Category Archives: Performance


An audience hears what it sees, especially in the ballet of solo ringing, where the performer’s body is an integral part of the instrument. One unique and beautiful aspect of handbells is that the audience can see the music moving up and down and flowing along the bell table. All movement should be organic, arising out of the music, neither squelched nor imposed for its own sake. The demands of the music and resulting movement influence choices about techniques and organizing bells. For example, you wouldn’t knowingly plan choreography that always resulted in a bell coming in late, or program a technique that detracted from the overall performance. Continue reading Footwork

Starting, ending, and transitions

I once read that a good sermon consists of a good beginning and a good ending, as close together as possible. While audiences don’t often nod off during handbell solos, we can engage them with a variety of openings and closings that enhance both the musical and the visual effect. Instead of starting and ending every piece with bells at the shoulder, wouldn’t it be more interesting to add some variety to your concert? Which would you rather watch: someone fidgeting during the piano introduction, or a soloist who approaches the table with confidence, making every move count? Would you rather see a soloist run down the table and snatch up bells for the next section, then stand idle until the piano catches up, or watch her move gracefully through the transition at her leisure? Continue reading Starting, ending, and transitions


Memorizing music frees you from the distraction of following notes on a page and allows you to relate to your performance partners and your audience while expressing the music to the fullest extent. Movement, even dance, is a key part of solo ringing, and you generally don’t see dancers with paper in front of them during performance. Having a binder of music (or worse, several binders of music) propped up in front of you prevents the audience from seeing the bells fully and may also block the sound. Even laying the music flat on the table draws your focus away from where it belongs: on the bells and your audience. Continue reading Memorization