All posts by nkirkner

Difficulty levels for solo handbell music

There’s been some discussion recently about developing a system for assigning difficulty levels to solo handbell music. At present, works are not rated or are rated by subjective criteria, either by a handbell soloist (who tends to be more accurate) or by a non-solo-ringing handbell editor or composer (with mixed results). A common mistake is to assume a piece that is easy to read is easy to solo ring. Continue reading Difficulty levels for solo handbell music

Gloves – Jeffers article

As submitted to Vibrations, Winter 2014:

Handbell musicians wear gloves to protect bronze bell castings from spots caused by direct contact with bare skin. If not removed, these spots will mark the metal permanently. What type of glove to wear (or whether to wear gloves at all) is a highly personal preference, and may change over time. As a choir ringer, I started with cheap shared cotton gloves, progressed to gloves with plastic dots, and added Velcro® wrist straps when I began quartet ringing. My gloves changed again when I started solo ringing. Here are some thoughts to consider as you choose. Continue reading Gloves – Jeffers article

Memorization – Jeffers article

At National Seminar, I was thrilled to be asked to write an article for the Jeffers catalog Vibrations. After reviewing the list of topics covered in previous issues, and considering what I was teaching at the time, I decided to write about memorization. This article (published in Holiday 2013 Vibrations) draws from the memorization article previously published on this site, adapted to include suggestions for bell choir musicians and small ensembles, as well as soloists. Continue reading Memorization – Jeffers article

Sight-impaired ringers

Handbell musicians often assume it’s OK to enlarge handbell music for sight-impaired ringers. However, copyright law restricts the right to copy as follows:

1) What: literary (not musical) works
2) Who can copy: institutions that exist to serve the blind, like the Braille Institute
3) For: the legally blind Continue reading Sight-impaired ringers

Websites: content, domain names, hosting

Having an Internet presence is expected these days. People have to be able to find you – and reach you – online, or you‘ll miss out on opportunities and never know it. If you’ve never created a website, it might seem like a daunting task. But instead of thinking of it as a one-time project that you never have quite enough time for, break it into a series of smaller projects and build the website over time. Continue reading Websites: content, domain names, hosting

Stage lighting

While at National Seminar, I had the pleasure of meeting Alison O’Connell at the soloists’ dinner. Ali lives in Australia and is a professional production manager and stage manager. She has a lot of experience working with stage technicians, and had responded to an SOS last year when I needed information for a concert at a performing arts center, where I would be working with a lighting tech for the first time. I knew from prior experience that I needed to spell out my expectations clearly, as hardly anyone is familiar with the idiosyncrasies of solo bells. For example, I had performed in one venue where the sound tech was surprised to learn I wouldn’t stand in one spot through the whole performance. Continue reading Stage lighting

Kodály and solfège applications to handbells

I wrote previously about my experience taking Kodály training in conducting and musicianship. I recently completed Kodály Level 2 musicianship, though I opted not to take conducting because of time constraints. I’ve been thinking about how to apply these concepts to handbells, and I offer the following as food for thought. Continue reading Kodály and solfège applications to handbells