Handbell Techniques

Why is this part of the curriculum? In the years since bells came out of the tower, new information guides us to ringing postures and techniques which lessen the chance of injury and allow for many years of easy ringing.  Ringers utilize this information to express themselves through music, and directors utilize it to teach the ringers and to draw the most musical result from the instrument and musician.  Even if you’ve rung for years, you’ll find new information to improve your ringing.

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

Handbell Techniques 1 – The basics
Which muscles are used for ringing and what they do, the ergonomic way to ring handbells, damping the bell, handling heavier bells.

Prerequisite: None. 

Handbell Techniques 2  – The next step
Weaving 3, 4 or more bells; mallet grips; and how to recognize and safely execute the articulations in the Handbell/Handchime Notation Guide.

Prerequisite: Handbell Techniques 1

Handbell Techniques 3 – Multiple bell techniques
Four-in-hand, six-in-hand, eight-in-hand, as well as the standard notation for each. Prerequisite: Handbell Techniques 2

Faculty

Master Teacher (all levels)
Michele Sharik

Handbell Techniques 1 Faculty
Susan Chamberlin
Linda Krantz
Karen Van Wert

Testing Out:  Test out options for Handbell Techniques are under development.  Contact Michele Sharik to discuss possibilities

Handbell Techniques 1 – The basics examines basic handbell and handchime ringing and damping techniques, with an emphasis on ergonomic principles and sound production.

Prerequisite: None. 

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

  • Distinguish and identify major muscle groups of the hands, arms, legs, and back and explain how these muscle groups work together and separately to move the hands, arms, and legs, and to provide a means for balancing the body as it moves through space;
  • Describe handbell and handchime sound production and how it relates to handbell and handchime ringing and damping techniques;
  • Demonstrate stance, seat, and stroke;
  • Demonstrate shoulder and table damping;
  • Demonstrate the ring-hook technique;
  • Demonstrate bell/chime changes in one or both hands;
  • Demonstrate a bell/chime pass hand-to-hand and ringer-to-ringer; and
  • Describe modifications or adaptations of the above with regard to bass handbells and chimes.

Recommended Texts

  • Berry, Susan, Healthy Ringing: for Handbells and Handchimes, Handbell Services, 2000 and 2012 editions are both fine
  • Conable, Barbara, What Every Musician Needs to Know about the Body: the Practical Application of Body Mapping to Making Music, Andover, 2000
  • Parsons, Thomas, Bass Bell Techniques,From the Top, 2006
  • Sue, Larry, The Bass Ringer’s Notebook, Distributed by Above the Line Publishing, 2007
  • Handbell Techniques with Michèle Sharik (DVD), Above The Line Publishing, 2011

Testing Out

Test out options for Handbell Techniques are under development.  Contact Michele Sharik to discuss possibilities

How Long Is this Class?

This class is typically taught in two 75-minute class periods.  The classroom sessions are followed by a testing period in which each registrant has a 15-minute hands-on testing with the instructor.

What Should I Study Ahead of Time?

Learn about the major muscles groups of the body. Healthy Ringing (mentioned in recommended texts) is a good resource.    Here are some websites that can be useful:

www.learnbones.com shows the major muscle groups
www.innerbody.com has a good interface to “drill down” to the individual muscles

What Should I Bring to Class?

  • Handouts will be provided when you arrive
  • Pen/pencil for taking notes

Gloves are not required so the instructor can see the details of hand placement.

Handbell Techniques 2- The next step examines basic multiple-instrument handbell and handchime ringing and damping techniques (commonly known as “weaving”) as well as handbell and handchime articulation techniques. Special attention will be given to identifying current and historical notational conventions for the various handbell and handchime articulation techniques, as well as to principles of ergonomics and sound production.

Prerequisite: Handbell Techniques 1

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

  • Describe principles of ergonomics and sound production related to weaving;
  • Demonstrate how to ring and damp multiple bells in any sequence;
  • Describe and demonstrate each of the three primary mallet grips for holding one mallet in each hand (the French, German, and American grips) and the three primary mallet grips for holding two mallets in each hand (the Traditional, Burton, and Musser-Stevens grips), including the specific ergonomic concerns of each, plus the advantages and disadvantages of each in relation to handbell articulation techniques;
  • Describe and demonstrate the ergonomic execution of the following handbell articulation techniques: Mallets on the table, Suspended mallets, Mallet rolls (both suspended and on the table), Pluck, Tap-Pluck, Pluck-Lift, Thumb Damp, Hand Damp, Shake, Martellato, Mart-Lift, Hand Mart, Swing, Echo, Gyro, Shimmer or Vibrato, Ring-Touch, and Singing Bell, plus describe circumstances under which one articulation technique might be appropriately substituted for another;
  • Describe and demonstrate modifications or adaptations, if any, of the above for handchimes; and
  • Identify current and historical notational conventions for each of these techniques.

