Area 1 Festival/Conference 2023 – Course Offerings

NOTE: Course selections and Faculty are still subject to change.  Last update to this page: 2/11/2023.

Course Numbering System

100s Ringing Techniques
200s Solo and Ensemble
300s More Ringing – Festival Choirs, etc
400s Theory, Conducting, Analysis, and other study classes
500s Repertoire Reading Sessions
600s Handbell Education
700s Non-handbell classes
800s Handbell Maintenance

Any class number that ends with “T” is a track, and you are required to sign up for all sessions of the track.


101 Handbell Techniques from A to Z Sessions F.3, S.1

Susan Lee 

Beginning with the basic ringing stroke, this class will review all the handbell techniques you’ve ever heard of, and perhaps introduce you to some techniques you haven’t encountered yet. Emphasis will be on executing the techniques correctly, musically, and safely – for both you and the bells.

102 Mallets and Other Stopped Techniques Session F.3, S.5

Evie Sessions, Pete Larson

This hands-on techniques class will focus on proper form while playing a martellato, plucking, or with mallets. The primary focus is on Mallet technique and practice — one mallet, two mallets (or more!), and mallet rolls. We will also review Pluck, Tap-Pluck, Pluck-Lift, Thumb Damp, Hand Damp, Martellato, Mart-Lift, Hand Mart, and Ring-Touch. We’ll play some practice drills and some snip-its of real music where these techniques come into play.

103 Treble Techniques Sessions S.1, S.3

Susan Ewing

Have you ever wanted to learn how treble ringers make music with all those bells on the table in front of them?  This course will cover the basics of two common treble techniques – Shelly and Four in Hand.  We’ll spend time discussing the two techniques, when they are used, and most importantly, learn how to ring them both! This class is open to anyone who would like to learn these techniques, which are most commonly used by ringers from C6 and up.


104 Advanced Treble Four-in-Hand Sessions S.1, S.6

Lauren Larson  

Are you comfortable with Four in Hand and Shelley but want to know how to thumb damp, pluck, mart, shake, and weave with 4iH? This is the class for you! We’ll start with different ways to hold the bells and practice these articulations and scenarios. Bring your own unique challenge with you and we’ll tackle it together.

105 Ringing from traditional English Number Notations Sessions F.2, F.3

Martin Winter  

In England handbell ringing music has often been written in number notations. This class looks at elements of the history and varieties of this form of notation. Attendees will ring pieces using a range of number notations to gain personal experience of this historic way of ringing.

106 The Technique of English Off-Table Ringing Sessions S.5, S.6

Sandra Winter

This class is a practical opportunity to learn the traditional “off-table” English ringing technique. See how damping, weaving, passing and other techniques are used with this method of “backringing.”

107 All About That Bass – But Safely Sessions F.3

Emlee Kohler  

Ringing low bass bells (B3 and below) takes special care for both the ringer and the instrument. In this session we will cover some of the unique concerns of ringing the big bells like: preparation/assignments (including what to do when you only have 2 ringers to cover 3 positions), bell changes/runs, when to hold ‘em and when (AND where!) to damp ‘em, and general ringer safety. This is a hands-on class, please bring gloves.

108 All About That Bass – But Strategically Sessions S.6 Emlee Kohler

This class will discuss advanced bass bell, typically B3 and below, techniques. Emphasis will be placed on how to create assignments, where to place the bells on the table, and troubleshooting difficulty musical passages to enhance musicality. Depending on interest, some time can be spent discussing how to best cover notes with both full choirs and fewer-than-the-normal-number-of-ringers.

109 Weaving Session S.1, S.5, U.1

Sue Chamberlin, Joyce Terry, Susan Capestro

Do you struggle with changing bells? Don’t know where the bells are after you have made a change? End up cutting one note short in order to drop that bell and pick up a different one? Weaving can solve all those problems. This class will begin with a review of basic weaving skills and move towards being able to weave a simple melody.

