The Newsletter of Area 1 Handbell Musicians of America | Vol. XXXVII No. 6 | December 2022
  • Report from the Chair
  • Winter Workshop 2023
  • Festival Conference 2023
  • Guest Article: The Paper (or not) Concert Program
  • Notes from State Chairs: CT, ME, MA, NH, RI
  • Please be sure to scroll down to see - and support - our advertisers
Report from the Chair
Lisa Arnold
Merry Christmas to all Area 1 Handbell Musicians!

The holidays are upon us and for many of us, that means the concert season is in full swing, too. I am excited for all the concerts that are scheduled this month – In addition to my own full concert schedule, I hope to attend a few of the others happening around the area, and I encourage you to find a concert or two to attend as well. We can all help keep our art thriving by supporting each other. Check out the sponsored ads below, look on our website's Events Page or find out about events through the New England Area Handbell Musicians Facebook group. 

In addition to the many concerts this December, registration is now open for Winter Workshop happening on January 27-28, 2023 and the Area 1 Festival Conference happening this June 23-25th. Be on the lookout for special practice sessions scheduled for Massed, Bronze, Coppers, and Tins music offered throughout New England for Orphans and full choirs alike. If you want to sponsor a Massed-music rehearsal at your location, send me a note at and we’ll help you publicize it!

May you all have a wonderful holiday season! Please come up and say hello if I see you at a concert this month.

Lisa Arnold
Area 1 Chair, Handbell Musicians of America
Winter Workshop Registration is Open!
Join us at UMass Amherst, January 27-28, 2023

We are excited to be back together for Winter Workshop 2023! If you want to meet new people, become more effective in your ringing or directing skills, work with great directors - including David Harris of the the Raleigh Ringers, and share experiences with others in a social atmosphere, this fun-filled weekend is for you. Register by December 22 to get the Early-Bird price of $170. Special hotel rate (UMass Campus Hotel; cutoff is December 30). Click link for details:
Pre-Register for Festival Conference now - save money and secure your spot!
June 23-25, 2023 at Worcester State University

Attendee pre-registration is now open through January 31. With a deposit of $125, you can save $50 off your registration and get Early-Bird access to classes and housing options. Scholarships based on financial need are also available.

This year we’ll have limited space on the ringing floor, so be sure to reserve your space early. Ringers will have the opportunity to work with our two amazing clinicians, Emily Li and Matthew Compton. Click here to get started:
Bronze Orphans: We'd love you to join us! All the information you need is found here.

We are accepting Festival sponsorships now, so if your organization would like to support Area 1 in this manner while gaining excellent promotional value, visit our Sponsorship page.
Area 1 Scholarships Available!

Did you know that Area 1 offers a variety of scholarships? To read more about them, visit our scholarship page.
Area 1 Updates COVID-19 Policy

On September 11, 2022, the Area 1 Board of Directors voted to update its COVID-19 Policy as it applies to all Area 1 Sponsored Events. You can read the update here.
Guest Artlcle: The Paper (or not) Concert Program
by Lauren M. Larson
So much more goes into preparing for a concert or series of concerts than choosing and rehearsing the music. Ironically, the thing we often leave to the end is our audience’s first impression of us: the program they get when they walk through the door. I have played with and seen other groups try a variety of methods depending on a combination of budget, time, and desired audience experience.

No program is the simplest and cheapest option, but it is a missed opportunity! A program invites the audience to connect with you physically and visually, giving them a piece of you to take home and act upon later, such as visiting your website or telling a friend about another one of your concerts on the schedule. A program also allows them to follow along with your concert visually and not sit there wondering how many more songs you have.

Printed 8.5 x 11 is the next simplest option. A single sheet of paper, front and back, is often plenty for a concert name, description of the group and its members, and list of pieces with room to spare. Simplest is a single sheet, or you can get a little fancier with the folded variety. With this, we often see these 4 pages: cover page with artwork or a picture; inside pages to include a group bio/list of members and a list of songs being played; back cover could contain a survey, info about the “home” organization (e.g. church), donation options, sing-along lyrics, and more.

Printed 8.5 x 5.5 cardstock is a professional-looking minimalist approach with room for the list of songs on one side and perhaps a group photo, concert art, group bio, or more songs on the other side.