Testing Out

Test out options for Handbell Techniques are under development.  Contact Michele Sharik to discuss possibilities

Required Text (purchase before coming to class)

  • Handbell and Handchimes Notation Guide, AGEHR Music, AG015, 2016/2017

Recommended Texts

  • Berry, Susan, Healthy Ringing: for Handbells and Handchimes, Handbell Services, 2000 and 2012 editions are both fine
  • Stephenson, Valerie, Coordination Conundrums. Shawnee Press, 1999.
  • Handbell Techniques with Michèle Sharik (DVD), Above The Line Publishing, 2011

How Long Is this Class?

This class is typically taught in two 75-minute class periods.  The classroom sessions are followed by a testing period in which each registrant has a 20-minute hands-on testing with the instructor.

What Should I Study Ahead of Time?

Review Part A of Handbell/Handchime Notation – you should be familiar with the symbols for and descriptions of each technique listed in section VIII.  You might also want to review your materials on muscle groups from Handbell Techniques 1.

What Should I Bring to Class?

  • Handouts will be provided when you arrive
  • Pen/pencil for taking notes
  • Gloves are not required so the instructor can see the details of hand placement
  • Your notes from Handbell Techniques 1

Handbell Techniques 3 – Multiple bell techniques examines multiple-instrument in-hand handbell ringing and damping techniques (commonly known as “four-in-hand” and “six-in-hand”).  Special attention will be given to principles of ergonomics and sound production, identifying notational conventions for these techniques, and considerations for adapting these techniques for use with handchimes.

Prerequisite: Handbell Techniques 2

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

  • Demonstrate the ergonomic execution of each of the four-in-hand techniques for handbells (“Parallel Ring,” “Parallel Push (AKA ‘Shelley’)”, “Ring and Push,” “British/Japanese-style,” “Reverse Stacked Ring and Push,” “Interlocked Ring and Push,” and “Interlocked British/Japanese-style (AKA ‘Campanile’)”, including ringing together and separately, damping, articulations, and changes to the primary and secondary instruments;
  • Demonstrate the methods of four-in-hand appropriate for use with handchimes;
  • Identify notational conventions for four-in-hand techniques;
  • Demonstrate the ergonomic execution of each of the six-in-hand techniques for handbells (“The Claw (both parallel and perpendicular),” Japanese-style (AKA ‘Perpendicular’ or ‘XYZ’),” “Upside-down Tertiary (AKA ‘Rooke Ring’),” and “Interlocked”), including ringing together and separately, damping, articulations, and changes to the primary, secondary, and tertiary instruments;
  • Demonstrate methods of six-in-hand appropriate for use with handchimes;
  • Identify notational conventions for six-in-hand techniques; and
  • Identify principles of ergonomics related to eight-in-hand techniques such as “Interlocked” (AKA “Danny’s Eight”).

Required Text (purchase before coming to class)

  • Handbell and Handchimes Notation Guide, AGEHR Music, AG015, 2016/2017

Recommended Texts

  • Berry, Susan, Healthy Ringing: for Handbells and Handchimes, Handbell Services, 2000 and 2012 editions are both fine
  • Handbell Techniques with Michèle Sharik (DVD), Above The Line Publishing, 2011

How Long is this Class?

This class is typically taught in two 75-minute class periods.  The classroom sessions are followed by a testing period in which each registrant has a 20-minute hands-on testing with the instructor.

What Should I Study Ahead of Time?

Study Part C, section V of Handbell/Handchime Notation so that you are familiar with the notations for Four-in-Hand and Six-in-Hand.  If you have the Sharik DVD, review the section on Four-in-Hand.  Also review your materials on muscle groups.

What Should I Bring to Class?

  • Handouts will be provided when you arrive
  • Pen/pencil for taking notes
  • Gloves are not required so the instructor can see the details of hand placement
  • Your notes from Handbell Techniques 1 & 2