The Newsletter of Area 1 Handbell Musicians of America | Vol. XXXVIII No. 4 | August 2023


  • Meet your new Board Chair
  • Notice of upcoming Area 1 Board Meetings
  • Area 1 By-Law Voting Results
  • Festival Conference 2023 Recap
  • Winter Workshop 2024 - Save the Date
  • Notes from State Chairs: CT, ME, MA, RI
  • Please be sure to scroll down to see - and support - our advertisers
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Report from the Chair

Jennifer Stack

Hello Area 1!

Summer is a time in the lives of most teachers to kick their feet up, relax, and rejuvenate in order to prepare to teach again in the Fall. For me, Summer has become the time I am able to pursue big bucket list dreams (like publishing children’s books), attend to important tasks (like cleaning out the basement) and travel. Because of handbells, this summer is full of that and so much more.  


One of my newer bucket list dreams was to stand up on the big podium at Festival Conference. I’m no stranger to a podium - I was a drum major in high school, but the chance to stand in front of so many ringers as a leader was intoxicating. I did get to ring the closing bell this year at Festival Conference as I got ready to lead Area 1 as Chair. This moment for me was a milestone - out of many ringers on the floor, I’m just one ringer. Yes, I really DO love handbells, but so do most of you reading this now. I’ve met so many ringers just walking around at events and workshops, and I look forward to meeting as many of you as I can in the future. What I want you to know is that I’m just one person. I realize that I have collected input from everyone I’ve talked to about what we can do to continue to grow our Area. But some isn’t all, and I honestly want to hear from you. Yes - you! 

It’s going to take every one of us reaching out a hand to invite someone new to ring, or to go to a handbell concert to ensure that this art is a living art. We’ve all faced challenges in our own handbell world over the last few years. I want to know what’s needed for support in your community. Maybe it’s a workshop for your new choir director who doesn’t know much about handbells (check out the Back Bay Ringer’s Director’s Workshop with Griff Gall on August 12th!) Maybe you need more workshops in your area, because it’s not one as densely populated as mine – let me know! Especially if you can host the workshop and bring the ringers, I can find someone willing to come to you!  Maybe you’re ready to start up a new group in your area because you are amazing and brave and we need more people like you! There are still chime loan sets available – contact me with your idea. Last, maybe you’ve considered joining or rejoining us on the board in the past. Maybe the time wasn’t right then, but I do encourage you to reach out now. Many hands make light work, and even if you’re not able to make a board level commitment, we can still use help with workshops. We benefit from adding your voices to impact our decisions throughout the year.  

As I talk to more of you, several areas of focus have appeared. You want more education and workshops. You need help with recruiting and retaining your ringers. You also need help integrating new ringers into your existing choirs. You want us to be responsive to the needs of all levels of ringers. I’ve heard you – but if your concern isn’t here, make sure I know about it. You can reach out to me anytime at

By the time this newsletter reaches you, I’ll be back from the National Seminar. I’m so excited to attend this year to listen to what other areas are doing and get new ideas and inspiration to share back here in Area 1. Emily Li is even one of my roommates! In 2024, National Seminar will be in Hartford CT, and I’d love for you to attend with me to see the world of handbells outside of Area 1! National offers more concerts, more classes, and more vendors than we do at Festival Conference. It’s a fantastic, inspirational experience and I encourage you to try it when it’s so close to home!  

Like any good handbell choir, Area 1 will be at our best when everyone is engaged and a part of the community. We felt some of that magic on the ringing floor in Worcester. Think about how you can spread your passion for handbells in your community, and how Area 1 can support your efforts! Volunteer, be brave, and reach out! 

Jennifer Stack

Area 1 Chair

Notice of Area 1 Board Meetings

Area 1 Board Meetings are open to all members of the Guild and held three times a year, usually in January, May and September. Please note that our next regular Board Meeting has been changed to Saturday, October 14. If you are interested in attending, please contact

Area 1 By-Law Voting Results

As of the day this article comes out in the Fundamental Tone, I am pleased to report that the proposed changes to the Area 1 By-Laws were adopted by the voting membership. This was an important step forward in conducting the business of Area 1, especially in the way that we elect and appoint members of the Board. I would like to offer my heartfelt thanks to all who voted, and I would also like to thank my fellow committee members, Pete Larson and Jenn Stack, who spent a lot of time going through and cross-checking to make sure the intent of the changes was well written.

As I leave the position of Past Chair, I feel grateful for the trust and friendships that you all have given me over the past 10 years that I have served on the Board. It has been an honor. I look forward to seeing you at future events!


Carlene Ruesenberg

(Past) Past Chair, Chair of the By-Laws committee


Festival Conference 2023 Wrap Up

What a success! Thanks to all who attended Festival Conference 2023 and to those who took the time to respond to our event survey. For a full recap of the survey results, click on the purple link below.

FC23 Survey Report

Thanks to Jeanine Vitale and Jim Stratton for capturing so many great photos at Festival Conference. Jeanine's photos are posted on our web gallery in the link below, and some of Jeanine's photos and all of Jim's photos can be viewed on the Area 1 Facebook page,

FC23 Photo Gallery

Winter Workshop 2024 is in the works!

