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Handbell Resources

This page is made with love, especially for the MCC Richmond's Bell Choir Ministry.

Learning Your Notes on the Staff

More Tips About Notation Training

  • When we play music from a sheet music part or score, we are often assigned two to four pitches to ring.

  • We need to be able to identify our notes and play in time with the rest of the bell choir, making music together.

  • The less we have to THINK about which notes to play, the more natural and cohesive, the more musical we can play...

  • Learning the notation and becoming better readers helps us as musicians.

    • It helps us know our own notes.​

    • It helps us understand how our part fits within the whole bell choir.

    • When we get lost, we can listen and see the music to find where we are.

  • Tips for learning our notation:​

    • Make or buy flash cards to practice each note on the staff.​

    • Look for note practice apps on a smart phone.

    • Practice a few times a week to get better.

    • Try to start with just a few notes, and add in more pitches as you learn.

    • Or, focus on practicing a range of pitches (Just treble clef, C4 - C5, etc.)

Practicing at Home

(when you can't bring your bell home)

1) Get a copy of Music - either paper or digital

2) Listen to the Piece - get an idea of how the whole piece sounds.  It's important to have a vision of how the music works before you practice it.  What are we trying to say?  What are we trying to communicate, what emotions do we want conveyed?

3) Follow your part when listening along with your music
  • You're looking for how your part fits in with the rest of the piece. 
  • Following along with your music while you listen is important because when you are in-person with our ensemble, you can hear all of the melody lines and how you fit in. 
  • On your own, you also need to hear your part while you practice.

4) Mark everything you need...
Write in rhythms (if not already marked), any bell changes, courtesy accidentals, questions for the conductor... 

5) Pantomime your part along with the music.
  • Pretend you have bells in your hand, that you are actually ringing along.

  • Or "ring" with actual items in your hand:  plastic bottles, kitchen utensils, cans of soup, fruits or vegetables....

  • You could make their own "bells" with solo-cups and popsicle sticks or spoons.

  • Get yourself a set of "kids bells" or toy bells.

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Handbell Technique

"Technique can be defined as the ability to play and produce the exact musical effect or note desired in a correct, efficient, and healthy way.¹"

Basically, there are different ways to play a handbell.

We want to learn to play different types of music and we'll get better the more we play.

Basic Ringing

Basic Ringing Strokes

(~5 min w/ Blanche Marie)

Bell Damping

(~5min Bell Matters, with Blanche Marie)

Stopped Sounds

Stopped sounds are a way to get the pitch of a bell without the resonance.  It's sounds like a pizzicato technique...

 Stopped Sounds ~41 minutes, Clinician Kathy Ebling Shaw


Weaving is a technique used to play multiple bells.


(~20 min, Ben Brown)


(~6.5 min, with Blanche Marie)



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First Performance After Pandemic, October 2022


Kendell visits a BIG bell

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Our Performance White Gloves Stay Clean!

Thank you!

Home for Christmas Concert - 2022

Performance Recordings

​We're very proud of the hard work that goes into making the music happen.  

We're also grateful for the volunteers on the Communications team who do their best to share the life and ministry of MCC Richmond with people around the world!

Spread the music, spread the Love!

Older Performances:

Prayers of the Faithful Ringer

Lord, grant that what we ring with our hands we may sing in our hearts, 
and what we sing in our hearts we may do in our lives.



Oh Lord, please don't let us [bleep] up, and if we do [bleep] up, don't let it be me.



Let me ring correctly, 
But if I cannot ring correctly
Let me be brave in the attempt.



May every ringing of our bells
and every note we sing
tell all who hear our music
to come and worship, 
for in ringing and singing
we do witness for the Lord, our God.

Bell History and Culture

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