Arranging and Composing

Why is this part of the curriculum? The process of arranging/composing brings the elements of melody, harmony, form, texture, and rhythm together to create music that engages the performer and listener.   Whether you are a ringer or a director, learning about and practicing that process enhances your ability to interpret and bring music to life.

What will I learn? (click on the course titles at the right for detailed information on that course, including suggested pre-work)

Arranging and Composing 1 – Introduction to the Elements Learn to use the full range of bells by creating a simple processional, craft a melody that catches the listener’s emotions and attention, harmonize that melody, and assemble the beginnings of a simple arrangement.

Prerequisite: Music Theory 2 or consent of Instructor

Arranging and Composing 2  – Bringing the Elements Together in an Arrangement Write a complete arrangement that will effectively use techniques, plus gain a deeper appreciation for the art of arranging and composing.

Prerequisite: Arranging and Composing 2 and Music Theory 3 or consent of Instructor.  Note – if you have not completed Arranging and Composing 1, completion of Arranging and Composing 2 does not grant you credit for passing Arranging and Composing 1. 

Testing Out: Contact John Behnke to arrange independent study.

Faculty (All Levels)

John Behnke
Sondra Tucker

Arranging and Composing 1 – Introduction to the Elements Learn to use the full range of bells by creating a simple processional, craft a melody that catches the listener’s emotions and attention, harmonize that melody, and assemble the beginnings of a simple arrangement.

Prerequisite: Music Theory 2 or consent of Instructor

In order to successfully pass this course as part of the Certification curriculum, students must be able to:

  • Pass a range of bells test
  • Write an 8 measure melody
  • Write a good descant
  • Pass a chord identification test
  • Write a bass line
  • Write a harmonization
  • Write a processional
  • Pass handbell techniques test
  • Add optional 4th and 5th octave notes
  • Complete ringer perspective identification – could be oral or written
  • Write a 3 octave arrangement

Each exercise will be written out and evaluated pass or fail by the instructor, and all eleven exercises must be successfully passed to complete Arranging and Composing 1.

Required Text and Other Materials (purchase before coming to class)

  • Handbell and Handchimes Notation Guide, AGEHR Music, R101, 2010
  • Staff paper or computer software music notation program like Finale or Sibelius

How Long is this Class?

This class is typically taught in three 75-minute class periods.  You might need to complete and submit some of the exercises after the class periods.

What Should I Bring to Class?

  • Staff paper/pencils/eraser or computer software music notation program like Finale or Sibelius
  • Headphones if you’re using a computer

Arranging and Composing 2 – Bringing the Elements Together in an Arrangement Write a complete arrangement that will effectively use techniques, plus gain a deeper appreciation for the art of arranging and composing.

Prerequisite: Arranging and Composing 1 and Music Theory 3 or consent of Instructor.  Note – if you have not completed Arranging and Composing 1, completion of Arranging and Composing 2 does not grant you credit for passing Arranging and Composing 1. 

In order to successfully pass this course as part of the certification curriculum, students must:

  • Write a harmonic excerpt that demonstrates good harmonic progression and use of a secondary dominant chord
  • Write an excerpt which demonstrates melodic and rhythmic variation
  • Complete form analysis of a composition
  • Write an introduction, a variation, and an ending for a given well-known song or hymn
  • Create a two to three octave arrangement from an existing five octave arrangement
  • Create a five to seven octave arrangement from an existing three octave arrangement, making appropriate optional notes
  • Given a piano or keyboard and a set amount of time; write an introduction (2-4 measures), a variation (12-16 measures), and an ending (2-4 measures) to a song or hymn for 2-3 octaves at a minimum of level 3
  • Given a piano or keyboard and a set amount of time; compose the A section of a free work (at least 16 to 24 measures) for 5 or more octaves of handbells at a minimum of level 3

Each exercise will be written out and evaluated pass or fail by the instructor, and all eight exercises must be successfully passed to complete Arranging and Composing 2.

Required Text and Other Materials (purchase before coming to class)

  • Handbell and Handchimes Notation Guide, AGEHR Music, R101, 2010
  • Staff paper or computer software music notation program like Finale or Sibelius

How Long is this Class?

This class is typically taught in three 75-minute class periods.  You might need to complete and submit some of the exercises after the class periods.

What Should I Bring to Class?

  • Staff paper/pencils/eraser or computer software music notation program like Finale or Sibelius
  • Headphones if you’re using a computer