New handbell classes being formed - need help and advice

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Derek H

Aug 9, 2021, 4:16:41 PMAug 9
Hello, everyone;

The school where I currently serve as middle school resource teacher for exceptional learners is struggling in hiring specials teachers for this year. To assist with hiring needs and to help fill the void, I have offered to start and lead what will be our only music classes - three handbell ensembles.

Here's where the "issues" come about: we are a Title I school. Purchasing handbell tables, mallets, split-back folders, foam (all the goodies, in other words) is somewhat cost prohibitive for us. While I am going to contact Area V and see if we can't borrow chimes, and I will also contact Schulmerich to add on to my solo set, we still need some assistance if this will even work out.

For curriculum purposes, I will be using Kathleen Wissinger's curriculum (what a TREMENDOUS RESOURCE Kath - THANK YOU!). We're also looking at upwards to 60 students involved, if not more.

Are there good resources we can seek both inside and out of HMA that can help us obtain what we need here, perhaps at a lower cost? Is there any advice anyone has, particularly those who have worked with or in Title I schools?

Thanks for any help or advice you can provide. The response we've already received from both the students, other teachers, and parents here has been overwhelming.

All the best,
Derek Hakes
("...people are beautiful.  Not in looks.  Not in what they say.  Just in what they are." - from "I Am the Messenger" by Markus Zusak)

Greig Ashurst

Aug 9, 2021, 5:29:20 PMAug 9
to Handbell-l
Derek, please let me know what you need.  I am excited for you and your students.  I will be happy with mallets.  contact me when you have time.

Greig Ashurst

Arnold Rawls

Aug 9, 2021, 7:16:19 PMAug 9
Derek -- Arnold Rawls here.   Drop me a note at I may have some stuff that would be of use to you.


Arnold Rawls, D.M.A.,  Lyrico Spinto Tenor
Metropolitan Opera •  Dallas Opera  •. Bregenzer Festspiele
Opera Australia  •  Frankfurt Oper

Encompass Arts, New York, NY
Kathy Olsen, Manager

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Debbie Shaw

Aug 9, 2021, 7:40:46 PMAug 9

What a great opportunity!   May I suggest seeing if any churches in your area have handbells in a closet?  You never know, but some churches may loan bells or “rent” them for a small fee.  I would expect to offer insurance coverage against any loss.  But with many churches not ringing or bell choirs going dark you might find a set that would love to be used.  

Good Luck! 

Debbie Shaw
Long Beach CA

Sent from my iPad

On Aug 9, 2021, at 4:16 PM, Arnold Rawls <> wrote:

Aug 10, 2021, 10:20:39 AMAug 10
Derek, Best wishes on this venture. You will enrich many lives!!
Consider making up  complete Square One books from the ringer edition, one for every 1 or 2 ringers, instead of handing out loose sheets for each lesson.  This makes life so much easier. And no filing at the end of the year! ...Or, if you can project each page on a screen, even better - and cheaper.  I put the "Find Your Notes" on the front of every book and position # on the outside front, so kids can always check their position....and the notebook flip-up cards with ringing positions are also great to use. 
If you have up to 22 in a class (which sounds possible) - and you are short equipment - I'd make position partners (1A and 1 B at CD4) - they share the same pair of bells. Explain and rote practice everything once, but play through everything twice for ringers 1A and 1B to both experience the music.  Have the non-ringing person tap or pat the notes (L and R hands) to keep the learning going.)
Chord Stories (for your youngest ones) can accommodate up to 22 ringers - each plays 1 or 2 notes as part of a character in a narrated story. This is a good instant ringing experience.
I can send you some reproducible music. Need your address.
The Guild used to have an event scholarship grant (I got one for a Youth Festival, once) - which might give you a boost to get some equipment and materials. There's also a new Educator's fund, but I don't know much about it. Your local Arts Council may also have grants available - timing is crucial for applications. And perhaps a local ringing group would help sponsor a ringer or some equipment..or donate some old pads, etc. Almost everything I started out with at my school was donated or loaned, which saved me!!
Need anything more specific, let me know.
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