110 T Musicality through Motion (2 Session Track) Sessions S.3, S.6

Kimberlee Strepka  

Although our instrument is often thought of as limited in flexibility, Movement Theorist, Rudolf Laban, provides us with vocabulary and concepts that partner perfectly with handbell artistry and allow us to ring with great expressivity. All handbell musicians bring to the table “movement preferences” we have developed by adulthood. Because these preferences cause each of us to approach ringing with different movement attitudes, our ringing can lack distinctive characteristics of style both sonically and visually. participants will learn the basics of Movement Theory and discover their own personal movement profiles — their ringing “assets and liabilities.”

Session 2, using the principles and vocabulary learned in Session 1, will include ringing through a movement-based method for expanding the sonic and visual possibilities for performance, ringing with intentionality, two-dimensional vs. three-dimensional ringing, learning how to troubleshoot technique-related challenges through movement principles, selecting repertoire and assigning ringing positions based on movement profiles, and exploring some of the visual elements that affect stage artistry.​



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201 Small Ensembles or “Less Than a Full Choir” Sessions S.3, S.5

Susan Lee  

Small ensembles provide the opportunity for using your organizations handbells when you only have a few ringers. There are numerous resources available now, with suggestions for mixed levels of abilities. Small ensembles (4-6 ringers) can give eager ringers another source for ringing, and a chance to ring in a bell range to which they are not normally assigned. Come as a group to learn a piece to take home, or come and form a group at the workshop. Tins/Coppers will ring with few bell changes. Bronze level will learn how to share bells.

202 Enhancing Your Solo Ringing Sessions S.3, S.5

Karen James  

What does the music say to you, and how will you convey that to the audience? No need to wait- even if you are just learning to solo ring, or if you already have played some solos -you can start now conveying the emotion of the music to your audience. You are the instrument that communicates what the music says. Be the Music!

203 The Three “Effs” of Solo Ringing Sessions S.1

Debra LeBrun  

The three “Effs” of solo ringing – How to ring a solo efficiently, effectively, and effortlessly (or at least make it appear that way)! We will work on ways to improve these three “Effs” so that the musicality of your solo performance can shine through. Be prepared to do some hands-on ringing in this class.

204 Trust your Memory Sessions U.1

Debra LeBrun

Performing by memory is an essential skill for solo ringing, but it is also a useful skill for all handbell ringers. We will explore ways to develop your ability to memorize music and we will even do a little ringing by memory. This class is open to both solo ringers and others who want to learn how to develop memorization skills. Be prepared to do some ringing in this class. Bring your Festival music to class!

205 Solo Coaching Sessions S.1, S.5

Emily Li

Watching a solo ringer dancing along the table is a delightful experience. In this workshop, Emily will offer 15- 20-min one-on-one coaching to each participant, sharing tips and techniques of solo ringing in order to ring musically and artistically. Participants will observe Emily’s coaching coaching of other ringers.

Participants should submit the following one week before the workshop:

  1. A copy of the music (for use as a reference during the coaching)
  2. A video of the participant playing the piece with a clear view of the ringer and the bell table. Accompaniment is not necessary.
  3. A brief background about your solo ringing experience.



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301 T Coppers Festival Choir (3 Session Track) Sessions F.3, S.1, S.5

Griff Gall

For Coppers level ringers who want an additional ringing challenge, this Coppers Festival Choir Track is a three-session opportunity to rehearse and perform a challenging level 2+ or level 3 composition at the final mini-concert.  Attendance at all three sessions is important for musical continuity.  This is a great opportunity to try a new ringing position. Music will be provided at the first session of this track.  Please bring gloves and a music binder.

A sheet music fee of $5 for this track will be charged at the time of registration.


302 T Bronze Festival Choir (3 Session Course) Sessions F.2, S.3, S.6

Andy Wallace

Can’t get enough ringing?  This Bronze Festival Choir Track is a three-session track opportunity for advanced, experienced ringers who want more!  The class will rehearse and perform a challenging level 5 to 6, five octave composition at the final mini-concert.  Attendance at all three sessions is important for musical continuity.  This is a great opportunity to get out of your comfort zone and try a new ringing position.  Music will be provided at the first session of this track.  Please bring gloves and a music binder.

A sheet music fee of $5 for this track will be charged at the time of registration.


