Handbells 2017-2018  Dr. Peter Stickney, instructor

The handbell ensemble at Deering High School will meet twice a week during the school year.  Monday and Friday mornings from 7:10 to 7:45.  In case of snow-please stay home consider our early rehearsal automatically cancelled.

Remember when you make a commitment to the Bell Choir-it is important that you have 100% attendance.  When we don’t have your bells covered we really cannot have a perfect rehearsal.  

We will play on the Deering Concerts-and hopefully be able to play at other events during the year.  

Concert dates are:

December 14-(Thursday) at Deering

******Plans are underway for a handbell-“Chamber night”

May 23, 2018  at Deering

In an effort to help musicians thrust into the world of bells here is a Q&E to answer some of the common questions.

WHAT ARE HANDBELLS? –They’re bells.  You ring them by hand.   ---   **** Okay-they’re a specially designed chromatic musical instrument designed to be played by a group of people—usually!—Although there are solo ringers.

AND WHAT ARE THOSE THINER CASES?  Hand chimes.  Same general principle to handbells, but a purer sound. Without as many overtones—more like a tuning fork.  They’re lighter, more durable, and less expensive, which is why they’re often used from children’s bell choirs.

TALK ABOUT GLOVES-  There is a great deal of disagreement in the handbell community about gloves.  Some say they protect the bells from the oils on our skin (true).  Others say pshaw, gloves are annoying and if you polish the bells regularly as you should it doesn’t really matter.  Personally, I hand over the decision on wearing gloves or not to each of my choirs.  It seems to work.

OKAY< I HAVE MY MUSIC BUT HAVE NO IDEA WHAT ALL THE SYMBOLS AND LETTERS ON THE SCORE ARE FOR. WHAT THE HECK!  Ok- Here is a short explanation of the many symbols used in handbell ensembles.

“R”- Ring normally, i.e. hold every note for its stated length of time, then damp the bell to stop the sound when you’re done.  

“LV”’ Let vibrate, i.e. hold every note until the end of time (or until there’s an R in the music or the director cuts you off.

“SK” OR A SQUIGGLY LINE--  Shake .  Pretty much what it sounds like.

DOWNWARD POINTING TRIANGLE- Mart.  Bit your bell against the pad with non-crazy force.

DOWNWARD POINTING TRIANGLE FOLLOW ABY AN UPWARD POINTING ARROW-  Mart lift.  Hit your bell against the pad with non-crazy force, then lift it up to let it continue ringing.

“PT” Pluck.  Put the bell on the table., grab the clapper, and throw it against the bell casting.

PLUS SIGN PLUS A STACCATO-  Mallet, Put the bell on the table and hit it with the mallet.


  I’m a little reluctant to explain proper handbell rigning technique through text.  I thnk the better way to learn it would be to watch.

  Go to YouTube and search {Rod Lloyd handbells}. He has a great bunch of videos showing how to ring bells and how to properly perform some fo the techniques.  

The DVD “Handbells Techniques with Michele Sharick” is a great lource as well.  It’s available though Amazon.

      Well-that’s the overview for now-

                     See you in the Music Room!