Attendees to Red, White & Bells will be able to attend class workshops on a variety of skills topics throughout the conference.

Sessions will be geared toward improving your ringing technique, conducting, musicianship, and there may be some non-ringing activities thrown in there also!

Please note that class sessions will be geared toward the diverse, yet specific needs of each ringing division. There is something for everyone!

Attendees will select their class sessions during the registration process. A registration guide will be available prior to the opening of registration to aid in pre-planning your selections.


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Youth Conference Classes

Orff Activities for Bells – Ding’in and Sing’in

Instructor: Melanie Graber

We will be using spontaneous play with game songs adding bells and chimes to enhance songs. We will review musical concepts and add harmony parts to songs while singing and playing games.

Rhythm and Movement – Who Needs Bells?  Body Percussion and Rhythm

Instructor: Melanie Graber (Track A)

Delve into the depths of rhythms with just your body.  Clap, patsch, stomp, and snap your way to  rhythm success.  We’ll review rhythm reading and explore how we can work together to create  cool, complex music with just our bodies.

Rhythm and Movement – Who Needs Bells?  Body Percussion and Rhythm

Instructor: Melanie Graber(Track B)

Delve into the depths of rhythms with just your body.  Clap, patsch, stomp, and snap your way to  rhythm success.  We’ll review rhythm reading and explore how we can work together to create  cool, complex music with just our bodies.

Theatrics of Bells

Instructor: Michèle Sharik

Great! You’ve learned the music, you’re ready to perform, or are you? This class will teach some fun ways to improve your stage presence, and also make your handbell performance dramatic and memorable for the audience!

Ringers Conference Classes

Advanced and Traveling 4-in-Hand Techniques

Instructor: Beth Mays

This class will cover traveling 4-in-hand technique as well as other advanced 4-in-hand skills. Attendees should already have a basic understanding of the 4-in-hand technique.

Beginning Conducting — Is It Really All About the Beat?

Instructor: Herb Geisler

This is for the ringer or conductor at any level, asking: “What is conducting really about?” Was the first thing you learned “the beat”? Have some conductors never escaped that rut? Should they never have started there in the first place?

We draw upon Dalcroze, Strepka/Labán, Green, Boonshaft, Czikszentmihályi, and Bernstein, applying movement, flow, inner sense, psychological conducting, reimagining what we do as directors and ringers— even at Level 1 – even AWAY from the table!

Bell Trees For Hymn Embellishments

Instructor: Dian Ruder

If you are familiar with how to set up and ring a bell tree, come get some ideas for use with hymns and other songs. We’ll discuss and practice the best ways to create them, make them audible, give variety and lend “sparkle” as an adjunct to congregational music.

Bell Trees: Solo Ringing Without the Stress!

Instructor: Dian Ruder

You, too, can play a bunch of bells without the choreography needed for table solo ringing. We will discuss and practice how to hang the bells up, how to mallet, how to pick music and how to get creative. Bring mallets for C5 and up if you have them. Bring four bells in the C scale or more if you are able.

Best Practice Handbell Ringing

Instructor: Barbara Meinke

Whether you’re a brand new beginner or a veteran, this session will teach (or remind) you what to do before you ever pick up a bell or chime. Learn ergonomic techniques to help you survive those long rehearsals, concerts, and day-long ringing festivals, without pain or soreness. Ringers will be introduced to the “Three S’s” and will focus on developing a relaxed ringing style to help control the bell, ring dynamically and make beautiful music.

Break Your Brain

Instructor: Michèle Sharik

As handbell musicians, we’re pretty good at using our hands, but how about adding in our feet? Four-limb independence is the Holy Grail of coordination exercises, so let’s work on getting our feet moving, too!

Christmas In July: Level 2-3 Reading Session of Sacred New Music Offerings

Instructor: Scott Leggett

Bring your mittens and hot chocolate, (gloves and water bottles for sure), and spend some time ringing through new sacred music from our publishers for the Fall, Advent and Christmas season. Come in a decorated hat or shirt and there will be prize for the most creative. Tis the season.

Crazy Fun – Operation Cooperation!

Instructor: Melanie Graber

Can puzzles, balloons, and marshmallows help you ring bells? Absolutely! In this workshop we’ll explore multiple aspects of ensemble performance through “play”. We all play bells together so let’s take time to have fun, laugh, and play together!

Diminishing Page Turns

Instructor: Paul Allen

One of the least appealing characteristics of handbell ringing is the page turn – the paper chase. Here, the ringer must add a third hand; two already embrace musical instruments. The listener must ignore the obnoxious papers swishing, especially during a tender rubato passage.In this demonstration/participation class, our ensemble exposes our solution to this necessitous adversity – The Music Tablet, an explanation based upon this, our first year’s experience.

