Solo Handbell Ringing For Dummies

handbells face down near music

Nothing beats the pleasure of creating beautiful music on your own as a solo handbell ringer. For those seeking to take their handbell playing to the next level, solo handbell ringing can be a daunting but also gratifying endeavor.

The level of control you have over the music is one of the most fundamental contrasts between solo handbell ringing and being in a handbell chorus. As a soloist, you have complete control over the song, with the power to speed up, slow down, and modify the dynamics at any time. This level of control enables a considerably more expressive and dynamic performance, which can be exhilarating as well as challenging.

How Does Solo Handbell Playing Differ From Handbell Choirs?

Another distinction is the level of concentration required. Individual players in a handbell choir can rely on the group for support, but as a soloist, every note and every error is emphasized. You must be acutely aware of each moment, which can be both thrilling and nerve-racking.

Solo handbell ringing, on the other hand, necessitates a distinct skill set. Each musician in a choir is normally responsible for a single set of bells or chimes, but as a soloist, you must be able to play many bells at the same time. Hand-eye coordination is essential, as is the ability to read and analyze complex music.

Another unique aspect of solo handbell ringing is the need to craft your own individual sound. The sounds you create should be both full and nuanced, with a distinct personality that sets it apart from other performances. This requires practice, as well as an understanding of how to use dynamics and volume to convey emotion and shape the music in exciting ways.

Despite the difficulties, solo handbell ringing can be quite satisfying, both artistically and personally. The capacity to compose beautiful music on your own is a powerful sensation, and mastering this art form can be quite rewarding.

Getting Started with Solo Handbell Ringing

Choosing the right bells is the first step. You’ll want to find a set of bells that are comfortable and easy to use, as well as one that produces a pleasant sound. You may also want to consider different sizes and weights—for instance, a three-octave set usually consists of 8 bells while a four-octave set has 16 bells. Keep in mind that solo handbell music is written for one person, so this may influence the number of octaves you have in your set.

Learning how to read handbell music notation is also critical. Handbell music notation often looks different than traditional musical notation, so take the time to familiarize yourself with this form of music depending on your chosen compisition. As a member of a choir, you may be able to get away with not reading music but for a handbell soloist, that is not the case!

Equipment is also a major component of solo handbells. You will require the basics such as a sturdy table to place the bells upon, as well as handbell gloves of course. Optional supplies may include equipment such as mallets, a bell tree, or even a piano which can be utilized as an accompaniment for your solo music.

Advanced Practices Techniques for Solo Ringing

If you want to pursue solo handbell ringing, the first step is to practice, practice, and practice some more. Begin with simple pieces, and progress to include more complicated scores as a part of your repertoire. It is also ideal to seek out a mentor or coach who can offer advice and comments on your technique and performance. A beginner may not want to perform a handbell solo in a high-pressure setting (such as a packed Christmas Eve service) but some ringers thrive when the opportunity to shine comes!

You may start with a handbell solo during one of your regular handbell performances, in order to ease into it. In addition, having a piano accompaniment helps ease nerves, as it is not just you performing the musical arrangement.

Additionally, focus on developing your own individual style. Try experimenting with different techniques such as shakes, marts, and swings in your solos, and explore various methods of arranging the written notes in compositions into a new melody. As you do this, consider how your choices will affect the overall sound and create a unique soundscape that you can call your own.


To summarize, solo handbell ringing is a distinct and difficult endeavor that necessitates a different set of talents than performing in a handbell choir. However, with hard effort and attention, it can be an extremely gratifying and fulfilling experience. So, if you want to take your handbell playing to the next level, consider solo handbell ringing!

You May Also Like