This month, we put the spotlight on “Chime In! Music With a Mission,” a community handbell ensemble from Bethlehem, CT directed by Rick Wood.

Their mission as a group is to engage people in the joy and sense of community that music fosters through participation and performance, and I can tell you, they share the joy passionately and from many perspectives.  They have no fewer than four generations ringing at every rehearsal and concert.  More power to them, I say.

Chime in! Music with a Mission
Bethlehem, CT

Our invitation’s in our name: Chime In!
Come join us in the joy and community of music!

Photo 1 Looking in the windowDon’t be just an onlooker – come on in!
Grab a mallet, a djembe, a shaker, a chime, a boomwhacker, and chime in with us!

Our Home base is Bethlehem, CT, where you can catch us celebrating the Christmas season with bells at the annual Bethlehem Christmas Town Festival Handbell Concert.Photo 2 Xmas Town Festival with Santa hats





Photo 3 Community Music Day with children's choirOr making music with local elementary school and church choirs at the annual Spring Ring & Sing Community Music Day in May.




Photo 4 Bells & Berries ShortcakeOr blending handbell music with strawberry shortcake at the annual Bells & Berries event in June.

If you’re more of an outdoorsy type, find us on Main Stage next to the oxen pull at the Bethlehem Fair, where the fresh scent of farm life is a natural part of the outdoor countryside.

Photo 5 Bethlehem Fair Main Stage

Photo 7.2 Festival Arts & Ideas conductorIf you’re not into livestock, enjoy a summer afternoon with us on the New Haven, CT, green at the International Festival of Arts & Ideas, where we warm up the stage for such guests as Roseanne Cash.  The festival offers a variety of performing arts, lectures, and conversations featuring world-class artists, thinkers and leaders from around the world.

Photo 9 Wedding on the beachHead for the beach!  We’ll be there for one of many weddings where we provide music with bells while the ocean breezes tug at our hair and the waves lap at our feet.

Looking for variety?  Our music incorporates a variety of instruments besides handbells.Photo 10 flutePhoto 9 Celtic harp

Celtic harp, flute, boomwhackers, deep bass chimes, tubular chimes, congas, timpani, shakers, djembe, rain stick, claves, tambourine, and more!

Photo 12 Congas

Hungry?   Join us for our annual Ring in the New Year: Dinner & BellsPhoto 14 Chili dinner Chef Steve

Photo 13 Chili dinner Chef KathyWhere Guests feast on chili prepared and served by members of Chime In!

and then enjoy a concert of handbell music performed by the bell choirs of Chime In!

Photo 15 Chili dinner concert

Be Prepared to participate, because there is always one number where the audience chimes in with shakers, drums, jingle bells, chimes, boomwhackers, claves, djembes, bells, and more!

Photo 17 Audience chimers

Photo 16 Audience jingle bell ringer

And the highlight of the evening – two lucky guests are randomly selected to direct the bell choir.  It’s your turn to make them watch the director.

Photo 20 Young guest conductor with gold-shirt mentor

Photo 22 Young guest conductor with blue-shirt mentor

Photo 21 Adult guest conductor

If you’re looking for a more contemplative experience, immerse yourself in the rich acoustics of stone and colonial churches in Connecticut, New England, and beyond, where we are invited to share our handbell music in worship and concert, independently and in collaboration with other music groups.

Photo 26 Performance in colonial churchPhoto 25 Bell Concert sign white churchPhoto 24 Performance in stone churchPhoto 23 Chime In! Concert sign stone church

Wherever you find us, be sure to stay after for the popular petting zoo, where everyone has the chance to try out our instruments.

Photo 27 Petting zoo young ringer in orange shirt

Come and try the 7’s and 8’s until your ears ring.

Photo 28 F6 & F7

Or if you need a work-out, try lifting our super-sized 2’s and 3’s.

Photo 29 Petting zoo young bass bell ringer      Photo 30 Ringer with big bass bells

Chimes, drums, shakers, djembes, boomwhackers, bells, congas, claves, tambourines,
cymbals, timpani, windchimes, tubular chimes – we’ve got ‘em and you can try ’em!

And if you can’t come to us, we are always on the move,
in groups large and small, to share our music:
Bell-a-grams delivered to your home or business,
intimate mini-concerts at nursing homes and rehab centers,
music presentation for a tea.

Come play with us! Visit us at to see our calendar of upcoming events.

photos by Dennis Yates, Melissa Nelson, Sandy Wood


and, a special letter from Rick regarding a chance for you to ring at Carnegie Hall!

Greetings Ringers and Directors,
I have met and worked with many of you at Handbell Festivals and Workshops
throughout New England and I have an exciting opportunity to share with you. It
involves Carnegie Hall.

I have been working with Julian Revie, Composer in Residence at St. Thomas More
Chapel at Yale University.

Julian is organizing a concert at Carnegie Hall on June 29: a joint project of Yale and
Cambridge universities, conducted by Stephen Layton from Cambridge and featuring
choirs from both universities as well as the Oslo Chamber Choir, choirs from several
local cathedrals, and the National Children’s Chorus. The concert will include the
premiere of a new piece by Julian, Mass of the Divine Shepherd, for chorus, orchestra,
children’s chorus, and handbells. We will have 150 adult singers on stage, an orchestra
that includes many NY Phil players, 150 children singing from the boxes all around the hall, and 100 handbell ringers throughout the hall. We will make a live recording which we hope to distribute on a major label.

This concert is the launch event for a major Yale-led initiative to provide sheet music and music education software online, all free to the world; this new initiative is already helping choirs in many disadvantaged parts of the world obtain free sheet music and free vocal training using computers and smartphones (

We are looking for handbell ringers who will be available for a rehearsal at the Area 1
Handbell Festival at UMass and available the day after the Festival, June 29, at Carnegie Hall in NYC. The fifth movement of the mass involves 4 minutes of handbells ringing randomly, while spreading in a specific pattern across the hall. Other movements involve handbells as well. If you will not be at Festival but are interested, please contact me and we can discuss possibilities.

The June 29 schedule will include 11:00 a.m. Rehearsal for Handbells, 3:00 p.m. Final
Rehearsal of the entire work, and 7:30 p.m. Concert. Dinner will be provided after the
Final Rehearsal.

The concert page is:  If you and / or any of your ringers or ringing friends would be interested, please contact me at [email protected].

Thank you very much,
Rick Wood
Director of Music
Chime In! Music With a Mission
Bethlehem, Connecticut
[email protected]

If you are interested in having your group, or a group that you know of, put in the spotlight for a little free press, please contact [email protected].  You (or someone in the group) will be asked for a short write-up of what makes the group fun, unique, special, or just some of the activities that the group has done and/or has planned.  2-4 Pictures are always welcome!