Classes at National Seminar cover all aspects of handbell musicianship:

Techniques for treble to bass, solo to ensemble; beginning to advance conducting; handbells in worship and education; musicality, percussion, and rhythm; managing and building a handbell program; and so much more. Review all the options below and make your selection before you begin the registration process.


50 Shades of Damping presented by Michele Sharik

One of the first things we learn as a handbell musician is to damp the bell. But, there is so much more to damping than just “on” or “off”! Discover how selective damping, soft damping, pre-damping, half-damping (and more) can help you shape your music and take your performance to new heights. Several hands-on musical examples will be given.

Anatomy for Musicians Made Easy presented by Rob Meyer-Kukan

Anatomy sounds technical and difficult to understand. After all, the study of anatomy is only for medical professionals, right? This class will teach you the basics of anatomy as it applies to music making. Building on the concept of, “your body is your instrument”, participants will take away a better understanding of how their body (their instrument) works, moves and makes music.

Balls! presented by Stevie Berryman

Take a break from ringing, but not from improving your skills. Learn how a $30 bucket of tennis balls can provide a year’s worth of games for your handbell choir that teach rhythm, coordination, ensemble skills, and more. Participation is expected. Protective gear is optional.

Basic Percussion Techniques presented by Greig Ashurst

Combining handbells with other instruments can make a concert truly memorable.  However, if they are played with incorrect technique, they can detract from the beauty of the musical art.  Get a refresher course on how to play some common percussion instruments that enhance handbell music. Learn proper grip, stroke, and performance practice from a professional percussionist.

Bass-ics presented by Monica McGowan

Weight, balance, gravity and physics – not a class in aerodynamics, but an instructional introduction to the realm of bass bells. This class in bass bell fundamentals presents the techniques and tips necessary for successful longevity in healthy bass bell ringing. This class is structure for the novice or new ringer to the bass section and those seeking or needing a refresher course.

The Best of Handbells Online presented by Derek Nance

Welcome to the 2017 Best Of Handbells On The Internet awards!!! In addition to spotlighting the best uses of social media, web design, and online newsletters, we’ll discuss the best practices for creating a web presence for your ensemble.

Beyond Bass-ics presented by Monica McGowan

Conquer the conundrums associated with bass bell ringing challenges. Scenarios and drills are presented in this class to discover concepts and solutions for those bass ringing puzzles. Be prepared to experience assignments and concepts outside the box. Learn to share those “experiences” with your bass bell partners.

Blocking – The Art of Choreography presented by Linda Krantz

This is it; you’re ready to take your solo ringing to the next level! This class will focus on tried and true methods of blocking an unchoreographed solo piece that will allow fluent and musical solo ringing, based on Nancy Hascall’s famed traveling 4iH techniques. At the end of class you will choreograph a simple piece. Prerequisite: a working knowledge of traveling 4iH.

Bringing the Notes Off the Page presented by Brenda Austin

So you’ve learned the notes, yay! What’s next? This class will focus on the next steps to a beautiful, musical performance. While ringing handbell repertoire in a variety of levels, we will discuss how to bring out and enjoy the musicality within the piece. As well as talk about how directors can prepare their score, and help their ringers play every note musically and how ringers can listen more globally to the entire piece, and not just their two notes.

Can Handbells Jam? presented by Derek Nance

Can handbell ringers rehearse without preparing for a concert? Can groups recruit and train new ringers without holding back the ensemble? In this class we’ll be presenting the findings from the Reno Bell Jam experiment. In the process, we’ll also discuss the broader implications of what it means to be a handbell ensemble and a community of bell ringers.

