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Summit 2018 features classes for handbell musicians of all skill levels and ages. On this page, you can learn more about each class or class track. You can also learn about exciting educational opportunities from our exhibitors. Click the links below to jump to the desired section.

Classes | Tracks | Exhibitor Education | Escape Rooms

Classes at Summit 2018 cover all aspects of handbell musicianship:

Techniques for treble to bass, solo ringing, beginning to advance conducting, handbells in worship and education, musicality, percussion and rhythm, managing and building a handbell program, and so much more.

● 4 On The Floor: Getting Started with Handbell Quartets & Ensembles – Add a new dimension to your handbell program with quartets and small ensembles! This class will cover techniques for ensemble ringing, music selections for different types and levels of ensembles, and hands-on ringing in a small ensemble setting. Taught by Mark Arnold.

● Advanced 4-in-Hand – You’ll learn some additional methods of four-in-hand (there are at least 7!) with a focus on chromatic damping and how to execute techniques with multiple bells in hand. We’ll also discuss notations and strategies to use, and we’ll explore some artistic choices you can make as an advanced treble ringer. This class assumes you are familiar with shelley ringing and have at least basic proficiency of ring-push 4-in-hand. Taught by Josh Fitzgerald.

● After the Prelude: The Creative Use of Bells in Worship – This class is offered for everyone. From opening fanfares to hymns to scripture helpers, you’ll go home with a single copy of more than twenty (20!) examples of how we can play a more significant role in worship leadership. Taught by William Mathis.

● All Strung Up – Ever feel a little “strung out” when trying to ring a solo or a small ensemble? Do you lack ringers to play? Is there not enough space to set up your tables? This class will dive into the joy of the handbell tree. No matter your skill level you can be successful with a handbell tree ensemble. Bring your own mallets and come join us to string them up with an interesting take on the handbell tree. Taught by Kim Braswell.

● Audience Expansion Through Collaborations with Cultural Organizations – This class will explore how handbell musicians and cultural organizations can collaborate for the good of their organizations while expanding their audiences. Whether a handbell performance, looking at handbells as art or using handbells for educational programs, participants will leave this class inspired to collaborate with cultural organizations in their community and state. Taught by Brenda Granger.

● The Basics of Conducting – For those who are already directing and wanting to build skills or those who are wanting to investigate the alchemy that is musical leadership, be prepared to stand up and try something new! There really is a way to get un-shy about being the one everybody else looks too. Taught by William Mathis.

● Beginning 4-in-Hand – This class will focus primarily on techniques for C6 and up. It will introduce the basics of shelley ringing and ring-push four-in-hand. Special consideration will be given on how to ring chromatically and cleanly. We’ll also explore how to discern when to use these techniques, and other tricks regarding doubling and ledger lines. This class assumes you have minimal experience holding multiple bells in hand. Taught by Josh Fitzgerald.

● Changing Time: Conducting In & Out of Different Meters & Tempos – In many bell pieces, we have to not only be ready to start and end the piece together, but we also have to be ready and out front of tempo and time signature changes. These can be extremely challenging! In this class, we will learn how to prepare your bell choir, using gesture, to change tempos and meters easily. Taught by Joel Plaag.

● Creative Performance Ideas for Handbells and Chimes – The musical score is just a starting place. The printed score can be further enhanced by the director thinking outside the box to interpret and perform the music. Creative performance ideas can add interest for the ringers and highlight even more possibilities for those hearing the handbells. It might even help solve occasional ringing problems that will be encountered. Taught by Lee Hinson.

● Director as Diagnostician – Diagnosis: Technique Malfunction! Basic premise: Most, if not virtually all, musicality problems in handbells are rooted in technique problems. To achieve musicality with handbells; the director needs the skills to: A. Diagnose the technique malfunction (why doesn’t it sound right) and B. Prescribe/describe the solution (fix) to the ringers immediately. MUSICALITY is the goal – not technique simply for technique’s sake. Taught by Ben Harris.

● Extending Your Reach – Creating a Culture of Handbells in Your Church – Your handbell choir is an important part of your church’s music ministry, so what’s the next step? This class will explore ways to extend the reach of your handbell ministry as a part of the overall culture of your church, based on your goals and the nature of your current program. Bring your ideas to share! Taught by Mark Arnold.

● Finding the Music on the Page: Score Study 101 – If both director and ringers can get an overview of how a piece of music is constructed, then get a bit into the details of the composer’s intentions, it makes it easier to learn and to express. Specific techniques for analyzing the music and planning the rehearsal will be offered to ringers and directors alike. Bring your massed ringing folder with you to the class. Taught by William Mathis.

