What comes to mind when you hear the word “change”? Is it the amount and value of the coins in your pocket? Is it the new paint color you are considering for the walls? Perhaps it’s a change from your usual vacation destination this time of year.

For myself, and perhaps others of you this year, I am thinking about the changes that happen in the life of a handbell musician.

Some changes involve growth with the instrument such as when the two bells you’ve been playing forever have been reassigned and now you need to learn doubling in the high bells, or how to heft the low bells properly. Thank goodness for all the bell technique classes at Area and National events! Learning opportunities are also available by viewing the archived Virtual Bell Academy classes found at http://academy.handbellmusicians.org. Consider beginning your journey through the Handbell Musician Certification program offered by the Guild which includes graded levels in Handbell Techniques. Find out more at http://certification.handbellmusicians.org/.

The change from a member of the ensemble behind the table to the other side comes with needing a wider variety of skills. Everything from the mechanics of directing, music selection, rehearsal planning, and identifying and preparing ringers will be part of the job. Once again, classes at Area and National events smooth the path as well as all the excellent articles available on the website in the Resource Library of the Member Center and the variety of articles with real-life application in Overtones. If this is the change you are working through, be sure to watch the October 2016 Member Chat with Beth Judd about rehearsal planning archived in the Member Center of the website and visit the Resource Library where you will find answers to many of your questions. Certification classes that may be particularly helpful include Music Theory and Conducting.

Changes that result from an illness or injury can put the brakes on our ability to play this instrument we love. The January 2017 Member Chat with Rob Meyer-Kukan and the Healthy Musician Series available as Virtual Bell Academy recordings cover topics from basic anatomy for musicians to stretching and injury prevention for handbell musicians.

Sometimes changes bring the challenge of finding new people to ring, or a new director to lead the group. The November 2015 Member Chat with PL Grove provides suggestions for turning these challenges into opportunity. Several articles in the Resource Library also address finding, assimilating, and retaining ringers for faith-based as well as community based groups.

Through the years I have found myself working through nearly all the scenarios above, and have, with the knowledge, skills, and networking available from the Guild, continued to grow as a handbell musician. The change before me now is what to do after saying goodbye to the group of church musicians I have been directing for 14 years, and the community group I have been ringing with for 10 years. Where will I find some handbell friends to play with and what if no one wants me? It’s a strange feeling for someone who has not been six years old for more than a few decades. Thankfully, I am finding that my experience is valued as a sub! See the new Member Extras section of the Member Center on the website with Tips and Suggestions for Subs if you find yourself in this position. If a move has you setting up house at a new address, check with your Regional Membership Coordinator at membership@handbellmusicians.org for assistance in locating a handbell ensemble near you.

Change often creates new challenges, and with help from the Guild, I think we can all keep growing as handbell musicians through the changes that life brings.

Mary Willadsen mwilladsen@handbellmusicians.org

Mary Willadsen

Central Regional Membership Coordinator