by Michael R. Keller
NOTE: Permission granted to make copies of Tips & Tools materials for choir or classroom use. Must be a current member of Handbell Musicians of America and may not transfer usage rights to a non-member without permission.
These drills are designed to help ringers begin to learn the technical, coordination, and musical skills required for ringing and damping quickly. This involves reading and interpreting the music by moving the eyes across the page and reacting quickly enough to play on time. Focus, concentration, and counting skills are also developed.
All ringers are assigned to play the same notes in a wandering musical line, no matter what bells they are holding. That way everyone gets the same amount of work, and mistakes are all the more obvious. The space note should be played by the left hand, no matter what bell is being held, and the line note is rung by the right hand.
Remember that damping on time is just as important as ringing on time. Keep using good technique.
Start all drills SLOWLY, then gradually increase the tempo of the repetitions. Move on to a new drill when it becomes obvious that ringers are learning the material. This helps sight-reading skills as well.
Please DO NOT count for the ringers. Insist that they count out loud, dividing the beat, on every exercise. It is also suggested that difficult rhythms be clapped and that ringers be given time to work out handbell changes before playing the drills where they are required.
Above all, approach the exercises with a light, humorous touch. This helps reduce frustration and encourages the ringers. The atmosphere should be almost game-like. Help the ringers enjoy learning their new skills. .
Michael R. Keller