● Handchimes: More Than a Cheap Substitute for Handbells – Handchimes are often the forgotten instrument when it comes to care, handling and technique but this class will make you a handchime expert! Come learn about the design, qualities, technique and repertoire requirements of handchimes and low bass chimes. Find out why chimes can crack and how to avoid it. Experience the best way to double bass chimes and how to approach them in your music. Taught by Karen Eastburn.

● How To Use Handchimes with 3rd Grade through Middle School – Learn the basics of holding, ringing and making music with 2 – 3 octaves of handchimes. Learn how to use with easy songs, while singing, for the younger students AND how to establish a performing group of young handchimers who need not have a background in music. Taught by Debbie Rawlins.

● No More Cups and Sticks! – Hungry for some fresh ways to introduce and teach musical skills in your handbell program? Love the cup game and Maori sticks, but need something more? Come join in the fun and learn new activities which will help you increase rhythmic proficiency, improve music reading skills, and foster group fellowship no matter the age of your choirs. For ringers who just like to have fun, and directors who need a new trick. Participation IS required! Taught by Josh Fitzgerald.

● Now that You Have the Notes, Let’s Make Music! – Right note, right beat DOES NOT = MUSICALITY! Music is like any other foreign language — full of nuances and inflections; and none of it is on the written page. Tips (and maybe a few tricks) to know your music and impress the director. You can do more than you think! Musicality involves seeing/reading the whole page (not just your notes); seeing, listening, and becoming emotionally involved with the music. Know your part – and what you are a part of! Taught by Ben Harris.

● Ringing from the Middle: Battery Bell Techniques (G4 to B5) – Explore many of the Handbell Techniques that will enable the ringer to play challenging passages skillfully and musically. Taught by Carol Lynn Mizell.

● Shaping the Handbell Phrase: Achieving Musicality – What can a handbell choir do beyond ringing the right notes at the right time to present a more musical performance? Taught by Carol Lynn Mizell.

● Six-In-Hand Methods (For Treble Bell Hogs!) – When four is just not enough, why not try six? This is the class designed for treble bell hogs who can’t get enough, or the growing solo/ensemble ringers needing to cover more notes competently. This class will explore holding at least four methods of 6-in-hand, and focus on building proficiency in clean ringing and damping of those notes. This class presumes you have at least intermediate knowledge and ability in various 4-in-hand methods. Taught by Josh Fitzgerald.

● Successful Sight-Reading – It’s been said the best way to get better at sight reading is simply to do it. While there is merit to repeating and practicing a skill to improve ability, there are more concrete tools to increase your level of success. Some focuses will include building a rhythmic vocabulary, expedited note identification, forward tracking, and music theory deduction. We’ll work through activities and drills you can use in rehearsals or at home that will push you beyond your current reading ability. Taught by Josh Fitzgerald.

● Total Recall – No matter if you’re trying to learn a page turn or an entire piece, we’ll stretch your memory and learn how to improve it step by step. Not just through repetition, we will get into the heart of the matter by dissecting the problem and breaking it down to help you succeed at every level. Taught by Kim Braswell.

The following options involve cumulative learning over multiple class sessions. Participants should plan to attend all sessions included in the track. You are not required to take a track, and you are not required to attend all sessions of a track except for the All-Star Ensemble.

● All-Star Ensemble – Are you looking for a ringing challenge while you are at Summit 2018? This is the class for you! Auditions for the All-Star Ensemble will be from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm on Friday, June 8, 2018. Those selected to be part of the All-Star Ensemble will be expected to have or obtain the additional repertoire and to attend all Ensemble rehearsals. The additional repertoire will be available for on-site purchase in the Exhibitor Hall. The All-Star Ensemble will perform in the closing concert on Sunday, June 10, 2018. Additional details and requirements available on the application.

● Child’s Play 1: Handbell Petting Zoo – In Handbell Petting Zoo, you will learn how to structure sessions that move as fast as the children! Pre-reading experiences to familiarize the children with the handchime instrument, the joy of playing in a group and the concept of the steady beat. This is part of an optional three-part class series. Taught by Venita MacGorman.

● Child’s Play 2: Cracking the Code – Games and exercises for experiencing rhythms and then reading rhythm notation, for finding notes on the staff and then finding each ringer’s own notes and for playing as an ensemble. This is part of an optional three-part class series. Taught by Venita MacGorman.

● Child’s Play 3: All the Children Play – Children with behavior and sensory issues and those on the Autism spectrum can benefit from participation in a handchime choir! This session is a dialogue presentation between a music educator and a pediatric occupational therapist who offer strategies for rehearsal modification and behavior management. There will be time for questions and discussion. This is part of an optional three-part class series. Taught by Venita MacGorman.