Can High Fructose Syrup Improve Your Rhythm? presented by Greig Ashurst

Do you have a method for teaching and learning rhythms that reaches everyone.  Using the principles of how people learn language, this course offers a practical approach to learning the fundamental of rhythm and rhythmic notation.  In addition, it present rhythm that is practical to people of all ages.  This course is a

Care & Feeding of Advanced/Advancing Ringers presented by Kevin McChesney

Your ringers are improving! Ideas for keeping advancing ringers challenged and engaged, including thoughts on repertoire, working with the director, ringer’s goals and director’s goals, (and how to get them to match up!), and assignments. And every choir has differences in experience and ability, so we’ll discuss rehearsal techniques and ideas for keeping the advanced ringers involved while bringing everyone else along, too. These ideas will “feed” your advancing ringers while helping directors and the whole choir (plus reduce drama and and help keep the program running smoothly, too.)

Controlling the Chaos presented by Barb Walsh

Running a rehearsal is like herding cats; trying to get 13 independent minded beings all headed in the same direction is challenging!  In this class we’ll discuss rehearsal techniques and conducting tips that will help you wrangle up your cats!

Crafting a Concert presented by Stevie Berryman

You’ve prepared all this music; wouldn’t it be great if people showed up for your concert? Learn proven strategies for concert planning that will take you from concept to curtain call. You already know how to rehearse your music; now learn how to stage a fully engaging performance! The Houston Chamber Ringers are known for their dynamic shows that appeal to that special demographic: non-ringer. Here’s how they do it.

Creatively Using Handbells in Worship presented by Timothy Navis

How many ways can handbells or handchimes be used in worship? This class will brainstorm and discover many possibilities for handbells in worship. From different seasons of the year, to different parts of worship, to different denominations or worship styles; the class will explore all avenues for handbells in worship.

Diminishing Page Turns: The Music Tablet presented by Paul W. Allen

In this demonstration class, RiverBells and its director will reveal the benefits and drawbacks of its one-year-old music tablet project, which replaces paper pages.  The class will feature the technology itself (hardware and software), the cost of the project, alternative elements, legal considerations, and hands-on time with the devices.  Discussions regarding the “new idea” will permeate the 75-minute session.

Doubling Down – Optimum Use of Extended Bass presented by Kathleen Ebling Shaw

Get the most from your bass handbells and chimes B2 and lower with optimal doubling/arranging, assignments and techniques!  This session will address adding lower notes to the score as it’s more than just doubling down the octave, assigning bass instruments to keep your ringers active throughout the score and using a variety of techniques to get the most musical sound from the instruments as well as keeping your ringers healthy.  We’ll also discuss the sound and design differences between handbells and handchimes and give tips on when each instrument should be appropriately used in the score.

Ear Training for Everyone presented by Sandy Mullaney

Join the fun in this “Game Show-Style” class, as we train our musical ears to become skilled at picking out music erros: wrong notes, omited notes, improper techniques and more. Using “An Ear Training Course for Handbell Directors and Ringers” (Fred Merrett) class members will take turns ringing in our class laboratory choir, then step up to spot the errors being rung. You’ll quickly find out that better ear trianing means more efficient rehearsals – yielding more time to work on musicality in your pieces.

Ensemble Techniques 101 presented by Mary Liao

A comprehensive ensemble training course that is designe to help you build a successful handbel ensemble. Learn various ensemble style options (w/without tables), multiple configurations (in/out of keyboard order), sharing of bells & space. Techniques to stretch/increase your abilities: weaving/traveling/air damp/4iH/6iH/belltree/singing bell/bowed chime…etc. This class is design for beginner to intermediate ensembles.

Ensemble Techniques 201 presented by Mary Liao

In depth technique trainings for advanced ensembles. Comprehensive reviews of advanced ensemble music, styles, and techniques. Extensive use of traveling & damping technqiues for 2iH to 4iH to 6iH. Hands on advanced quartet repertoire.

Finale 1: Basics presented by Jason Krug

The Finale music notation software is incredibly flexible and powerful…and fiendishly difficult to master. Whether complete novice or seasoned veteran, there’s something for every user of Finale in this four-class track. Class 1 focuses on entering notes, expressions, and articulations. Class 2 focuses on using Finale specifically to write for handbells. Class 3 deals with page layout and making the final product look its best. Class 4 will be a workshop for attendees to get help with their own Finale conundrums. Participants are encouraged to bring their own computers with any version of Finale to follow along.

