by Ed Rollins

Normally, transformation is a slow process. It involves re-creation, open minds, and persistence. The Handbell Musicians of America just experienced a transformation that was far from the normal, plodding progress of change. It was a re-creation of amazing proportions, put in place by an open-minded creative team, experienced by open-minded participants, and spearheaded by a persistent belief that we find unity through our handbell art form.

Ed Rollins
Interim Executive Director

The first ever Virtual National Seminar was an unparalleled success and testament to the fact that handbell musicians across the world are eager to put COVID-19 to rest and get on with the opportunity to gather together and make music. Until that time happens, however, we have discovered together that we can make music and bring joy even in times of separation.

Many thanks to Jenny Cauhorn, current Events & Transition Consultant, the Event Planning Committee, and our HMA staff for their incredible work to transform an in-person Seminar into a virtual event of terrific proportions. Their time, energy, and transforming work translated into one of the most successful events in the history of our organization. The positive attitude of all participants and their eagerness to adapt made this an incredibly fun and inspiring event.

Behind the scenes, an entirely new event had to be created in about two months. Performing choirs had to adapt and creatively share their music with us, and didn’t they do an incredible job!? Faculty had to re-think their teaching and adapt for a virtual presentation, and what they did was simply revolutionary. Broadcasting changed, technological crews worked unseen but always present, and hosts were secured to make sure that instructors were teaching rather than worrying about technology. What an amazing team effort and transformation.

We are seeing transformation happen all around the handbell community. Tintabulation Handbell Ensemble hosted a virtual masterclass in late June, Area 12 held their first ever virtual event, and many more such events are in the process of being developed for later this year. During our Seminar, several of the most popular class offerings were related to developing virtual events and creating virtual performances. Change is frequently a slow process but the Handbell Musicians of America is made up of people who are not going to sit around and wait. They are eager to make music and to connect.

Transformation is not limited to those of us in America. During the Seminar I received e-mail messages from as far away as Scotland, to let me know that they were enjoying the opportunity to participate in our Seminar. They are also asking for us to consider making the event both virtual and in-person as we look towards next year. (Our international community is also meeting in two weeks to continue planning the 2022 International Handbell Symposium to be held in Nashville, Tennessee.)

Where do we go from here? That is the question that is puzzling every community, state, school district, church, musical organization, business, etc., around the world. Until the virus begins to dissipate, we remain cautious but eager to return to ringing. There are some things we can do. Read the Handbell Industry Council (HIC) COVID-19 thoughts about ringing during this time (you can find them on the HIC website), plan some socially distant ringing, create a virtual ensemble presentation, send home music so that ringers can begin to practice, have sectional rehearsals, and create virtual training events, just to name a few. Let’s all be a part of “the Zoom where it happens!” (with thanks to Stephanie Shealey of “The Magic of Bronze,” and Lin Manuel-Miranda.)

Whatever you do, continue to be aggressively transformative, positively looking to re-create with open minds and persistence. We will find ways to express hope and joy even when we are apart!

Ed Rollins
erollins@handbellmusicians.org

The first ever Virtual National Seminar was an unparalleled success and testament to the fact that handbell musicians across the world are eager to put COVID-19 to rest and get on with the opportunity to gather together and make music. Until that time happens, however, we have discovered together that we can make music and bring joy even in times of separation.

Many thanks to Jenny Cauhorn, current Events & Transition Consultant, the Event Planning Committee, and our HMA staff for their incredible work to transform an in-person Seminar into a virtual event of terrific proportions. Their time, energy, and transforming work translated into one of the most successful events in the history of our organization. The positive attitude of all participants and their eagerness to adapt made this an incredibly fun and inspiring event.

Behind the scenes, an entirely new event had to be created in about two months. Performing choirs had to adapt and creatively share their music with us, and didn’t they do an incredible job!? Faculty had to re-think their teaching and adapt for a virtual presentation, and what they did was simply revolutionary. Broadcasting changed, technological crews worked unseen but always present, and hosts were secured to make sure that instructors were teaching rather than worrying about technology. What an amazing team effort and transformation.

We are seeing transformation happen all around the handbell community. Tintabulation Handbell Ensemble hosted a virtual masterclass in late June, Area 12 held their first ever virtual event, and many more such events are in the process of being developed for later this year. During our Seminar, several of the most popular class offerings were related to developing virtual events and creating virtual performances. Change is frequently a slow process but the Handbell Musicians of America is made up of people who are not going to sit around and wait. They are eager to make music and to connect.

Transformation is not limited to those of us in America. During the Seminar I received e-mail messages from as far away as Scotland, to let me know that they were enjoying the opportunity to participate in our Seminar. They are also asking for us to consider making the event both virtual and in-person as we look towards next year. (Our international community is also meeting in two weeks to continue planning the 2022 International Handbell Symposium to be held in Nashville, Tennessee.)

Where do we go from here? That is the question that is puzzling every community, state, school district, church, musical organization, business, etc., around the world. Until the virus begins to dissipate, we remain cautious but eager to return to ringing. There are some things we can do. Read the Handbell Industry Council (HIC) COVID-19 thoughts about ringing during this time (you can find them on the HIC website), plan some socially distant ringing, create a virtual ensemble presentation, send home music so that ringers can begin to practice, have sectional rehearsals, and create virtual training events, just to name a few. Let’s all be a part of “the Zoom where it happens!” (with thanks to Stephanie Shealey of “The Magic of Bronze,” and Lin Manuel-Miranda.)

Whatever you do, continue to be aggressively transformative, positively looking to re-create with open minds and persistence. We will find ways to express hope and joy even when we are apart!

Ed Rollins
erollins@handbellmusicians.org

Ed Rollins
Interim Executive Director