Marci CoreyThis article written by Marci Corey, Area 9 Treasurer

Each semester when I pick music for the various handbell groups I direct I spend some time studying the scores before presenting the music at a rehearsal. Score study is, in my opinion, a necessity for directors, but I think it’s also a necessity for ringers!

As a ringer, you probably don’t have the luxury of seeing the music before it is presented at a rehearsal, but there are still many things you can do after the fact. Here are some of the basics to help you get started if score study is new to you!

1. Look for dedications and notes from the composer. These can provide valuable insight on the mood and feel of the piece and also for technique clarification.
2. Check the bells and chimes used chart at the beginning of the piece. Make sure you have everything out and at your fingertips before the director begins the piece!
3. Check the key and time signature at the beginning of the piece and then look for places in the music where either of those change.
4. Look for tempo markings and “mood” descriptors at the beginning and throughout the piece.
5. Do you need any extra “stuff”? If the piece calls for mallets or dowel rods for singing bell, etc. make sure you note that at the BEGINNING of the piece. Since you’ll be checking the bells used chart, consider adding notes about extra stuff there.
6. Check out each page turn. If you have a stand partner make a plan with him/her for each page turn in each piece. Mark it in your music and do it the same way EVERY TIME!

There is much more you could do as a ringer with score study, but if you’ve never done it before try the 6 suggestions above to get started. If your director doesn’t allow you to take the music home between rehearsals, ask if you can come in a little early or stay a little late. It will make you a better ringer and score you some points with your director!