5 Easy Tips On How To Start A Handbell Choir

potential handbell choir looking happy

Starting a handbell choir is an exciting and rewarding endeavor. This type of music ensemble offers unique challenges, and with the right preparation, hard work, and dedication, your group will be able to create beautiful musical pieces in no time, even without professional training. In this blog post, we’ll give you a step-by-step process of forming a handbell choir- from finding the right members for your bell choir, all to the way to actually playing handbells. Let’s begin your journey into the world of handbells!

Gather a group of people interested in starting a handbell choir and choose Your Director

The first step in launching a handbell choir is to find other people who are interested in participating. If you attend church where handbell choirs typically perform, you can make an announcement during church services or ask other members of the congregation in your spare time. If you are having trouble gathering enough members for the choir (usually around ten people is the minimum needed, depending on how many octaves your choir will cover), you can research other churches to see if there are potential ringers there who can pitch in. Finally, general local resources such as Meetup.com, Facebook groups, etc. are a great way to fill in any gaps there may be. Handbell choirs are suited for almost all ages- children as young as teenagers can even ring the bells (assuming it’s okay with their parents)!

Choosing a director for the group is another important factor that sets the tone of how rehearsals, performances, and practices will be conducted. The director should have a solid sense of basic ringing technique, music fundamentals, as well as how to lead a chorus.

Research different types of handbells and find the right set and Accessories for your needs

Once you’ve recruited members for your group, it’s time to purchase handbell sets and any other accessories that may be necessary for a performance. Different types of bells are available, such as two-octave or three-octave sets, so choose the set that is most suitable for your needs as well as number of ringers that you have to start playing.

Additionally, other handbell accessories, such as handchimes and mallets, should be taken into consideration when making any such acquisition to start a handbell choir. You can also look to borrow bells at the beginning, if you do not have the funds for an upfront purchase. It’s okay if you would rather just begin with the basics- depending on the location, you may be able to take advantage of other instruments/techniques, such as using piano music to accompany your bell choir.

Set up a rehearsal space with necessary equipment

It’s important to create a well-equipped handbell ringing environment to ensure a successful rehearsal or performance. This includes supplies such as gloves for your members, music stands, chairs, and a padded table. The table where the handbells rest should have foam pads, so that one can easily lay the bells down without damage.

In addition, make sure the room is well-lit and insulated from any potential distractions or interruptions during rehearsals. Ideally, you would also have decent acoustics so that audience members can fully appreciate your efforts when it comes to creating beautiful music!

Learn basic techniques of ringing to work as an ensemble as a handbell choir

In order to perform handbell music properly and confidently, your ringers should learn at least the basics of rhythm and how to read notes on sheet music. Not everyone will be at the same skill level, and that’s okay! Some members may be starting from zero experience, and not know what a treble clef or a bass clef is. The more important thing is how you sound together as a handbell group- of course, you want to be in sync with each other during performances or choir rehearsals.

Directors should especially know that four-in-hand ringing is one of the more popular techniques, which involves two bells being rung in one hand as opposed to one bell- this may be necessary if you don’t have enough bell ringers to cover each individual bell. Every music director should also keep the group on track during practice, as there may be growing pains at the beginning. Each person may have a different idea of how to play the handbells, so it’s important to discover what works best for the group as a whole. As long as your choir has the fundamentals down such as ringing in a circular motion, keeping a steady beat, etc. you will be just fine!

Choose appropriate songs to Perform concerts or special events with your new handbell choir!

As you’ve learned by now, it’s important to recruit the right members for your handbell choir, possess the appropriate handbell set, acquire a suitable rehearsal space, and also have an understanding of music fundamentals such as rhythm and notation. Now, we’ll talk about practicing as much as possible before music performances, while also selecting appropriate handbell music for your choir.

When it comes to the songs you will play, consider how complex the pieces are versus how advanced your members’ skills are. You may find that some pieces are easier to use a mallet for during certain portions, as opposed to the traditional ringing of notes. Also keep in mind how long you’ve been practicing the bells together- some ringers may become nervous during performances, and get “stage fright” if they are not used to performing in front of large groups. You can always start off with simpler tunes, and build up to more difficult music arrangements slowly but surely.

Once you feel as though your handbells sound outstanding, you are ready to put on concerts or special events where you can showcase all of the hard work your handbell choir has put in. With enough preparation and dedication, your group can make truly inspiring melodies to share with others. Good luck, and remember most of all to have fun with your handbell choir!

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