Festival Conference 2023 Course Offerings have not been announced yet, but here are the classes that were offered in 2022.

Area 1 Festival/Conference 2022 – Course Offerings

NOTE: Course selections and Faculty are still subject to change.  Last update to this page: 1/25/2022.

Course Numbering System

100s Ringing Techniques
200s Solo and Ensemble
300s More Ringing – Festival Choirs, etc
400s Effective Handbell Leadership *** This is a new offering***
500s Theory, Conducting, Analysis, and other study classes
600s Repertoire Reading Sessions
700s Discussion, Lecture, and Roundtable
800s Non-handbell classes
900s 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                   2.2, 3.6                Sue 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  Stopped Techniques                                          2.6, 3.2, 3.8        Pete Larson

Triangles, Arrows, Dots, and Plus Signs.  This hands-on techniques class will focus on proper form while playing a martellatto, plucking, or with mallets.  We’ll talk about and practice Mallet rolls (both suspended and on the table), 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 snipits of real music where these techniques come into play.


103  Weaving                                                                2.2, 2.7, 3.6        Larry Berdensey

Have you ever wanted to become a weaving maniac?  This class will begin with a review of basic weaving skills and move towards executing proper techniques in order to become successful at weaving handbells. Topics will include the shoulder and table damp, the one bell change, and the center bell pass, all prerequisites in becoming a successful weaver. Participants will be able to weave a simple melody by the end of class.Be sure to bring a binder, your gloves, and your dancing shoes.


104  Advanced Treble Techniques                           2.8, 3.7, 3.10      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.


107 All about that Bass… but SAFELY!                    2.2, 2.6                              Emlee C. 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  Beyond BASSics                                                   3.2                        Nick Hanson

Having previously established a foundational understanding of ringing bass bells, the focus of this class will involve recognizing potential problem areas in level 3 and 4 handbell music, how proper setup assignments will be an asset towards the preparation and performance of these problem areas, and how other approaches to techniques can assist in overall performance on this level of music.


109   How Do I Ring That Bell?                                  2.6, 2.7, 2.8        Debra LeBrun

Those nasty little accidentals in the music can cause such trouble for bell ringers! We will practice all the different ways there are to play extra bells: switching bells efficiently, weaving, Shelley and 4-in-hand, and other creative solutions. We will talk about the pros and cons of the various solutions in different situations. Please bring your folder to class because we will be playing examples from the Festival repertoire.


110  The Chime of Your Life                                      3.7, 3.8                Kristen Russo and Jennifer Stack

This class will encompass all things Chimes (except repair) – how to get ‘em, and what to do with ‘em. We will explore the use of chimes in various settings, different ways to utilize chimes, and how Chimes can be the gateway instrument to bells! This is an instructional and hands on class. Come prepared with questions, no gloves needed.


111  Call Change Ringing                                            2.8, 4.3                Karen James

Tired of reading music? Give your eyes a break with this class, which uses a numbering system rather than the notes on the page! Change ringing is the art of ringing a series of bells in several changes of the original order. “Call Change Ringing” differs from the usual way in that a ringer calls out a change prior to its execution. We will discuss the history of change ringing and experience the ‘Call Change Ringing”. Please bring gloves.


112  Keeping Up Handbell Skills                               2.2, 2.8                Nick Hanson

Just like any other musical performance medium, practice is necessary in order to grow. However, let’s be honest, handbells are not the easiest instrument to rent, purchase, or borrow! Even so, you can still grow as a musician without access to handbells. Properly-executed motion is necessary to ring a handbell, and precise timing is necessary to ring the handbell on beat. However, handbells themselves are NOT necessary to develop these fundamentals. This class will explore ways to keep ringing skills sharp, as well as how to practice your handbell music at home without requiring handbells.


113  Back (Ringing) to the Future                            2.7, 3.7                Aidan Fozard

Back Ringing, known as Off Table in the UK, is a traditional style of playing handbells still widely practiced across the UK. This class will explore this technique, giving historical context for its use and hands on experience. Taught by someone who learnt as an American “Off Shoulder” ringer and who conducts a mixed technique team, this session will give you the fundamentals to allow you to integrate and develop use over time with your choir.