Finale 2: Finale for Handbells presented by Jason Krug

The Finale music notation software is incredibly flexible and powerful…and fiendishly difficult to master. Whether complete novice or seasoned veteran, there’s something for every user of Finale in this four-class track. Class 1 focuses on entering notes, expressions, and articulations. Class 2 focuses on using Finale specifically to write for handbells. Class 3 deals with page layout and making the final product look its best. Class 4 will be a workshop for attendees to get help with their own Finale conundrums. Participants are encouraged to bring their own computers with any version of Finale to follow along.

Finale 3: Score Preparation presented by Jason Krug

The Finale music notation software is incredibly flexible and powerful…and fiendishly difficult to master. Whether complete novice or seasoned veteran, there’s something for every user of Finale in this four-class track. Class 1 focuses on entering notes, expressions, and articulations. Class 2 focuses on using Finale specifically to write for handbells. Class 3 deals with page layout and making the final product look its best. Class 4 will be a workshop for attendees to get help with their own Finale conundrums. Participants are encouraged to bring their own computers with any version of Finale to follow along.

Finale 4: Finale Workshop presented by Jason Krug

The Finale music notation software is incredibly flexible and powerful…and fiendishly difficult to master. Whether complete novice or seasoned veteran, there’s something for every user of Finale in this four-class track. Class 1 focuses on entering notes, expressions, and articulations. Class 2 focuses on using Finale specifically to write for handbells. Class 3 deals with page layout and making the final product look its best. Class 4 will be a workshop for attendees to get help with their own Finale conundrums. Participants are encouraged to bring their own computers with any version of Finale to follow along.

Games for Connecting and Growing presented by Sandy Mullaney

What do we gain from playing games with our ringers? Team building and bonding, enhanced energy and focus, specific music concepts and so much more (let’s not forget FUN!) Join in a wide variety of games and acctivities that will bond your choir in new ways and will teach important handbell skills. Adult, youth and children’s choirs will all enjoy and benefit from playing – this is a high-energy participation class!

Grow Your Program presented by Sandy Mullaney

Are you looking to expand your church handbell program beyond one choir? The clinician will lay out a three year plan which has been successful in growing her church’s single choir into an all-age program. Learn a step-by-step plan for adding one or more additional groups in a manageable, user-friendly way. many strategies for recruiting new ringers are included.

Handbells in Modern Worship presented by Brenda Austin

Many of our churches have switched to or added a contemporary/modern worship service. Often the bells have been barred at the door. The question we need to ask is ‘how do we make handbells relevant in a modern worship setting?’! We will discuss adjustments that we need to make in this new paradigm of modern worship.

How Does it Feel? presented by Michael Joy

Many ringers and directors spend too much time trying to decipher notation. Instead, as auther Stanley Schleuter suggests, they need to be developing rhythmic feeling. Using selected examples from handbel repertoire, this hands on class will explore several ways in which one can develop rhythmic feeling so that both directors and ringers can bring a new understanding and a more polished musicianship to performances.

How to Flirt presented by Stevie Berryman

It’s about more than telling them to smile. Learning your music is just the first step in an engaging performance. Once you’ve learned the notes, there’s a non-verbal language you should master to capitivate your audience. You’ll cover topics from “How to Fake It” to “Maintain eye Contact, but Not Like a Psycho.” So…how’s your game? “All performance is flirtation.”

Intro to Conducting presented by David Weck

Just getting started or need a refresher? This class will help you begin, continue, and go the next step in conducting your handbell choir.

Let it Go presented by Barb Walsh

Getting the right bell in the correct hand at the right time is half the battle in ringing.  In this class we’ll practice a sequence of exercises to help you do just that.

