Course A – Martha Lynn Thompson, Instructor

Handbell History

This course is now only available online.  To take the online course, you must be registered for Handbell Musician Certification AND be logged into the member account that holds the record of your registration.  To learn how to register for certification, return to the main Handbell Musician Certification Page.

Read the course description and review the resources below.  Then follow these steps to complete the online course:

  1. Login to your Member account.
  2. If you haven’t already, register for Handbell Musician Certification.
  3. Then, return to this page and begin the online course by clicking the button below.
  4. Complete the test at the end of the course.  Make sure you download the Change Ring Activity at the end of the test, then complete it and follow the instructions for sending to the national office for final assessment.
  5. You can check to see if you passed the class by logging in, and then under “What would you like to do?” choose “My Registered Events.”  Next, select “Handbell Musician Certification” to see your certification record.  Any class that has been successfully completed will be listed.  If a class is not listed, then you did not pass.  Results from this course will be posted within 30 days of completion and receipt of both sections of the test.


Course Description

This portion of the course will cover the history of handbells in England, simple change ringing (Plain Hunt), the history of handbells in the United States (including the formation of the New England Guild and AGEHR), and the organization of AGEHR today (Handbell Musicians of America)

Students will be expected to do the following to pass this portion of the course:

1. Draw a graph for Plain Hunt on six bells, tracking the path of two specific bells

2. Pass a written exam which includes:

a. The history of handbells in England and in the United States

b. P. T. Barnum’s connection with handbells

c. Information about:

i. The New England Guild of English Handbell Ringers

ii. AGEHR/Handbell Musicians of America’s early and current leadership and its current organization

iii. Benefits of Handbell Musicians of America membership

iv. Opportunities for supporting Handbell Musicians of America

v. Handbell Musicians of America products and services



Online text for the course provided – required information

Download a PDF of the on-line course material here.  This MUST be reviewed and studied in detail prior to taking the live class.


General bibliography [recommended]


  • AGEHR, Overtones – 1955 – 1986, Dayton,OH, 1987  — Available in the Guild Store.

On-Line Resources