Mark your calendar now for January 26-27, 2024, when Area 1 returns to UMass Amherst for our popular Winter Workshop weekend. The Distinctly New England track will be directed by Monica McGowan, and Beyond Basics, Before Bronze will be directed by Andy Wallace and Jane Nolan.

Repertoire for Distinctly New England:

  • Caprice - Cynthia Dobrinski, AGEHR Publishing 35035/3-5 octaves/Level 4+
  • Life’s Journey - Jason Krug, Jeffers Handbell Supply JHS9532/4-7 octaves handbells and handchimes/Level 5
  • The Snow Lay on the Ground – Arr. By Alex Guebert, MJMG1045/3-7 octaves handbells/Level 3+

Repertoire for Beyond Basic, Before Bronze:

  • The First Noel – Arr. Sandra Eithun, MRW8291/3-6 octaves handbells/Level 3
  • Air with Holy, Holy, Holy – Arr. Linda Lamb, MLC201697L/2-3 octaves handbells and handchimes/Level 2+

Stay tuned for registration details in the coming months!

Suzanne Neafus, Connecticut State Chair


It was great to see all those who attended last month’s Festival Conference. We had an amazing time, as you can see from the pictures at the end of this article. Did you miss out on the fun? Join us for Ring-a-Palooza on Saturday, September 23rd. More details are below. Also look below for upcoming concert dates of a CT summer ringing group.

Take care and Happy Ringing!

Suzanne Neafus

Connecticut State Chair

Upcoming Concerts

The Connecticut Handbell Musicians are a group of ringers orphaned by their home choirs over the summer that have been rehearsing in Bristol every summer for the last eight years. Our purpose is to continue to hone our skills and musicality throughout the summer working on things and music that we may not get the chance to do with our home groups.

2023 Concert Dates:

 Saturday, August 19: ArtsWalk – Woodbury, CT

 Saturday, September 9: The Bethlehem Fair – Bethlehem, CT

 Sunday, September 17: St. Andrew Lutheran Church – Bristol, CT

 Wednesday, September 20: The BigE – New England Center – West Springfield, MA

Visit for more information about the group or each event.

Fall Ring-A-Palooza

Are you in a Ringing Rut? Leave your inhibitions at home and join us for a Ring-A-Palooza. Bring your gloves, binder, and a sense of humor. We will ring, we will laugh, and we will learn! Ringers of all levels are welcome!

Date: Saturday September 23, 2023

Time: 9 AM – 12 Noon

Location: Universalist Church 433 Fern Street, West Hartford, CT

The event is FREE for HMA members.

Clinician: Jane Nolan

Questions? Contact Suzanne Neafus at

Registration is required by Tuesday, September 19: Click here for details and to register.

Connecticut at Festival Conference 2023:

Notes from MAINE
Dana Humphreys, Maine State Chair

Hello Maine Ringers!

The 2023 Area 1 Festival Conference, held in Worcester, MA, at the end of June, was a tremendous success. And there were many Maine ringers in the amazing crowd of 325!

Ten members of the Cumberland Congregational Church Handbell Choir, directed by Joy Toll-Chandler, attended their first Festival Choir. Since this was their first visit to FC, the entire choir received an Area 1 Scholarship to help pay for the cost of attending.

Beverly Pacheco, director of the Second Congregational Church of Warren bell choir, and her husband Jim, a ringer with the choir, also attended their first FC – and Jim even won a raffle basket! Three ringers from Penobscot Bay Ringers were there – Director Amy Rollins, who is also Area 1 Communications Director; Mya Dundzila (HMA Regional Membership Coordinator) who traveled all the way from Eddington (that’s near Bangor!), and Ann Walker. Kim Visbaras, who rings with churches in Auburn and Falmouth, attended and, for the umpteenth year, taught his highly popular African

Drumming workshop.

This was my second FC, and it was just as much fun as my first. Kim and I had the added pleasure of

playing percussion with two Tins pieces performed during the public concert - The Adventure Begins

(arr. Ron Mallory) and Amen Siakudumisa (arr. Cathy Moklebust).

Below are just a few pictures of the event; there are many more to see on the HMA Area 1 website and Facebook page. You can click on the photo composite to see the images and captions in a larger, more readable format.

The next Festival Conference will be held in 2025, destination yet to be announced. In the meantime,

Maine Ringers, it will soon be time to start making plans to attend the Maine Spring Ring in Auburn on

April 27, 2024. I heard from several people at FC who said they’re planning to attend, including a

dynamite youth group from Loudon, NH, who are excited to come so they can play “Amen Siakudumisa”


Enjoy your summer and happy ringing!


ME State Chair

Abigail Schoppe, Massachusetts State Chair

Hi, Massachusetts musicians!

What a joy it was to make music with so many of you in June at Festival Conference! I know that event was the culmination of intense work on everyone’s part – from the incredible logistical efforts of board members and Festival committee members, to all the work that directors put into teaching their groups the music, to each individual ringer who spent weeks or months learning

their part.

For many of us, summer is now time for a well-deserved rest. But before you completely ignore your calendars, please note the many upcoming events that will be occurring in Massachusetts!