The first part of the class hosts a demonstration through projection of the critical elements of our machine – the 13.3” tablet, the software, the foot pedal, and the scanned files. Ringers will then guide the audience through participation in the actual tools. Questions raised by the participants will be answered by the ringers and the director to satisfy concerns such as how we raised the money to pay for the equipment, how we were trained to use the machines, and what are our frank opinions regarding the switch, as well as legal (copyright) considerations. Included in this class will be take-home documents describing the cost of our technology, alternative hardware and software, fundraising ideas, and other advice. Our goal through this presentation – in addition to becoming paperless – is to share an enlightened solution to the page-turning problem through experience and honest sharing.

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Boomwhackers, and Then Some

Instructor: Kendra Symonds

This class will explore different ways to use boomwhackers in performance, but mostly, we’re just going to play fun games with boomwhackers for an hour.

Getting the Most Out of Rehearsal and Practice

Instructor: Brad Hendricks

We all know that rehearsal and practice is important, but how should we rehearse? What are the habits and techniques that we can use to get the most out of our rehearsal and practice time? Most of us don’t have a set of handbells at home, so what are some of the things we can do outside of rehearsal that will help us achieve our goals? We will discuss the do’s and don’ts of practice, how to rehearse in a relaxed and confident way, and what we can do to make the most of the limited time we have to prepare a piece of music. Once we know how to properly practice, rehearsal will become more enjoyable, and we will be able to perform with calm confidence!

Handbell Articulations for Beginners – Take a Chance and Roll the Dice

Instructor: Marquise Usher

Move over Lady Luck! In this class you will identify and define handbell articulations used in handbell music and how to successfully execute them. There’ll be no bluffing the next time you encounter these articulations!

Handbell Articulations: Making Them Musical – Go All In!

Instructor: Marquise Usher

Now that you’re a wise guy, let’s raise the stakes a little! In this class we’ll take articulations to the penthouse. Let’s give handbell articulations some nuance and pizzazz! Keep your eye in the sky and your hands on the board and let this Pit Boss give you the rundown on how to wager against your martellatos and win!

Handbell Heptathalon

Instructor: Sharon Guilliams

So, you have been doing what you love – ringing, but have you been missing the thrill of friendly competition that is associated with the Olympics, baseball, friendly family flag football, etc? If so, Handbell Heptathlon is the place for you. Seven events in seventy-five (75) minutes. This class will test both your mental and ringing prowess. The champions will be crowned at the final massed ring. Who will win the tin, copper and bronze medals?

Healthy Ringing in a Conference Setting

Instructor: Katryn Howell

This class will provide tips and tricks for ringers to make it through a three day conference injury free. Attendees will learn strategies for healthy ringing and body awareness.

Help! We’re Short a Ringer (or Director)

Instructor: Gail Berg

Taylor is transferring to another state. Chris broke a finger. Alex is heading to college. Patty got the flu. Charlie is retiring. Jamie is in the hospital. Emergency, short- and long-term solutions to (musically) ringing pieces when down a ringer (or few), or how to survive with a sub or without a director. Communication, social media, network building, developing replacements, music selection, bell assignments, shared bells, ensemble ringing, and how to prepare as a substitute will be some of the topics discussed.

Intermediate Conducting: Making a Musical Impression

Instructor: Herb Geisler

This is for directors who want to feel more comfortable up front as well as ringers who are trying to figure out their conductors!

It is NOT (primarily) about making prettier gestures or more precision. Just as with handbell ringing itself we explore the sensuous interaction of feeling, musical development and form between ringer and director through gesture, movement, and score study.

Perhaps you will leave this session not just with a slightly new “look” but an even deeper awareness of the ringer-director symbiosis—an experience in “isomorphic correspondence.”

Learn Classic Change Ringing for Next Sunday!

Instructor: David Ruder

Change Ring is done every Sunday in London in places like Trafalgar Square and St. Paul’s Cathedral. It’s a major part of the history of English bell ringing. In this class your team of at least four can participate in this tradition on a Sunday morning or at your very next concert program. Dave Ruder starts his young ringers at age 8 performing changes and your group too can learn up to nine different classic bell changes. A group of four or more from your bell team is perfect, or you can combine with others to form a team. Bringing a C scale from your table would be great, but we have bells available for you to use.

Level B Reading Session: Secular Repertoire

Instructor: Marquise Usher

Read through a selection of handbell repertoire with a focus on secular titles in the Level 2-3 difficulty range.

Panic Free Ringing (Basic Multiple Bell Techniques)

Instructor: Christine Anderson

You have to ring more than 2 bells, so how do you do that without crossing hands, breaking the legato line, or passing out in a panic? How many different ways are there to ring more than one bell in a hand? We’ll explore all the various techniques: how to pick up on the fly, kinds of grips, how to ring each bell separately and together, damping tricks, helpful hints.

No Really, Music Theory isn’t Scary!

Instructor: Kendra Symonds

Feel daunted by those V7 chords? Ever wonder what a supertonic is? This class will explain some of the fundamentals of music theory in a way everyone can understand. Knowing the structure of a piece of music makes it easier to play and harder to lose your place. We’ll use the conference music for examples. There will be Oreos.

