by J.R. Smith

As i recently worked to update our Discovering Your Membership pages, I was struck by the number of event we now offer and, as we often say, there is truly something for everyone. Six years ago, I wrote my column about attending an event not as an employee but as a member. I’d like to share that column with you again here.

J.R. Smith
Publications Director

Always Looking for New Content

Instructional Articles

  • Rehearsal & Teaching Techniques
  • Programming
  • Building and Organizing a  Program
  • Marketing & Communication
  • Building/Using Equipment

Music

  • Processionals & Fanfares
  • Hymn Accompaniments
  • Arrangements for Less than a Full Choir
  • Learning Pieces

Educational Materials

  • Music Lesson Plans
  • Rehearsal Exercises

Features

  • Human interest stories about the people who make handbells special
  • Articles about especially unique handbell events or programs from which someone else could gain ideas
Originally published in the March/April 2013 issue of Overtones. Please note the dates and events are not current.

As publications director for Handbell Musicians of America, I have the pleasure of attending our many national events and, from time to time, some of our amazing Area events. Rarely, unfortunately, do I actually get to attend an event, not in an official capacity, but as an attendee.

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to attend the Area 5 Spring Festival/Conference in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, not as an employee of the Guild, but as a handbell musician. It has been quite a few years since I’ve done that, and I was surprised at how much of the experience I have missed.

While I might want to believe I know as much about handbells as there is to know, classes offered at both Area and national events continue to prove differently. Certainly I know most of the techniques used in ringing, and I pretty much know all the notation and the differences between ringing in the bass and treble. But classes aren’t just about teaching all the tried and true techniques. Even we “veterans” can always learn something new—perhaps a new way to ring multiple bells or even something as simple as a quicker way to assemble and pick up a 4-in-hand setup. Taking seemingly “off-topic” classes, such as those on Maori sticks or world drumming can add new layers to the way we approach handbell music. And even taking a class on something we think we already know, but from a different instructor, can provide a new perspective that maybe we didn’t realize existed.

I especially enjoy meeting up with friends who share a common interest. When I first began attending handbell events almost 15 years ago, my circle of friends doubled, if not tripled. Sadly, most of these friends I only got to see once or twice a year, but many of them became as close as those friends I see on a daily basis. Since the popularity of Facebook and cell phone plans with unlimited texting plans has exploded, we are all fortunate enough to have a way to communicate in realtime, but nothing beats attending an event and getting to see each other face-to-face, experience each other’s reactions to the stories we have to share, and enjoy a real hug, rather than the ubiquitous text-speak {{{HUGGGS}}}.

Then, of course, there is the primary reason for attending a handbell event: making music. Sure, we all get to ring on a regular basis in our own ensembles at home, but what can compare to participating in the ultimate team activity with three to five hundred other like-minded individuals?

We have all experienced the almost metaphysical connection we have with other when we are finally performing a piece of music in perfect sync. One of my favorite quotes comes from the late David Davidson, who said that music has the ability to change the molecules in the room. And there is certainly nothing like being in a room with hundreds of other people, all working together to bring the molecules of the space into harmony with their thoughts and emotions through the vibrations of handbells and handchimes. There is such a realization of “oneness” that occurs when a musical work reaches its final chord that cannot be described but merely experienced.

I encourage each of you to take advantage of one of Handbell Musicians of America’s most valuable benefits, its many and varied events.

And on a side-note: as a Handbell Musicians of America member, you may now list your own events, be they massed ringing events, workshops, or even individual concerts through our new monthly e-newsletter Event-Notes. Just go to eventnotes.HandbellMusicians.org and enter your event’s information. Each issue will cover events occurring during the following three months. Then be sure to subscribe to both Event-Notes and E-Notes at newsletters.HandbellMusicians.org, so that you can stay informed about all the local, Area, and national events going on around you.

J.R. Smith
jrsmith@handbellmusicians.org

Originally published in the March/April 2013 issue of Overtones. Please note the dates and events are not current.

As publications director for Handbell Musicians of America, I have the pleasure of attending our many national events and, from time to time, some of our amazing Area events. Rarely, unfortunately, do I actually get to attend an event, not in an official capacity, but as an attendee.

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to attend the Area 5 Spring Festival/Conference in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, not as an employee of the Guild, but as a handbell musician. It has been quite a few years since I’ve done that, and I was surprised at how much of the experience I have missed.

While I might want to believe I know as much about handbells as there is to know, classes offered at both Area and national events continue to prove differently. Certainly I know most of the techniques used in ringing, and I pretty much know all the notation and the differences between ringing in the bass and treble. But classes aren’t just about teaching all the tried and true techniques. Even we “veterans” can always learn something new—perhaps a new way to ring multiple bells or even something as simple as a quicker way to assemble and pick up a 4-in-hand setup. Taking seemingly “off-topic” classes, such as those on Maori sticks or world drumming can add new layers to the way we approach handbell music. And even taking a class on something we think we already know, but from a different instructor, can provide a new perspective that maybe we didn’t realize existed.

I especially enjoy meeting up with friends who share a common interest. When I first began attending handbell events almost 15 years ago, my circle of friends doubled, if not tripled. Sadly, most of these friends I only got to see once or twice a year, but many of them became as close as those friends I see on a daily basis. Since the popularity of Facebook and cell phone plans with unlimited texting plans has exploded, we are all fortunate enough to have a way to communicate in realtime, but nothing beats attending an event and getting to see each other face-to-face, experience each other’s reactions to the stories we have to share, and enjoy a real hug, rather than the ubiquitous text-speak {{{HUGGGS}}}.

Then, of course, there is the primary reason for attending a handbell event: making music. Sure, we all get to ring on a regular basis in our own ensembles at home, but what can compare to participating in the ultimate team activity with three to five hundred other like-minded individuals?

We have all experienced the almost metaphysical connection we have with other when we are finally performing a piece of music in perfect sync. One of my favorite quotes comes from the late David Davidson, who said that music has the ability to change the molecules in the room. And there is certainly nothing like being in a room with hundreds of other people, all working together to bring the molecules of the space into harmony with their thoughts and emotions through the vibrations of handbells and handchimes. There is such a realization of “oneness” that occurs when a musical work reaches its final chord that cannot be described but merely experienced.

I encourage each of you to take advantage of one of Handbell Musicians of America’s most valuable benefits, its many and varied events.

And on a side-note: as a Handbell Musicians of America member, you may now list your own events, be they massed ringing events, workshops, or even individual concerts through our new monthly e-newsletter Event-Notes. Just go to eventnotes.HandbellMusicians.org and enter your event’s information. Each issue will cover events occurring during the following three months. Then be sure to subscribe to both Event-Notes and E-Notes at newsletters.HandbellMusicians.org, so that you can stay informed about all the local, Area, and national events going on around you.

J.R. Smith
jrsmith@handbellmusicians.org

J.R. Smith
Publications Director

Always Looking for New Content

Instructional Articles

  • Rehearsal & Teaching Techniques
  • Programming
  • Building and Organizing a  Program
  • Marketing & Communication
  • Building/Using Equipment

Music

  • Processionals & Fanfares
  • Hymn Accompaniments
  • Arrangements for Less than a Full Choir
  • Learning Pieces

Educational Materials

  • Music Lesson Plans
  • Rehearsal Exercises

Features

  • Human interest stories about the people who make handbells special
  • Articles about especially unique handbell events or programs from which someone else could gain ideas