First, on August 12, the Back Bay Ringers are sponsoring a workshop for new and/or less experienced handbell and handchime directors. Do you know a director who might benefit from attending this event? See all the details below!

WHEN: Saturday, August 12, 9 AM-1 PM

WHERE: Faith Lutheran Church, 360 S. Main Street, Andover, MA (spares people from having to drive into Boston!)


FEE: $25


The next day, on August 13, the New England Ringers will be offering their annual “Ringing under the Influence” sight-reading party. Details are as follows:

WHEN: Sunday, August 13, 1-4 PM

WHERE: Gray Barn, 2 Elm Place, Whitinsville, MA


On August 21, the Back Bay Ringers will be holding their annual Summer Ring, also open to all who want to come sightread some repertoire. Details are:

WHEN: Monday, August 21, 6:30 PM

WHERE: Old South Church, 645 Boylston Street, Boston, MA


On September 23, Sue Lee and Diane Burke will again join forces to offer morning skill-building workshops and afternoon repertoire reading. Details for this popular annual event are as follows:

WHEN: Saturday, September 23

WHERE: St. Matthew’s United Methodist Church, 435 Central Street, Acton, MA

FOR MORE INFO: Contact Sue Lee at or Diane Burke at

Looking much farther ahead, I’m delighted that I can already share all the details for Cape Cod Spring Ring 2024, as follows:

WHEN: March 16, 2024, 9 AM to 3:30 PM

WHERE: Harwich Community Center, 100 Oak Street, Harwich, MA

CLINICIAN: David Harris

FEE: $15 per ringer


  • Peal con brio - Karen Thompson. AGEHR Publishing in compatible 2-3 octave (AG23042) and 4-6 octave (AG46029)/Level 2
  • Go to Dark Gethsemane - Arr. Jason Krug. Beckenhorst Press in compatible 2-3 octave (HB473) and 3-5 octave (HB475)/Level 2
  • Grazioso - Arnold Sherman. Red River Music RRHB0042/3-5 octaves/Level 2+

If you’re located anywhere near the Cape (or if you just want a random vacation in March), I hope you’ll mark your calendars now!

Finally, stay tuned for info on MA Spring Ring 2024, to be held in Tewksbury. 147 ringers attended in 2023, but I think we can beat that number in 2024! Look for all the details in the October issue of the Fundamental Tone!

Happy ringing!

Abby Schoppe

MA State Chair

Suzanne Neafus, Rhode Island State Chair

What a blast we had at Festival Conference 2023. Many thanks to Jill Boday and the Slatersville Congregational Handbell Choir for donating the exceptional “Little Rhody” Traditions Raffle Basket and writing an article about their experience at the event. Check out below for pictures from Festival Conference, as well as other recent local handbell related events. Reach out at any point if you have anything you would like included in editions of the Fundamental Tone.

Take care and Keep on Ringing!

Suzanne Neafus

Connecticut State Chair

covering the states of Connecticut and Rhode Island

The Slatersville Congregational Handbell Choir enthusiastically participated in the Area 1 Festival conference in June. Our members were nervous to play, but once we got there and started ringing, the excitement took over! We were lucky to absorb some orphans into our group, and it was so nice to make some ringing connections throughout New England!

Some of our members expressed some sentiments about the conference. April said, “I am just so glad that I was able to go. Even though at the beginning of the conference I felt overwhelmed, I walked away with a sense of wanting to just be better at ringing bells.”

We felt that the weekend was educational, challenging, tiring, rewarding, and motivational, all at the same time! Our members said they had a great time and will return to the next one. Martha said, “As we started ringing at the first practice I thought ‘I’m in way over my head.’ But by the final concert I felt like I could hold my own on at least some of the pieces we played. That was a huge accomplishment.” And Sally stated, “The biggest thing I learned this weekend is there’s so much more to learn!”

Motivated by this conference and our enthusiastic ringers, I am so excited for the future of our handbell choir! We have some great ideas and music planned for the year ahead. We are going to continue to improve our skills, confidence, and musicianship. As Margaret said, “The conference inspired me to take my bell-ringing to the next level.” I’m so proud to direct this group and feel fortunate to have been given this opportunity.

Vacation Bible School Handbells

During the week of July 10-14, the Slatersville Congregational Church hosted Vacation Bible School for area children. The kids spent the week learning about the bible, Jesus, and their role in our lives. The kids were very enthusiastic about learning how to play the hand chimes, and we presented a short concert for the parents on the final day!

Ask Me About Handbells at the North Smithfield’s “Heritage Day”

Our town of North Smithfield, RI recently held its annual "Heritage Day" to celebrate the history of our little part of the state, specifically the village of Slatersville, the first planned mill village in America. Our church also boasts the oldest continuously running Sunday School in the country. I happened to be browsing some historical artifacts, while proudly wearing my "Ask Me About Handbells" shirt, when I was handed, a tiny bell found at John Slater's homestead. I didn't get to keep the little bell, but I was honored to connect a little history and a little bell ringing. --Jill Boday

New Hampshire: OPEN!
Vermont: Pat Pranger,
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