Exhibitor Education
Our exhibitor education represents handbell manufacturers, retailers, publishers, performing groups and other individuals and companies that support handbell musicians.

● The Cajon: Why You Should Get Into, Otta and Onto the Box – Have you ever wandered what a cajon is or how to pronounce it? Come get hands on experience with this amazing instruemtn all while you learn how it is the one perfect piece of percussion for you handbell choir! Taught by Karen Eastburn.

● Malmark Maintenance Class – This class is geared to anyone who would like to know more about the Malmark instruments you play or use in class, performance or in ministry. The focus is on learning the parts, their function, their care and how to maintain the entire handbell and Choirchime. We will take a “tour” by disassembling and reassembling a handbell while discussing specifics about each part as we handle it. Learning tips to properly care for and use your instruments, when to call us and when to send your bell to Malmark and more. Feel free to bring problem bells with you for trouble-shooting. Taught by Karen Eastburn.

● Reading Session: Just for Fun! – How many pieces have you programmed with your handbell choir that you have put in “just for fun?” These are the pieces that are a little bit “different” – maybe even a little quirky – and are certain to grab the attention of an audience. These are the pieces that ringers live for – that they will repeat once a year if allowed. Conducted by Venita MacGorman.

● Reading Session: The Other Holidays – We all love an exciting Christmas piece and the passionate Easter melody. But…what about Lent, Advent, patriotic holidays, and Halloween? Come ring music for the other holidays on the calendar. After all, handbells are for more than just Christmas and Easter. Conducted by Linda Rutherford.

● Reading Session: Potpourri – Are you in search of that hidden gem that keeps eluding you? This reading session will encompass a wide variety of bell music (Levels 1+ to 4-) for those adventurous and eclectic ringers. Conducted by Andrew Dugan.

● Reading Session: Young at Heart – Music presented in this session will be appropriate for young and less experienced ringers, but will provide musical interest and challenge for more advanced groups. Selections include several pieces arranged by Mark Arnold for his own student groups, and span the range from easier level 2 music to more challenging selections for older students and adult groups. Expect mallets and other techniques! Conducted by Mark Arnold.

● Schulmerich Maintenance Class – This class is for all ages and levels. Come and find out how to maintain and make minor repairs on your Schulmerich bells. Bring your troubled bells and we will discuss common issues. Taught by Thomas Smith.

Escape Rooms
Okay. So the escape rooms are not really a class, but they sure are fun! Learn about the two (2!) different rooms we designed for our game night on Saturday. You can register for one or both of these rooms as part of your registration. Remember to pick the time slot you want as spaces are limited! Hint: The escape room registration options are on the second page of the registration system.

● Secret Agent – You’ve been hired by a secret branch of the US government because an eccentric billionaire stole the last set of handbells in the world. You’ve snuck into his lair to retrieve them so you could take them to the Smithsonian for safekeeping. However, you tripped his alarm system on the way in. The only way out is now locked. His guards will be here in exactly one hour.

● Historic Hijinks – Your handbell ensemble is going to perform in a historic theater. You’ve stumbled upon the underground vault of the prop and costume mistresses. Suddenly, you hear the lead door of the vault close behind you. You know there has to be a way out of the room, but all you see is a sign that says: “Solve the riddles to find the key to set you free. But beware of Russian herring.” You try your cell phone…but there is no service. Screaming isn’t working. You have to be on stage in one hour. Will you escape or risk the wrath of your director?!

Area 9 reserves the right to cancel any portion or all portions of Summit 2018
if the number of registrations is deemed insufficient.

Summit 2018 Sponsors

Phillips 66
Dinner/Lunch Sponsor

Wilson Van Tine
Dinner/Lunch Sponsor

The Springer Company
Visionary Sponsor

Houston Bronze Ensemble
Director Sponsor

Malmark Bellcraftsmen
Musician Sponsor

Schulmerich Bells
Musician Sponsor

Austin Handbell Ensemble
Wi-Fi Sponsor

Heitz Handbells and Music
Wi-Fi Sponsor

Use of Tablets to Hold Music

Handbell Musicians of America is committed to upholding the copyright laws of the United States and protecting the rights of our publishers, arrangers, and composers. If you wish to use a tablet computer to hold your music in place of standard paper copies on a music stand, you must contact the publisher of each piece of music to first obtain permission to convert a purchased piece of music to the format required for the tablet you are using. Copies of the written permission received from publishers must be presented on request from the event organizer, event chair, or Handbell Musicians of America staff. Permission from a publisher for one piece does not imply permission for other songs from the same publisher. The title of each song used in this format must be included in the written permission received. Attendee should also have legally purchased copies of all music with them for verification.