Our Spring 2019 classes are now complete. Please visit the archives below to get recordings of any of the courses offered through the Virtual Bell Academy.

The Virtual Bell Academy offers courses on a variety of topics related to handbell musicianship all from your computer, laptop, or tablet.  Through the technology of our internet video conferencing system, we bring the classroom to you.

Classes will be offered each spring and are open to all.  Membership in Handbell Musicians of America is not required. However, members will receive a discount on registration.

VBA Archive

All the courses offered in in previous years are available to view in our online store.

Members, be sure to login to your member account before registering to ensure you are charged the member rate for the classes you choose. To access the archive, click the button under the class description for the class you wish to see.

Viewing fees vary by course. Follow the links below to see pricing.

Handbell Techniques with Michele Sharik

 

Ringing Safely: Stance, Seat, & Stroke

This class will teach you ergonomic techniques to help you not only survive those long rehearsals, concerts, and day-long ringing festivals, but also do so without pain or soreness. Ringers will be introduced to the “Three S’s”: Stance, Seat and Stroke, and will focus on developing a relaxed ringing style to help control the bell, ring dynamically, and make beautiful music.

Course Fee – $45

Members, be sure to login to your member account before purchasing to get a $10 discount

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The Right Tool for the Job: Seven Ways to do Four-in-Hand

Playing handbells involves a lot of problem-solving, and problems are easier to solve if you have the right tools. Learn seven ways to do four-in-hand and see how many problems YOU can solve!

Course Fee – $45 per part

Members, be sure to login to your member account before purchasing to get a $10 discount.

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Get Recording Part 2

Four-In-Hand Dexterity Drills

These practice drills will help you develop strong four-in-hand skills for both interlocked and non-interlocked styles. We’ll cover ringing in all directions, switching out bells with one or two hands, switching between styles on the fly, stacking and re-stacking, and more!

Course Fee – $45

Members, be sure to login to your member account before purchasing to get a $10 discount.

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Full Hands, Full Hearts: Six-in-Hand

Are you ready for the next level challenge? Six-in-hand is for you! Learn at least three ways to play three bells in each hand, as well as the ergonomic and practical concerns of each style.

Course Fee – $45

Members, be sure to login to your member account before purchasing to get a $10 discount

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Healthy Musician Series with Rob Meyer-Kukan

 

Anatomy for Musicians Made Easy

Anatomy sounds technical and difficult to understand. After all, the study of anatomy is only for medical professionals, right?  This class will teach you the basics of anatomy as it applies to music making.  Building on the concept of, “your body is your instrument”, participants will take away a better understanding of how their body (their instrument) works, moves and makes music.

Course Fee – $45

Members, be sure to login to your member account before purchasing to get a $10 discount.

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Stretching for Musicians

Stretching is good, when done right.  In this class you will learn why to stretch, what to stretch and how to stretch.  Demonstration will be given of stretches that are appropriate for before, during and after a rehearsal, concert, service or other music making opportunities.  Note – participants will be invited (and encouraged) to move and actively participate in the class.

Course Fee – $45

Members, be sure to login to your member account before purchasing to get a $10 discount.

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Preventing Injuries for a Lifetime of Music Making

One of our goals as directors, educators, instructors and handbell musicians is to develop “lifelong musicians”.  We do this through teaching music concepts, technique, repertoire, performance practice and more.  By learning techniques for healthy music making, coupled with healthy lifestyle practices, we can reduce the chance of injury allowing our bodies the ability to play for a life time.  This freedom gives us the opportunity to focus on making music for a greater musical affect.

Course Fee – $45

Members, be sure to login to your member account before purchasing to get a $10 discount.

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meyer-kukan_rob

Rob Meyer-Kukan is the director of music at Dearborn First United Methodist Church, Dearborn, Michigan. He is a lifelong musician and an avid learner. He has rung handbells with The Detroit Handbell Ensemble, Classical Bells and the Capital City Ringers(Lansing, Michigan). He also participates in the Bay View Week of Handbells annually. Rob is a licensed massage therapist and incorporates his anatomical knowledge as well as a focus on healthy musician practices in his work with clients and his music students. Rob is the owner of the Healthy Musician Institute, LLC, where he is a massage therapist, teaches private music lessons and leads classes and workshops.

 

Audition Skills for Ringers with Sharon Schmidt

Are you eager to join a community or college group? Auditions can be new and scary territory for ringers. We’ll step through the entire process from signing up to dealing with the results.

Course Fee – $45

Members, be sure to login to your member account before purchasing to get a $10 discount.

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Handbell Musicianship with Greig Ashurst

A Fresh Approach to Rhythmic Integrity

A good handbell ensemble becomes a great handbell ensemble when the intangibles of music start to come alive.  The most fundamental element in a superior handbell performance is having great rhythm.  This class will offer a fresh approach to learning and understanding rhythm and musical performances of challenging rhythms.

Course Fee – $45

Members, be sure to login to your member account before purchasing to get a $10 discount.

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On Being A Creative Artist and the Composer’s Advocate

This Masterclass is about helping musicians and audiences connect to a composer’s work.  This class will explore ways for conductors to help players and audiences experience the aesthetic content of a musical work through a better vocabulary of gesture and conducting technique.

