Nancy teaching a public beginner workshop in Victoria BC

Nancy Kirkner offers classes, and coaches individuals both in person and via online chat.   She has a strong commitment to “sending the elevator back down” by sharing what others have taught her about handbells with those who want to learn the instrument.   She welcomes inquiries from handbell musicians of all levels.

Nancy served on the faculty of International Handbell Symposium in Vancouver, BC in July 2016 and of National Seminar of Handbell Musicians of America (formerly AGEHR) in July 2013 in Portland, Oregon. She has a wealth of experience teaching and speaking about handbells to handbell musicians, music teachers, percussionists, and general audiences.

Here is a sample of workshops Nancy has taught:

  • Ensemble (quartet) skills – all day workshop covering the paradigm shift from choir to quartet ringing, weaving, fast pickups, table damping, signaling, passing, repertoire, and reading quartet scores. Participants have a chance to practice ringing as a quartet and meet prospective long-term quartet partners.
  • Beginning four-in-hand – Shelley, ring-and-knock, combo ring, alternate Shelley
  • Advanced four-in-hand – interlocked (Campanile style), traveling four-in-hand, Shelley/four-in-hand plus and minus, picking up setups with the opposite hand, and finger damping
  • Six-in-hand – interlocked (with variations), cluster, claw, and stacked, plus recommendations for setup order
  • Mallet skills – Choosing mallets; mallet grip and stroke; table and suspended malleting; sticking strategies; implementing dynamics on malleted bells; blending mallets across the choir; notation, resources, and drills; special situations, like malleting off the beat, changing from mallets to ringing, malleting multiple bells in hand, and mallet rolls
  • Bell trees – setting up and playing the keyboard configuration
  • Handbells 101 – the basic ringing stroke, damping, and understanding handbells as an instrument
  • Handbell techniques – basic bell techniques, including stopped sounds, sustained sounds, and altered sounds (taught both as a half-day workshop and as a 10 week series for adult beginners)
  • Weaving – managing multiple bells without using four-in-hand
  • Beyond mezzo-forte:  Implementing dynamics – Dynamics make music come alive. It’s not a question of brute force, but of technique, bell position, and movement. Learn the secret that helps sopranos hit the high notes, and percussionists (that’s us!) play louder. The director asks you to “bring out the melody;” can you do it? How do you differentiate an accent from a tenuto, or place your note in the middle of a crescendo? All will be revealed in this hands-on class.
  • Toward greater solo handbell artistry – Now that you can handle “all those bells,” take the next step in your development as a solo handbell artist. This lecture-demonstration covers issues of musicality, repertoire development, choreography, and performance. For intermediate to advanced soloists.
  • Copyright basics for handbell musicians – Bells would do nothing but clang without composers. By respecting their intellectual property rights, we encourage them to write more music we love to ring. Learn about copyright issues, when it is and isn’t OK to photocopy, performance royalties, mechanical and synchronization licenses, and broadcasting on YouTube. Think your church or non-profit is exempt, or covered by ‘fair use?’ The truth might surprise you.
  • No ringer left behind – Every director has met one: the ringer not quite keeping up, but determined to try. Learn teaching tips to help your struggling ringer while maintaining confidence, plus exercises your ringer can do at home. Ringers also welcome; this is a safe haven with no sight-reading required!

All handbell technique classes are hands-on, with a written handout and resource list, discussion of notation and applications, an emphasis on ringing both safely and musically, and an opportunity to network with other ringers. She would be glad to develop a custom workshop for your group.

Copyright © 2017 Nancy Kirkner,

A goldmine for ringers