Reading Session – Level 1-2 Music

Instructor: Christine Anderson

No pressure ringing for beginning-intermediate ringers and directors, just fun sight-reading new music with fresh ideas and off-the-wall techniques. Read through a selection of handbell repertoire with a focus on titles in the Level 1-2 difficulty range.

Remedies for Division A and Massed Ringing

Instructor: Barbara Meinke

Didn’t get enough rehearsal at home? Decided to join us at the last minute? Just wish you had one more pass before playing with Stevie? Don’t feel alone and unprepared! Join us for a review of the music on tap. We’ll troubleshoot, find solutions, spot-practice, review technique, and help you feel at home!

Remedies for Division B and Massed Ringing

Instructor: Barbara Meinke

Didn’t get enough rehearsal at home? Decided to join us at the last minute? Just wish you had one more pass before playing with Stevie? Don’t feel alone and unprepared! Join us for a review of the music on tap. We’ll troubleshoot, find solutions, spot-practice, review technique, and help you feel at home!

Running a Children’s Ensemble

Instructor: Karen Carlisle

This class is based on working with kids, starting a kids group or learning new tricks for an existing group. We will look at a system that gets kids ringing a song in a short period of time and feeling successful right away. What is an appropriate length of rehearsal and rehearsal techniques. Teaching dynamics and note value. Looking for music what works best, what if we only have 6 kids what are the options? Making group expectations, curriculum suggestions and music suggestions.  

Small Ensemble Ringing Skills for the Division B Ringer

Instructor: P.L. Grove

Founded in 2001, Velocity Handbell Ensemble has had some of its most enjoyable moments as a quartet. Why is this? The success of a smaller ensemble is grounded not only in skillful assigning of parts, but also in playing applicable techniques and cultivating a willingness to think outside of the box and move outside of one’s comfort zone. Velocity Artistic Director P.L. Grove will teach participants in this class some of the techniques, tips and tricks that made Velocity such a hit. Get ready to take your small ensemble to the next level!

Small Ensemble Ringing Skills for the Division C Ringer

Instructor: P.L. Grove

This class will include some of the same tips and tricks from Small Ensemble Skills for the Division B Ringer and will touch on a few additional skills. The pace and detail will move along faster, depending on the participants. Participants should have performed in a small ensemble and have a solid grasp of weaving and four-in-hand (unlocked). Individuals concerned as to whether they are ready for this class are encouraged to contact the course instructor, P.L. Grove (email: Get ready to take your small ensemble to the next level!

Small Ensembles as a BEGINNING Ringing Experience

Instructor: Herb Geisler

Small handbell ensembles (usually quartets) are often composed of more experienced ringers who assume that “small” means “difficult.” Even then the music might be more like a puzzle to be conquered than fluid performance.

But what if we taught small ensembles from the very beginning as a means of teaching the most fundamental ringing techniques and musical sense?

Here simple, melodious, harmonious, even familiar tunes in SATB texture are used to teach four to six less-experienced ringers graceful strokes, precise rhythm, good tone, multiple-bell technique, passing, exchanging, articulation, notation, and musical expression.

Solo Ringing Skills

Instructor: Michèle Sharik

Have you always wanted to ring a solo piece, but don’t know where to start? Learn how to apply essential skills — including table damping, weaving, multiple-bell techniques, and displacement of bells — to a simple solo. We’ll also learn how to clearly mark our music so we can remember how to do it next time!

Understanding HMA’s Copyright Policy

Instructor: Tessique Houston

Understanding HMA’s Copyright Policy – participants in the class will get the instructor’s perspective on copyright law and how HMA strives to enforce it. This will include the policies in place for print music, music use on tablets (iPad, Surface Go, Surface Pro, Galaxy Tab, etc.), recording concerts, and posting concerts on the web (YouTube, Facebook, etc.). Registrants can expect to come away with a better understanding of HMA’s policies, and strategies for working to make our music happen within these guidelines. Tessique is not a lawyer (nor does she play one on TV). She just likes to follow the rules and make sure that we all play nice together!

Up Your Ante: Level 3-4 Reading Session of Secular New Music Offerings

Instructor: Scott Leggett

Time to challenge your reading skills and play through some new and exciting secular music from our publishers. You may hit the jackpot and find some interesting music to use later and let go of any fear of sight-reading errors during our time, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas!

What’s in Your Toolbox?

Instructors: Christine Anderson

Find out how to make your own repairs and basic maintenance from the experts! Discover some unusual fix-its, for both Malmark and Schulmerich handbells. Have an issue with a bell? Bring it to class for us to fix it. What do you need in your toolbox?

Where’s the Melody – Score Study

Instructor: Brad Hendricks

How many times have you heard your director say, “Bring out the melody!” but on a page filled with notes, how do you tell what is melody and what isn’t? If you want to play more musically, one of the most important things to understand is the functions of all the notes you play, whether they are melody, harmony, accompaniment or counter-melody. We will show you the hints and clues in the music that point to those elusive melody notes, and what we can do with that knowledge to play more musically.