303 Tins Rehearsal Observation and Mentoring Sessions F.2, S.3, S.6, U.1

Emily Li

This is your opportunity to sit in on the Tins rehearsal in an intimate setting.  Emily has been working with beginning ringers since the founding of the Hong Kong Academy in 2004, and thousands of students have learnt handbell ringing through their training programs. This session offers you a glimpse at the methods used at the Academy.  You can ring along side the Tins ringers, sit in the back and observe, OR… for two lucky participants, you can serve as mentors/assistants during the course. Current directors interested in being a mentor should submit a short essay outlining what your goals are for the session, as well as your experience as a director. NOTE: Mentors MUST attend all sessions.

Please purchase your own copies of Tins repertoire prior to the start of Festival/Conference.


304  Bell Berserkers Sessions S.5, S.6, U.1

Pete Larson, Kim Visbaras, Rick Wood

Can’t get enough? Come learn a new piece in a high-energy environment. In one class, you and your cohorts will learn a new piece of music (level 3 or higher), and get it as close to performance-ready perfection as you can, including all the musicality and artistry. Bring your gloves and a smile. Leave satisfied with a fun piece of music to keep. Each session will prepare a different piece of music.

A sheet music fee of $5 for this course will be charged at the time of registration.



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Theory, Analysis, and Other Study Classes

401 What’s the Score? Sessions F.2, F.3 Karen James  

How well do you know your music? Here’s an opportunity to unlock the door to the world of really understanding all those black notes on the page. By learning how to see the different parts that make up the whole piece and finding “goal posts,” you will be able to watch the conductor more, turn pages without casualties and ultimately become a better ringer. When you learn how to learn your music, you will truly know it. BRING MASSED MUSIC to class.

402 Rhythm in a Flash Sessions F.3, S.3

Holly Cerullo  

This is a series of flash card rhythm learning games. Using several one measure flash cards, we will play several different games. We will use clapping, body movements, and ringing to indicate each rhythm. The rhythms range from simple, level one, to challenging, level 4 and the games are varied from simple clapping to group cooperation. This is a fun way to practice note reading, rhythm, and working together. The only thing you need is a pair of gloves.  All levels welcome.

403 Are Ye Able? Ring With Confidence Sessions S.5

Holly Cerullo  

You know the saying, “Ready, willing, and able!” If you are willing, don’t let the “able” – age or physical challenges – keep you from ringing. Let’s explore and share ways to become the ringer you’ve always wanted to be.

404 Basic (Beginners) Conducting Sessions F.3, U.1

Joy Toll-Chandler  

Called on to move from being a ringer to a conductor? This Introduction to Conducting class will help you learn three basic beat patterns, simple entrances and cut-offs, dynamics, and how to use each of your hands differently in your conducting. There will be a brief look at score preparation and, of course, how to use a baton! (Bring one if you have it)

405 T Advanced conducting (2 Session Track) Sessions F.2, S.3

Karen E Leonard  

A conductor is a communicator of music who enables the performers to express the composer’s intentions. We must bring the music to life from the printed page. This is a three-session track designed for directors or ringers with some previous conducting experience. We will explore some ideas about how to communicate through gesture, technique, and teaching. Bring a baton if you use one (one will be available to borrow if you want to experiment), and a smile! 😉


406 Basic Music Theory Sessions F.2, S.1

Joy Toll-Chandler  

No need to be frightened of the “T” word – theory is FUN!,  So Let’s have some fun learning basic music theory! We’ll work on a “Bingo card concept” and even play a game (complete with a prize) at the end! B: BASIC Rhythmic values (whole/half/quarter/eighth/sixteenth notes); time signatures I: INTERVALS – Whole steps/half steps; Triads (major/minor); basic melodic intervals (as time allows) N: Reading NOTES on a staff – treble and bass clef G: GETTING IT ALL TOGETHER: Key signatures (major/minor, circle of fifths), flats and sharps O: OTHER interesting basics – Enharmonic notes, handbells on a staff, dynamics and more Hold onto your hats – it will be quite a ride!

407 Beyond Basic Theory Sessions S.3, S.5

Jane Nolan

We will not just “listen” to a lesson on theory, we will “work” with some more theoretical issues like the “curse” of compound time, and “How do I remember the sharps and flats in the key signature and why are they there?”, “What do you mean I’m playing the melody? How would I know that, and what difference does it make in how I ring the note?” “I’m ringing the notes on the page, how much more musical do you want?”.



