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

CHIME Loan Report and Thank-You!

Thanks to the generosity of Area 6 Handbell Musicians of America, Norwood Elementary School in Knoxville, Tennessee had the opportunity to be a family of musicians during the 2014-15 school year.

Our handchime choir was open to any student in third, fourth, or fifth grade. As a community school, we offer many varied opportunities for our students. These opportunities are offered after school during Boys and Girls Club. Norwood has a transient population. Students often move between several local schools during a school year. Knowing that this might impact the cohesiveness of the group, I offered handchimes during both semesters, each with a final concert. This allowed many more students the opportunity to learn, play, and perform. Our first semester ended with a taped show featuring holiday songs, shared during the morning announcements in December. The second concert, a live performance played while the audience was being seated before our graduation ceremony in May, was a high note of our hard work.

We had some low notes as well. In November, we lost one of our fifth grade students, a member of our Norwood family. Our handchime choir dedicated our final performance to the memory of our friend Steven.

Please accept my thanks and appreciation for the loan of the chimes. Through your generous gift, my students learned more than how to play, they learned the beauty of playing.

Dana Parker, Teacher
Norwood Elementary School
Knoxville, Tennessee

Norwood Elementary School Staff
Norwood Elementary School Staff

Read And Ring


Nearly fifty ringers and directors gathered in Memphis for the first annual Read and Ring event, led by members of the West Tennessee Handbell Association Board. The morning-long event was well-paced and enthusiastic, providing an opportunity to ring through the upcoming River City Ring festival selections and to purchase music. There was such a positive response to this event that it will become an annual offering. Costs are kept to a minimum to make it very affordable for individuals to attend.

The River City Ring is scheduled for Saturday, March 7, 2015 at Covenant United Methodist Church in Cordova (Memphis) TN. New this year: there will also be an optional Friday evening component with a reading session led by the clinician, Bob Bidewell, and classes led by the West Tennessee Handbell Association Board. Download the event flyer for more information and a registration form.