115  Bell Trees                                                               2.6, 2.7                Peter Grossmann

Bell trees are for EVERYONE! From beginner students to advanced ringers, they can be played by a soloist, a small ensemble, or with a full bell choir. This class covers bell tree setup and technique, where to find music, and creative ways to use bell trees in worship, concerts, and special settings. It also allows plenty of hands-on time for participants to try for themselves!



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201  Ready to Go Solo?                                              2.2, 3.8                Debra LeBrun

Have you watched solo ringers and thought that you might like to give that a try? In this class we will explore the basics of solo ringing: equipment and skills needed, how to get started, and tips on playing off the table and 4-in-hand. No previous solo ringing experience is necessary, but ringers should already be able to weave and ring 4-in-hand.


202  Traveling four-in-hand (4iH)                            2.6, 2.8                Linda Krantz

The perfect melding of weaving and 4iH, this class will teach you the ins and outs of Nancy Hascall’s famed traveling four-in-hand style of solo ringing. Be prepared to up your game!!! Required prerequisite – a working knowledge of weaving and the ring/knock (push) method of 4iH.


203  Blocking (The Art of Choreography)              3.2, 3.7                Linda Krantz

This is it; you’re ready to take your solo ringing to the next level! This class will focus on tried and true methods of blocking an un-choreographed piece that will allow fluent and musical solo ringing, based on Nancy Hascall’s famed traveling 4iH techniques. Note that we will have a separate class on practical applications of these strategies, so it is strongly encouraged you sign up for the Hands On Practical Applications of T4H and Blocking along with this class. Required prerequisite — a working (passing) knowledge of traveling 4iH.


204  Hands On Practical Applications of T4iH and Blocking           3.10       Linda Krantz

So, you’ve learned a bit about T4H and Blocking (The Art of Choreography), let’s take some time to see how it works in practical situations. We will take passages that you have had difficulty figuring out how to play, and work through them together, using the T4H and Blocking strategies learned in those two classes. While we won’t have time to choreograph entire pieces, people registered for this class will be asked to send the sections you are having difficulty with to  Linda ahead of the conference, and she will choose several to work through with the class. Required prerequisite — a working (passing) knowledge of traveling 4iH and Blocking (The Art of Choreography)


205  Solo Artistry                                                          2.7, 3.6                Karen James       

What is Artistry? Creative skill or ability in performing which you can learn by study and practice and observation. If you have already learned the basics of Solo Ringing, and perhaps have played one or two, but would like to enhance the beauty and sound of your ringing, this class is for you! No more ‘just in time getting to that bell’ and making your audience nervous. Tried and True Techniques will be explained, presented, and practiced so that you can create a beautiful performance!


206  Solo Coaching                        3.6   Debra LeBrun         3.10  Karen James        4.3  Linda Krantz

Come with a prepared solo and we’ll fine-tune it! This one-on-one coaching is geared to making you look and sound better. Please select a piece and let the instructor know a month in advance of this class what song you chose! (There will be up to three participants in each class)


210 Introduction to Ensemble Ringing                2.2, 3.2, 3.8 Jane Nolan and Andy Wallace

We will look at skills and techniques that are necessary for small ensembles (focus on trios and quartets), including repertoire selection, bell assignments, and non-verbal communication. The class will be divided into ensembles, putting techniques into practice as we work on a piece of music. No ensemble experience is needed, but participants do need to read music and should have some knowledge of weaving.


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301T  (3 Sessions) Bronze Festival Choir        2.6, 3.6, 3.10    Nick Hanson   

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.


302T  (3 Sessions) Coppers Plus Festival Choir    2.7, 3.2, 3.7        Marilyn Becker

Want to stretch just a little outside your usual Coppers comfort zone?  This Coppers Plus Festival Choir Track is a three-session track opportunity for experienced ringers who can’t get enough ringing!  The class will rehearse and perform a challenging level 4, five octave 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.