Professional multi-page booklets remind me of playbills you get at a live theater production or orchestra concert series. My home ensemble, Shoreline Ringers, often chooses this option, as we can include many things: group bio, ringer profiles, song selections, list of donors, donation and hiring info, and list of upcoming concerts. We also sell ads to fill space, add color, and recuperate the printing cost. This format definitely requires the most work of the print options explored here, as it means gathering the information, laying out multiple pages of a program, selling advertisements, and finishing early enough to get the books printed.

Digital programs are becoming more popular and are the most flexible. You set up a webpage with your concert information and hand out at the concert only a sheet of paper containing a QR code or web address. A smartphone is needed in this case, and audience members either scan the QR code or type in the web address to follow along. There’s no limit to what you can do here: publish a single webpage with the concert info, multiple pages such as one for each song with an associated image or story, “donate now” or “join now” links... The simpler the program, the less distracting the phone followers will be while you perform. This option also lets you make last-minute updates as needed.

What other types of programs has your ensemble used? Please send your best – and worst - stories with me at, and I’ll share some of your ideas in the next Fundamental Tone.

-Lauren M. Larson
Suzanne Neafus, Connecticut State Chair
Greetings –

It's the most wonderful time of year. Bell concerts and performances are everywhere. Hopefully, everyone is hanging in there as they are busy getting ready. Below is a list of some upcoming events; it is always great to go out and support your fellow musicians.

The area-wide Winter Workshop and Festival Conference will be in the new year. Information about both can be found elsewhere in this newsletter. Plans are also underway for a
Repertoire Reading to be held in Fairfield County in May 2023. Information and registration for that will be sent out in January.

Feel free to email me when you send out notices for concerts and performances. Not only can I include them in this newsletter, but I also love to attend and meet all the ringers around our state.

Wishing you the happiest holidays and a wonderful New Year in 2023!

Suzanne Neafus
CT State Chair
Upcoming Concerts Around Connecticut:

Chime In! Music with a Mission
1. Christmas Bells & Apple Crisp
Saturday, December 10, 2022 at 1:00 p.m. at First Church of Bethlehem, CT
Chime In! Handbell Concert teams up with the First Church Missions Committee providing Apple Crisp following the concert. Church fair starts at 10:00 a.m. and lunch is available.
2. Candlelight & Carols
Sunday, December 11, 2022 at 3:00 p.m. at Valley Presbyterian Church, Brookfield CT
Chime In! presents a concert of carols and seasonal music with guest ringers from Valley Presbyterian Church.
Annual Candlelight Christmas Concert
at First Church, 190 Court Street, Middletown, CT
Sunday, December 11, 2022 - 4:00 p.m.
Featuring holiday music by First Church handbell groups, vocal groups and musicians, as well as Christmas readings and singing of carols. Free; donations accepted. Handicapped accessible. FMI, call 860-346-6657 or visit
Shoreline Ringers
We're thrilled to be celebrating the holidays making music for all. See our ad at the bottom of this newsletter for all the dates and locations, or visit
Notes from MAINE
Dana Humphreys, Maine State Chair
Hello Maine Ringers!
Church and community handbell choirs are now in full holiday mode preparing for and performing Advent and Christmas music. Some of the most beautiful handbell music has been arranged for these holidays.

I hope your choir is giving serious consideration to attending the three-day Area 1 Festival Conference being held at Worcester State University from June 23-25. FC directors Matthew Compton (Bronze and Coppers) and Emily Li (Tins and Massed) are exciting young composers, arrangers and directors, and they have selected an engaging repertoire of music. Full choirs are encouraged to attend! If your choir is
not attending, you can sign up as an independent (or “orphan”) ringer and you’ll be assigned a position with another choir. For more details and registration information, click here: Festival Conference 2023

Want to spread the fun and enjoyment of handbell ringing to beginners? Consider forming an entry-level bell group in your church or community center. Many people have seen and heard handbell choirs play and secretly thought they’d like to give it a try, but they might feel shy about their ability. Beginning ringers do not need to know how to read music, there are creative ways to mark up music. Many experienced bell ringers are capable of teaching and directing a beginner group and there is a lot of Level 1 music to choose from. A beginner bell group also opens the doors to folks not affiliated with a church, and it offers fun and fellowship to folks who love music!