Limericks, Lessons, & Life in Handbells presented by Kevin McChesney

Entertaining limirecks and lessons on handbells, lessons that are generally not found or only taught in passing in other classes or events. A fun collection of ideas for a strong program, including: dealing with mistakes, what writers would love for you to know about their music but may never have told you, 9 techniques that guarantee a ringer can master their part, to count or not to count, and many more facets of technique, musicianship, and spirit that you may never have thought of before.

Mallet Techniques (Play Like a Percussionist) presented by Alex Guebert

Handbells are percussion instruments, so we should think like percussionists and use proper mallet technique that is ergonomic and produces the best, most musical tone.  We start by building good habits with fundamentals of technique: proper grip, creating a hinge with the fingers, using gravity as leverage, proper preparatory and follow-through gestures, and more.  By the end of class, you’ll be playing with a sense of musicality and precision, and have all the tools needed to continue your growth as a mallet player. (BRING YOUR OWN MALLETS)

Malmark Maintenance

Review basic maintenance techniques and procedures for Malmark handbells and handchimes

A Modification of the Weave presented by Nancy Jessup

David Davidson said, “We hear what we see.”  Come learn some tools to facilitate those multiple bell passages all of us need to ring at some point.  We will work on maximizing the beauty of sound and fluid movement while enhancing the appearance of effortless performance.  Using specific movements and ringing techniques you can achieve a more musical performance that focuses on the music not the ringer. Come prepared to ring and have fun.

The Nuts and Bolts of Starting a Young Ringers Ensemble presented by Barb Walsh

Whether you’re in a school or church setting, you’ll find this class helpful.  From playing music literacy and cooperative games to choosing literature, we’ll cover the nuts and bolts of starting young ringers.

Overview of Music Theory presented by Ron Mallory

Ever wonder why some pieces have lots of sharps and flats, while others have none? Why the composer chose to write certain notes, and not others? This class will give a broad overview of scales, chords, key signatures, melody, harmony, and more. We’ll also take a look “under the hood” of some well-known handbell pieces to see how and why they work. This is a great introduction for those who may be considering music theory certification courses in the future, or who just want a quick primer on the basics of music theory.

Practicing at Home presented by Ron Mallory

You’ve just finished rehearsing with your handbell group… and it will be another full week before you can touch the instrument again, so there’s no way to practice on your own. It doesn’t have to be this way! There are many ways handbell musicians can practice at home, even if you don’t have your own personal set of bells. This class will be taught from the perspective of both the ringer (tools you can use to practice at home) and the director (resources you can give your ringers to practice from home).

Preventing Injuries for a Lifetime of Music Making presented by Rob Meyer-Kukan

One of our golas as directors, educators, instructors and handbell musicians is to develop “lifelong musicians”. We do this through teaching music concepts, technique, repertoire, performance, practice and more. By learning techniques for healthy music making, coupled with healthy lifestyle practices, we can reduce the chance of injury allowing our bodies the ability to play for a life time. This freedom gives us the opportunity to focus on making music for a greater musical affect.

Programming for the Ringer and the Listener presented by Kathleen Ebling Shaw

Whether you are programming for a concert or the liturgical year, this class is for you!  The repertoire that we choose for our choirs has to meet many needs for our choirs whether we present concerts or lead worship.  One of the goals of a director should be to raise the musicianship and ringing skills of our choir continuously.  Choosing varied and effective repertoire is key to building a strong performing ensemble while at the same time, offering a more profound worship or entertainment experience to the listener is key for continued success.   This class will help you develop a repertoire list that benefits both your ringers and your listeners. #NotAllRepertoireIsMusic

Ringing Articulations – More Than Special Effects presented by Kathleen Ebling Shaw

A variety of ringing techniques makes our music interesting! This hands-on class will survey all of the articulations used in the handbell score and offer tips to optimize the sound of the handbell based on it’s design and allow the ringers to play as musically as possible while keeping them healthy.