303T  (3 Sessions) Coppers Festival Choir    2.2, 2.8, 3.8    Aidan Fozard

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.  (Experienced ringers who are registered with a Tins choir can sign up for this track)  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.

304  Bell Berserkers        2.8 Kim Visbaras   3.6  Pete Larson  3.8 Larry Berdensey  4.3  Andy Wallace

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 energy you can muster. Engineered for animated ringers. 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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Ed Henderson and Dan Moore
What the new or less experienced handbell director needs to begin this journey.

The sequence of classes addresses many of the unseen and less discussed issues related to effective handbell leadership. Registrants are encouraged to enroll in as many sessions as possible. Registrants are also urged to take classes in conducting (501), music theory(503), the history of the instrument(703), and a maintenance class(901,902).

401 Directing vs. Conducting:                                                  2.2

What are the components of effective handbell leadership? This class will present an overview of necessary skills and applications and consider the role of the director as teacher.


402 Rehearsal Techniques and Critical Listening               2.4

Critical listening is a necessary skill for both ringer and director. How is critical listening related to rehearsal planning and how do both skills improve your musical leadership? Good rehearsal techniques provide a safe learning environment for your ringers.


403 Selecting Appropriate Repertoire                                  2.6

This class will consider the importance of choosing repertoire that is appropriate for the ringers in the group. How do those decisions impact success, while still challenging the ringers, keeping in mind short and long term goals for development? This workshop will also cover how to prepare a handbell score for rehearsal and performance, sort out ringing assignments, and how to mark music.


404 Teaching Safe Ringing Techniques                                 3.2

The ability to teach safe ringing techniques is at the heart of handbell leadership. This session will focus on musicality and physical safety issues for both the ringer and the instrument.


405 Recruitment and Ensemble/Choir Management       3.6

How does a director identify and support new ringers and bring them successfully into the ensemble? This discussion will include how to assess a potential ringer’s musicianship, coordination, and learning style and ideas for team building to foster mutual respect.


406 Tools of the Trade – Equipping the Ensemble             3.10


What do you need and how do you care for and organize all that equipment? Do bells and chimes ever need to be cleaned, adjusted, and/or replaced? What kinds of tables do I need and how many? How thick should the foam pads be? What style mallet do I need to look for? What should we use for table covers/drapes? Do we need to buy individual lights and risers? How do I organize my instrument and music storage, and my rehearsal space?


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501T  (2 Sessions)  Beginning Conducting             2.7, 3.7                Joy Toll-Chandler

Called on to move from being a ringer to a conductor? Not quite ready for your Certification Conducting class? This Introduction to Conducting class will help you learn about beat patterns, entrances and cut-offs, dynamics, score preparation – and, of course, how to use that baton! (we will use the hand/arm positions taught at the certification classes)


502T  (3 Sessions) Advanced Conducting              2.2, 3.2, 3.6        Karen 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), gloves for ringing, and a smile! 😉


503  Introduction to Music Theory                         2.8, 3.7                Jane Nolan

Other than playing the notes on the page, what do you know about the music in front of you? Have you ever considered how much more musical your experience could be if you understood a little more about music in general? Give me an hour and I promise you a “painless” increased understanding of music theory as it pertains to your ringing experience. Please bring your binder of Festival music and gloves.


504 Complex Rhythm and Time                               2.6, 2.7                Lauren Larson

This class is a deep dive into some more complicated rhythms and time signatures. We’ll step away from the bells and focus on the beat with claps and taps. Examples include two on three rhythm, 7/8 time, and doing different things with different hands. The class will include excerpts from the festival music.


505 Rhythm in a Flash                                                 2.2, 2.6                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.


506  Dynamic Ringing: Praiseworthy Performance through Musical Awareness   3.6, 3.7   Krishna Ersson

What makes a performance memorable? How does one effectively and convincingly bring what’s on the page to life? This hands-on class explores how to use musical awareness to elevate performance using a series of skill-building ringing exercises. Participants will gain practical understanding of topics such as limb independence, phrasing, dynamic control, and score study.