Lastly, check out this terrific video of the Handbell World Premiere of the “Beer Barrel Polka” arranged
by Hart Morris specifically for Oktobellfest 2022 held in Westerly, Rhode Island, in October. (The music is
now available for purchase here)

Best wishes to you all for a happy and music-filled holiday season!
ME State Chair
Abigail Schoppe, Massachusetts State Chair
Welcome to December! This is perhaps the busiest month of the year for all musicians, and our community ensembles are busily preparing for their holiday performances. We are very fortunate to have three bronze-level community ensembles based in Massachusetts, and I want to strongly encourage you to attend one of their concerts. Regardless of how long or at what level one has been ringing or directing, hearing these top-tier groups is always an inspiration!
You can find the full performance schedule for all three community choirs at the following links:
 Back Bay Ringers:
 Merrimack Valley Ringers:

Meanwhile, even as winter begins to set in, it’s time to think spring! This year, Massachusetts will be home to not one but two Spring Rings! Our usual MA Spring Ring will be held at Tewksbury Memorial High School on Saturday, April 22, from 10 AM to 4:30 PM; Karen Leonard and Ed Henderson will be the co-clinicians. More information can be found at In addition, Cape Cod Spring Ring will be held at Harwich Community Center on Saturday, April 15, from 9 AM to 3:30 PM, with Griff Gall as clinician. More information is at For both events, we anticipate opening registration on January 1, and the cost is only $15 per ringer. Please consider attending one or both Spring Rings, whether with your full choir or as an orphan ringer! You don’t have to live on Cape Cod, or anywhere in Massachusetts, to be welcome – last year’s MA Spring Ring included ringers from four of the six New England states, as well as orphans from as far away as Alabama and Colorado! Come make music with us!

Lastly, I would be remiss not to tout the larger-scale events that MA will host in 2023: both Winter Workshop (at UMass Amherst) and Festival Conference (at Worcester State University). For all things Winter Workshop-related, visit
workshop/. For all things Festival Conference-related, see Registration for both these events is open now!

See you at one or more events in the months ahead, I hope, and have a wonderful holiday season!

Abby Schoppe
MA State Chair
Kim Whitehead, New Hampshire State Chair
Greetings from the Granite State!

Just this past week, Cathy Marker shared, "I wanted you to be among the first to know that "Fantasy on Pisgah" for 3-6 octaves of bells has just been released at Jason Krug's publishing house (Grassy Meadow Music). This is the piece that I workshopped with Jason last spring. It's based on the early American hymn tune, "Pisgah" ("When I Can Read My Title Clear"), and is rated Level 3+. You'll find a link to a scrolling score on YouTube here:

Kim Whitehead
NH State Chair
Suzanne Neafus, Rhode Island State Chair
Greetings and Happy First of December everyone.
May you enjoy the holiday season to the fullest. This is always a busy time for bell ringers.

Looking ahead, please plan to join us for the Spring Bell A Palloza. This fun-filled event will take place on Saturday March 25th from 9 am – 12 noon at Exeter-West Greenwich Junior High School, 940 Nooseneck Hill Road, West Greenwich, RI

Spring Bell A Palloza
Are you in a Ringing Rut??

Leave your inhibitions at home and join in a Spring BELL-A-Palooza
Bring your gloves, binder, and a sense of humor.
We will ring, we will laugh, and we will learn!
ALL levels of ringers are welcome!

The event will be FREE for HMA members, with registration opening in January. The area-wide Winter Workshop and Festival Conference will also be in the new year. Information about both can be found elsewhere in this newsletter. Wishing you the happiest holidays and a wonderful New Year in 2023!

Suzanne Neafus
Connecticut State Chair
covering Connecticut and Rhode Island
Following is news from around Rhode Island. Feel free to email me about your group and/or upcoming concerts and performances. Not only will they be included in future newsletters, but I also love to attend and meet fellow ringers.

The Slatersville Congregational Church Handbell Choir (photo) has reinvigorated its group over the past year and now has enough ringers to fill out 3-octaves! They report, "We have beginners through experienced players and we have a lot of fun! We perform during services about once a month, sometimes performing with our church choir. We look forward to making more music this year as we gain more and more momentum!"
This image was taken at Oktobellfest, held in Westerly, RI, October 21-23. David Harris of The Raleigh Ringers led the group. Videos from the event can be seen here:
Vermont: Pat Pranger,
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