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

News from Arkansas

News from Arkansas

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.

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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Come learn from Stevie Berryman!

berrymanHey y’all! I can’t wait to see you in Memphis this June. I’ll be there teaching about the two topics I am most passionate about: ringing with children, and handbell concerts that don’t suck. 

I started a children’s chime choir at my church when my son was in 2nd grade, since he had been begging me to let him ring since he was in utero. I was not deterred by the fact that I had no experience ringing with children, or the fact that I couldn’t find any resources, or even that I had never seen a children’s chime choir before. Having no other options, I learned the old fashioned way…by making lots of mistakes. But my repeated failures are to your advantage, because I can now share strategies that are so heavily field-tested, they are practically bulletproof. You might enter this class a Chime Director, but you will leave a Chime Wizard!

I can remember once checking my watch to see how soon a handbell concert would be over…while I was performing in it. It doesn’t have to be that way. Concerts (yes, even handbell concerts) can be lively and engaging in ways that have nothing to do with the level of music you’re ringing. Everyone, beginner to expert, can put on a concert that will have your audience falling in love with you. It doesn’t happen by accident, though. I can teach you how to craft a concert that will turn the people in your audience into superfans.

I’m looking forward to seeing all of you in Memphis!

Stevie Berryman