507 Percussion Performance                                    2.7, 2.8                Krishna Ersson

Handbell music often includes optional or required percussion parts. In addition to simply learning the proper techniques for playing auxiliary percussion instruments, ringers and directors should be aware of the role that percussion plays in handbell music. This class will give participants a brief overview of techniques for playing many of the commonly used auxiliary percussion instruments seen in handbell literature today, including tambourine, triangle, finger cymbals, claves, and bar chimes. Additionally, this class presents techniques for improving the musicality of the percussionist, highlighting how general musical techniques such as proper balance, bringing out musical lines, and attention to tempo can be applied to percussion.


508  The One-Person Handbell Ensemble             3.2, 3.6                Sue Chamberlin

In this class we will create a video recording of a 12-bell handbell composition using the Acapella app and an iPad.  This relatively low-tech method can be used by a single person playing all the parts in any handbell composition, or can be used by a larger group, sharing their individual parts to create the whole.


509 Take Me Out to the Bell Game!                       2.7, 3.10              Lisa Arnold

Let’s have some fun  while testing your ability to hear and replicate notes, chords, rhythms, and even phrases from a song. Using the rules of baseball, we’ll pick teams, and when you are up “at bat” you will choose the difficulty level from 1st base to home run. A player from the opposing team will play something, and if you can replicate it accurately, you’ll get on base and maybe even score a run for your team.

This is a game for all levels.


510  How do I legally arrange THAT song?            3.8, 4.3                Nick Hanson

Have you ever wondered how to adapt a song from the radio to handbells? What about getting it published?? WHAT ABOUT COPYRIGHTS???  This class will explore ideas for arranging music, talk about the necessary steps for finding and receiving permissions, and finally discuss the process for submitting the arrangement to a publisher (including self-publishing). No ringing will occur in this class, but please bring questions (or arrangement ideas!).


511  Marking Your Music                                          3.2, 3.6                Holly Cerullo

Have you ever forgotten to pick up a bell in time for a bell change?  Have you ever put a marking on your music that didn’t make sense to you at the next rehearsal?  Then this class is for you!  We’ll explore ways to make markings in your music that are consistent and concise so that you can easily remember from rehearsal to rehearsal what you are meant to do.  Then you can go beyond the notes and make music.

512  No Pain – No Gain                                               3.10                      Brian Childers

25 coordination exercises to hurt your brain and improve your ringing. This hands-on class will challenge your coordination skills and sanity!


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601  Christmas in June   All Levels                                          2.2         Kim Whitehead

Christmas music in all its variety: new compositions and old favorites, traditional carols and popular tunes, small ensembles and full choirs.  Something for everyone.


602  Rep Reading from the Stage and Screen      Levels 2-4 (3-5 octaves)                2.6    Karen Leonard

Come channel your inner Broadway and movie stardom, and read through several pieces from the worlds of movie and theater, past and present. We’ll cover level 2-4 music, with options for 3-5 octaves. And if you can’t resist some singing with your ringing, that’s OK, too!!


603    Pop and Rock for Handbells   All levels (3-5 oct)    2.7         Nick Hanson

This session will include some of the pieces that Nick has arranged for handbells as well as some from other arrangers.


604  Processionals                                                                       2.8         Harriet Forman

Come and ring through some processionals for your bell choir to use! From simple to more complex, we’ll discover some ways in which to use processionals in worship, concert, and other settings. Ways to practice them, memorize them, and walk to them will be covered. We’ll have fun!!


605 Fascinating Rhythms                                                          3.2         Sue Lee

Get ready for some toe-tappers as we explore some rhythmically exciting arrangements and originals for our favorite instrument!


606  New Compositions  All Levels  (3 – 5 oct)                    3.6         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.