Course Fee – $45

Members, be sure to login to your member account before purchasing to get a $10 discount.

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Certification Level 1 - Handbell Techniques and Music Theory

 

Handbell Techniques – Level 1 with Michèle Sharik

Description

This course examines basic handbell and handchime ringing and damping techniques, with an emphasis on ergonomic principles and sound production. Which muscles are used for ringing and what they do, the ergonomic way to ring handbells, damping the bell, handling heavier bells will all be discussed.

Prerequisites

None

Recommended Texts

  • Berry, Susan, Healthy Ringing: for Handbells and Handchimes, Handbell Services, either 2000 or 2012 editions are fine
  • Conable, Barbara, What Every Musician Needs to Know about the Body: the Practical Application of Body Mapping to Making Music, Andover, 2000
  • Parsons, Thomas, Bass Bell Techniques,From the Top, 2006
  • Sue, Larry, The Bass Ringer’s Notebook, Chorageus Music, either 2007 or 2017 editions are fine
  • Handbell Techniques with Michèle Sharik (DVD), Above The Line Publishing, 2011

Course Fee:

Regular Registration – $165 (not including test)

Member Discounted Fee: $125 (not including test)

After completing the coursework, contact certification@handbellmusicians.org to arrange a test or visit this page to see a list of scheduled events where tests may be offered.

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Music Theory – Level 1 with Michael Glasgow

Description

Building on the basics of note-reading and rhythmic constructions, this course will ensure a basic working knowledge of music theory, both generally and as it pertains to handbells and handchimes. Rhythm, basic keys & the circle of fifths, building chords and scales, basic score navigation, common performance markings and terms, as well as ear-training in the form of rhythmic dictation (i.e., “write down what you hear”), and identification of basic intervals and major/minor triads will be discussed.

Prerequisites

This class is NOT a “music fundamentals” course, but a music theory course. It assumes students already have a solid working knowledge of basic treble- and bass-clef reading and standard time signatures/note values; an understanding of what sharps and flats do; and, ideally, a general navigation of the notes of the piano keyboard.

Required Text (purchase before coming to class)

  • Handbell and Handchime Notation Guide, AGEHR Music, AG015, 2016/2017

Recommended Texts

  • Randel, Don Michael (ed.), New Harvard Dictionary of Music, The, Harvard University Press/Belknap Press, ISBN 0674011635 (4th edition), 2003
  • Various handbell music as recommended by instructor
  • Surmani, Andrew, Surmani, Karen Farnum, Manus, Morton, Alfred’s Essentials of Music Theory: A Complete Self-Study Course for All Musicians, Alfred Publishing, 2004, ISBN 9780739036358 (includes 2 CDs and answers)

Course Fee:

Regular Registration – $165 (not including test)

Member Discounted Fee: $125 (not including test)

After completing the coursework, contact certification@handbellmusicians.org to arrange a test or visit this page to see a list of scheduled events where tests may be offered.

Get Recording

Fundamentals of Music with Kathy Kellum

Does looking at that printed music overwhelm you?  Don’t let it intimidate you.  Learn about music fundamentals!  Discover how to understand, read, and interpret all that musical material on the page.  This course is the very basic of music fundamentals—notation, meter, staffs, and musical elements are explained in this course. Let’s “start at the very beginning: a very good place to start.”

Course Fee – $45

Members, be sure to login to your member account before purchasing to get a $10 discount.

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Maintaining a Successful Church-Based Handbell Program with Brian Childers

This 3-course series covers topics relevant to a faith-based handbell program.  Select just one or get all three.

If You Build It, Will They Come?

A case for developing multiple handbell choirs within the liturgical setting. Session number 1 will explore the benefits of building a fully-graded handbell ministry, the rationale behind it, and offer possibilities for a variety of developments and approaches.

Course Fee – $45

Members, be sure to login to your member account before purchasing to get a $10 discount.

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Creative Rehearsal Techniques

A variety of approaches to get what you want from your ringers. Session number 2 will dive into various approaches to rehearsing music to help your ringers grasp and retain concepts, and move towards their best ringing.

Course Fee – $45

Members, be sure to login to your member account before purchasing to get a $10 discount.

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Ringing Deeply

Setting the table for ringers to connect with their Creator. Session number 3 will explore the place of spirituality within the handbell choir community and ways to encourage ringers, choirs, and directors to embrace the Holiness within themselves and their rehearsals.

Course Fee – $45

Members, be sure to login to your member account before purchasing to get a $10 discount.

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Grant Writing for Handbell Ensembles with Derek Nance

Foundations and corporate giving programs have at their disposal large sums of money to fund non-profit organizations. Learn how to find grants and prepare grant paperwork to supplement your organization’s budget and take your fundraising strategy to a new level.

Outcomes:

  • Groups will be able gather the documents needed to apply for grants
  • Groups will be able to find grants
  • Groups will have an outline for a basic grant application

Course Fee – $45

Members, be sure to login to your member account before purchasing to get a $10 discount.

Get Recording