Hello Area 6 handbell musicians,
I 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:
- Music notation for malleted parts
- The execution of proper mallet technique and how to teach that technique
- How to move from normal ringing and damping to using mallets
- How to use the techniques in handbell music
- Musical issues while using mallets
- 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
Saturday, February 25, 2017, 13 choirs and over 125 ringers gathered at the First United Methodist Church in Benton, AR, for State Festival. After many requests from attendees in past years, Tammy Waldrop returned to be our clinician. The ringers and Tammy worked hard through four hours of rehearsals, and then presented the traditional program at 3 p.m. The ringers loved Tammy, and all said they learned a lot from her. The board wishes to thank her and Dr. Ron Hall of the church for making it a very successful festival.
The Arkansas chapter of the Handbell Musicians of America hosted their first Xtreme Ring! today at the Second Presbyterian Church in Little Rock. This event for grades 3 through 8 replaced our Handbell Olympics, and included classes on Orff instruments and percussion. At the end of the day, the ringers played four pieces which they learned in the rehearsals (no music was prepared in advance), drums and Orff class performed, and a 6-member advanced group played a piece accompanied by the piano. Mary Ibis, associate director for music at Second Presbyterian, was our clinician. She has a fabulous gift for working with children, and very effective methods for getting first-time ringers to actually make music. We look forward to working with her again.