607  Level 4 Selections (3-5 octaves)                                     3.7                        Debra LeBrun

Are you ready for a challenge? We will be sight-reading a variety of level 4 music. There will be a mixture of sacred and secular pieces. Get some repertoire ideas for your choir next year or just have fun reading through some exciting pieces! Bring a folder to class to support the music


608  Ringing Across Cultures  Level 1-3 (2 – 5 oct)             3.8         Harriet Foreman             

Highlighting the music of different countries and cultures, and music of social impact, this session will include a variety of Level 1-3  (2-3 octave / 3-5 octave) pieces Expand the global diversity of your concert or worship experience by adding some of these titles to your repertoire.


609  Hymn Tunes for Handbells  All Levels  (3-5 oct)        3.10       Andrew Wallace

This session will present musical and historical perspective for hymn tune arrangements.  The session may also address the harmonic/melodic structure  of the hymns and how they are incorporated into the arrangement.


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Join your fellow ringers with a desire to both share your experience and to learn from the experience of others!

702 Improvising new ways to use bells in worship           2.9  Friday Dinner            Kim Whitehead

We have all needed to improvise over the past two years as COVID has changed the ways that we worship.  Come join in the discussion, share what you have learned, and pick up new ideas that you might try.


703   Handbell History/Lore                                      3.7, 4.3                Susan Schultz

Why is Area 1 called “Area 1”? Because it all began right here in New England! As a participant in this Festival/Conference, you are a part of handbell history. Learn about the first festivals, the New England Guild, the evolution to AGEHR and Handbell Musicians of America, and the vision of the handbell pioneers who got us to this place in our history. There’s a fascinating tale behind each picture in the Area 1 archives.


704  Round Table for Community Groups             3.2                        Stephanie Rhoades

Ringers and directors are invited to share ideas, ask questions, and encourage one another, as we discuss anything from concert programming to equipment management. As long as it relates to community ensembles we can discuss it!


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801T (3 Sessions)  African Drumming Track (Performance)           2.7, 3.2, 3.7        Kim Visbaras

This energetic 3 track session will have you movin’ and groovin’ to the multi-layers of a West African celebratory rhythm, which will involve djembes, congas, tubanos, and a host of accompanying percussion instruments (including a few new ones!).  After the third class, you will be asked to perform in the final Saturday mini-concert, which is always a blast!  No need for gloves or music, but bring your own drum if you own one or can borrow one.   There will be a limited number of drums available for this track.  Let’s Rock!!!!


802  Maori Stick Game                                               2.2, 3.8                       Karen James

Game Time! Shake off all those bells and let’s have fun rhythmically tapping and tossing sticks to each other, which will strengthen your wrists and help develop better eye hand coordination. The ability to sit on the floor is crucial for this class. Feel free to bring a pillow, small blanket, or a sweatshirt to sit on, to make yourself more comfortable!


804  Cup Games                                                            2.7, 3.2, 4.3                       Cathy Seiler and Jennifer Stack

Interested in learning a new musical party trick? A fun skill to impress your friends, kids or grandkids? Or maybe you’re just obsessed with Pitch Perfect and Anna Kendrick’s fancy use of rhythmic cups in “When I’m Gone.” Whatever the reason, join us in a class to learn how to tap, pass, pickup and table cups to create (and practice!) rhythms! As an added bonus, this class will help you grow more confident in your rhythm reading ability while looking pretty cool at the same time.

806   Barbershop-style a cappella Singing            2.8, 3.7                Bill Degan 

Open to women and men, this workshop will involve singing!  We will start by learning some “tags.” or the fun endings of songs.  Then, we can try whole songs.  Many hymns have been arranged, so next we’ll try one of these which you may find useful at church!  If the group would like to try a barbershop classic tune, we’ll have that option, too, depending on time.


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901   Malmark Maintenance                                     3.7, 3.8                Dan Moore

You’ll be surprised by how easy it is (five easy steps) to take excellent care of your Malmark handbells! From simple adjustments to more complex parts replacement, Malmark instruments are very ‘user friendly’. Bring tools (if you have them) and a problem bell or Choirchime® with you to class.

902   Schulmerich Maintenance                               3.7, 3.8                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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