Area 6 May Newsletter

Area 6 May Newsletter

Read the May Newsletter here!


Area 6 Festival – Classes with Greig Ashurst

Hello Area 6 handbell musicians,

ashurstI wanted to take this opportunity to write to you about three classes that I will be teaching this summer at our Bells, Blues, and BBQ event. I hope you will find the classes interesting and I hope they will change the way you make music with handbells forever.

The first class I will offer is A Fresh Approach to Understanding and to Performing with Rhythmic Integrity. This class will focus on a few important concepts with regard to rhythm. First, I will teach that rhythm is not a concrete concept, but rather is relational. This course will help musicians increase rhythmic understanding and awareness while performing. Portions of the class will include hands-on activities to help musicians move from clueless and careless performances to caring and convincing musical experiences through developing a sense of pulse, rhythmic flow, and forward momentum while using basic patterns over a pulse.

The second class I will be offering will teach musicians proper mallet technique on handbells. The learner will select appropriate mallets for the range and desired timbre. This class will discuss the following topics:

  1. Music notation for malleted parts
  2. The execution of proper mallet technique and how to teach that technique
  3. How to move from normal ringing and damping to using mallets
  4. How to use the techniques in handbell music
  5. Musical issues while using mallets
  6. Proper mallet selection

This class will discuss three main strokes when using mallets on handbells and how to create different timbres with each stroke. It will incorporate some helpful drills to help musicians roll properly. Finally, this class will teach musicians how to balance and blend the ensemble when using mallets.

The third course I will offer is a refresher course on using percussion instruments with handbells. Since a handbell is a percussion instrument, there are facets to making great music with other percussion instruments. This course will discuss the following:

  • Some basic philosophies on using percussion with handbells
  • The tools of the trade (picking quality instruments, selecting appropriate mallets and beaters for those instruments)
  • The handbell’s role as a percussion instrument
  • Basic performance techniques on numerous percussion instruments that are commonly found in handbell ensemble literature

Students in the course will get hands on experience with many different percussion instruments.

I hope you will come join us in Memphis!

 – Greig Ashurst

Come to Festival – here’s some reasons why…

Come to Festival – here’s some reasons why…

Wondering what you would get from attending an Area event? Well…

North Alabama boasts a pair of Lindas as directors that attended The Area 6 Festival in 2015:  Linda May of First United Methodist Florence, and Linda Guyton of First United Methodist Hartselle.  Here’s a sample of what the directors and their ringers had to say about the Area 6 Festival:

First UMC Hartselle

The square dancing was the most fun I have had and the most I have laughed in a while! 

” I liked the classes: percussion, ringing techniques……and reading through new music is always lots of fun.”

  “Because of our class Bells Without Tables we learned a lot about processionals. We bought the   books 12 Bells in F and came home and formed a new quartet. We also processed at Christmas.”

First UMC Florence

“The festival music was challenging and required proper techniques to execute. We loved it!”

“The dinner Friday was delicious and the entertainment was first rate!”

Take a look at some of the pictures from their time in 2015 – you can tell they had a great time!

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Spring Bells in Alabama

Submitted by Shane Kennedy, Alabama State Chair

This spring has provided numerous opportunities for handbell choirs and enthusiasts to participate in festivals and enjoy concerts. Here is a recap of our festival season and upcoming concerts to close out the school year.

Central Alabama and TVHA Festivals

The weekend of February 28-March 1, was especially busy for ringers with both the Central Alabama Adult/Youth Handbell Festival in Bessemer, just southwest of Birmingham AL (Clinician Tim Waugh) and the Tennessee Valley Handbell Association Festival in Huntsville in North Alabama (Clinician Shane Kennedy). Both events, as massed-ring festivals, run a similar schedule for the Friday-Saturday event, with choir setup and a directors’ workshop on Friday followed by a round of evening rehearsals with the clinician. Saturday begins with morning rehearsal sessions and some short breaks. The festival concludes in mid-afternoon with a public concert featuring all the participating choirs preforming together the festival repertoire along with one or more solo choir offerings.
TVHA concert

North Alabama Young Ringers Festival

On March 15 the annual North Alabama Young Ringers Festival was held in Huntsville at Good Shepherd Catholic Church. This event offers the unique opportunity for youth-age choirs to participate in a massed-ring setting. Led by clinician Dave VanderMeer of Atlanta GA, the ringers not only rehearsed the festival repertoire but also got several lessons in rhythm with Dave’s power point “chopsticks” rhythm exercises. After some well-earned ice cream sandwiches mid-afternoon, the festival ended with a public concert of all the choirs performing and a solo choir performance by the youth bells of First United Methodist Huntsville.
NAYR 2014

Spring Ring 2014

The Alabama Baptist Convention sponsored the annual Spring Ring in Montgomery at the Eastmont Baptist Church on Saturday April 5. The festival presented an opportunity for Southern Baptists from across Alabama to gather in a massed-ring setting for rehearsal and fellowship. The participants presented a concert of the festival repertoire in the afternoon to close out the festival.


Embellishments, Birmingham’s community handbell ensemble, presented a spring concert entitled: Ring Around the World, on Sunday April 27 at 3:00pm at Canterbury United Methodist Church in Birmingham AL. Led by director Phyllis Kirk, this concert featured handbell music representing widely diverse musical traditions from across the globe.