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501 Rep Reading: New Music Session F.2

Gina Williams

Explore exciting new handbell compositions and arrangements published within the last few years. This session includes a broad spectrum of music suitable for church or concert use.


502 Rep Reading: Level 2- can do! Session S.1

Diane Burke  

Level 2 handbell pieces can provide both a respite in a more challenging program as well as an opportunity for more beginner ringers to stretch their abilities. We’ll take a look at several possibilities that you can draw from, so come and find something to add to your own repertoire!

503 Pop/Rock Rep Reading Session S.3

Debra Lebrun

Let’s have some fun sight-reading arrangements of Pop/Rock tunes. The music will be primarily level 3, 3+, and 4.

504  Hymn Tunes for Handbells Session U.1

Karen E. Leonard  

We will read through several handbell selections based on Hymn Tunes.  Discussion may include appropriate seasonal use of the music as well as the arranger’s presentation of the Hymn Tune.

505 Rep Reading: Christmas in June Session F.1

Joy Toll-Chandler  

Christmas music for a “variety of sizes” – mostly new/recent works (with traditional carols, popular tunes, and original compositions) – for both small ensembles and full choirs. Something for everyone.

506  Rep Reading: Ring with what you’ve got! Sessions S.2, S.8

Marilyn Becker, Susan Capestro

Sometimes you just don’t have enough ringers to fill an ensemble. In this session we’ll make the best of the situation and find music from our “Oldies but Goodies” collection that we can ring no matter how many hands we’ve got.

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601 Teambuilding (By Someone Who Hates ‘Icebreakers’) For Ringers Sessions F.2, S.1

Greg Urban

Tired of those awkward ‘Icebreaker’ activities that just seem to be all goofy and not actually engaging? Looking for a way to connect with other members of your bell group? Want to just have some fun connecting with others? Come on down and experience connection activities you can use with your group back home. In addition, we’ll experience a problem-solving initiative or two that can be related directly to ringing, or speaking to your ensemble’s culture and norms. Includes write-ups for activities.

602 An Incomplete Guide to Arranging Pop Music for Bells Session U.1

Greg Urban   

Interested in arranging pop music for bells? Curious if your favorite song will “work” on bells? And what’s the deal with permission and arranging anyway? This session will cover some basic workflows to arranging pop music, what makes for a ‘good’ song to play on bells, and how to go about obtaining arrangement rights. Will include a basic notation software overview, but little direct instruction in how to use the software.

603 The Science of Handbells Sessions S.6, U.1

Cade Murray   

What’s really happening when you hear a bell ringing? From a sound generation point of view, bells are one of the most complex musical instruments out there; more than a violin, piano, or pipe organ! Come learn about the amazing physics of handbells as well as related topics such as metallurgy, acoustics, and overtones. You will even get to see the sound waves created by bells from different manufacturers and learn how each one produces their unique character.

604 Children with Bells, Chimes, and Boomwhackers Session S.1

Jean Degan

Children are like sponges with learning. Play a song with chimes, now transfer the same to another instrument and they get double the practice and double the fun. Let’s be children for this class and have a great time while learning.

605 Handbells in Worship Session U.1

Jean Degan

Playing an anthem during Worship is not the only use of bells. We can be really creative when using bells in worship, especially in Liturgical Churches.

606 The Human Experience (The Rainbow Connection) Session U.1

Matt Compton

What does it mean to connect to the music? To our congregations and audiences? The people ringing with us? Explore many ways to enhance your musical performance and playing through an in depth look at musical nuance, memorization, and the responsibility we have as musicians to create a musical and emotional connection with everyone we encounter and how to achieve that. Be prepared to explore and discuss the ins and outs of the emotional and mental human experience within handbells and how to create that “rainbow connection” with everyone we play with and for.

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701 T African Drumming With A Twist (2 Session Track) Sessions F.3, S.1

Kim Visbaras 

Something new for 2023: With one less day together, this track is going to be like no prior FC drumming class. We still need you to bring any djembes, kenkenis, sangbas, dun-duns, congas, bongos, tubanos, doumbeks, cajons or like drum that you or your friends have to learn a cool African rhythm. But what’s new is a complete surprise…the only way to find out is to sign up! I promise that you and anyone listening won’t be disappointed!!!!!

Remember this is a two-part track, sign up for both!

702 General techniques and tips for percussion instruments Sessions S.5, S.6

Chris Hazel

Handbell music often includes optional or required percussion parts.  The goal of this class is to arm ringers and directors with the basic tools for executing effective percussion performance to the hand bell repertoire.  We’ll learn effective techniques (with many hands-on opportunities) for playing many auxiliary percussion instruments such as tambourine, triangle, cymbals, finger cymbals, woodblocks, claves, cajons, and others. We’ll also explore what considerations we will need to bring to our general approach to each instrument for achieving not just competency but musicality.  There should be ample time for Q&A so feel free to bring your most burning questions.

703 Maybe I’ll Try Barbershop-Style A Cappella Singing   Sessions S.5, S.6

Bill Degan, tenor in Hartford Men in Harmony

What makes barbershop-style a cappella singing unique? Can I try singing in a BBS chorus? Now that the Barbershop Harmony Society invites all-gender groups to join, in that spirit, let’s learn a “tag” and a song with parts in a range for everyone who comes! And the song will be an arrangement we can sing in Sunday’s ecumenical worship service – you are encouraged to participate!

704 Feel the Beat with Your Feet! Sessions F.3, S.3

Diane Burke  

You might not think you can dance, but you already have many of the skills needed to make your body do what ringing bells can! Rhythm, timing, tempo changes and visual presentation are ingrained in your brain through rehearsals and months of practice… let’s take it to the next level and let your whole body express the music. We’ll use 2 pieces from our Festival repertoire to explore some simple dance steps, and who knows- you may step up to the table with a whole new sense of the music next time you play. No partner needed, no requirements here except a willingness to move and have fun!

705  Game & Craft Space Open Saturday & Sunday

Jenn Stack

Come on over to our open space to explore different games and fun activities.  We created this space so that you would be able to build in some fun visiting and/or networking time with other Area 1 HMA members. We encourage you to use this space whenever you wish in order to take some downtime, have some fun, and try new things.  Offerings in the game room include but are not limited to: Crimes Against Handbells, Spoons, Otamatone Explorations, resting your tired legs on the comfy couches, socializing with friends, meeting new people, board games, Boomwhackers, decorating tee shirts, making handbell paintings, and whatever else we come up with!  If you wish to take your festival conference t-shirt to the next level?

706 Bling Your Festival T-Shirt! Session F.3; See Game Room

Allyson Printz, and Kathy Konkle

Bring your artistic flair and either come with your own accessories (try rooting around in your sewing kit for inspiration!) or use ours. Iron-on selections, fabric remnants, double-sided fusible interfacing, embroidery floss, lace, rick rack trim, glue, scissors will be provided.  Examples of t-shirt enhancements will be available.

Come once, twice, or as much as you want-we can’t wait to see you there!

707 The Movement within the Music   Session S.5, U.1

Kimberlee Strepka

Because music moves through time and is created through movement, it can be analyzed, described, and taught in any musical setting using the vocabulary of Movement Theorist, Rudolf Laban. Listening for the movement within different styles of music, identifying the distinguishing elements, choosing repertoire based on movement will be discussed. You’ll never listen to music the same way again once you listen for the movement.

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801 Basic Whitechapel Maintenance Session U.1

Sandra and Martin Winter

This class will review the basic maintenance steps applicable to Whitechapel handbells. It will include hand polishing, spring adjustment and spring re-felting. Additional recommendations will be given for identifying when refurbishment may be required.

802 Schulmerich Maintenance Session S.4, U.1

Sue Chamberlin

Get to know your instrument! This hands-on class will be especially useful for those who are the designated “fixers” or equipment managers of their ensembles. During this class you will disassemble, and then properly reassemble a Schulmerich handbell so you will know the parts and their function. Learn how to make adjustments and keep your bells and chimes in smooth, effortless working order. Tips and tricks on disassembly for cleaning or for replacement of broken parts will be provided. Bring a bell (G4-B5 range) and your tool kit.  You may also bring other problem bells and Melody Chimes to class and we’ll work on them.

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