The Ringing In of Christmas presented by William Payn

In the mid 1970’s Dr. Payn introduced the Ringing-in-of Christmas to the Presbyterian Church-on-the-Green in Morristown, NJ…home of the Ringers-On-The-Green which he directed at the time. Since then, hundreds of churches throughout the United States have embraced this exciting and uplifting experience to annually ‘ring-in’ Christmas with their handbell choirs. This class will be a ‘hands-on’ experience. Participants will actually learn how to teach their choirs everything they need to know for their joyful celebrations on Christmas eve.

Ringing with Less presented by Blanche Marie Lewis

Would you like to enhance your groups performances with a simple, yet effective and beautiful addition to your regular repertoire? Do you have ringers that always want more and want to do more? Does your attendance fluctuate at different times of the year?  I have the answer for you – 12 bell music! Learn about this growing movement of 12 bell music that allows you to play the same music with a trio, quartet, quintet and sextet.  (And what to do with the extra person that showed up only for the last rehearsal but is determined to ring with the group.)

Roundtable: Certfication Overview presented by Sharon Schmidt

What is Certification?  Why should I be Certified?  What do I have to do?  If you have these or other questions, join the Certification Program Coordinator for an overview of the program, plus a Q&A session and the opportunity to provide feedback.

Roundtable: Composers presented by Jason Krug

Come join several well-known composers from the handbell world for a discussion of all things composing. Bring your thoughts, ideas and questions – everyone is welcome!

Roundtable: K-12 Music Education presented by Michael Joy

This session is designed as a forum for PreK-12 educators or anyone interested in the education process. The discussion topics will be decided by those who attend the session. Possible topics could include curriculum design, teaching strategies which have been successful, literature which teaches and engages students, administrave issues, and any other ideas participants might have.

Roundtable: Solo Ringing

Discussion class, addressing issues unique to performing as a solo ringer. Topics covered include: sparkle or splat presentation, traveling challenges, equipment tips, repertoire ideas, and much more. We’ll share success stories and disasters.

Schulmerich Maintenance presented by

Review basic maintenance techniques and procedures for Schulmerich handbells and handchimes

Score Study presented by Alex Guebert

This class is for those directors and ringers who want to gain a meaningful, full, detailed understanding of the musical score.  Diving deep, we explore form, style, large-scale melodic structure, texture, composers’ intentions, assigning strategies, and more, Ultimately, we aim to improve our understanding of the musical score so that we can express the music itself in the best, most meaningful way.

Sightreading: A Tool Kit for Ringers and Directors presented by Sandy Mullaney

We’ve all heard this: “Just sight read MORE to impor your sight reading.” Are you interested in a setp-by-step approach which gives you the necessary building blocks to truly grow your sight reading ability? Sight reading is a skill that can be learned and continually imporved upon. In this class we look at the specific elements involved in this skill and work to develop them – many classroom exercises will give you a clear road map for growing your confidence and ability in sight reading.

Stretching for Musicians presented by Rob Meyer-Kukan

Stretching is good, when done right. In this class you will learn why to stretch, what to stretch and how to stretch. Demonstration will be given of stretches that are appropriate for before, during and after rehearsal, concert, service or other music making opportunites. Note – participants will be invited (and encouraged) to move and actively participate in the class.

Teaching Teaching presented by Michael Kastner

So you’ve mastered all the ringing techniques and skills and know you would like to teach. But it’s difficult teaching, isn’t it? Come learn teaching skills you will need to teach your full tool kit of techniques to others.

Technology for the Handbell Rehearsal presented by Greig Ashurst

Technology can be integrated into every aspect of a music rehearsal to improve both the efficiency and the aesthetic experience.  This course is designed to give directors and musicians useful tools to implement effective technologies when planning a rehearsal.

There’s More Than One Way to Peel a Banana presented by Michele Sharik

This is a hands-on overview of a variety of assignment strategies. From Allured to Hilty to Ivey to KatSigning and beyond, come try out a bunch of different ways  to assign the bells to ringers.

Traveling Four-in- Hand presented by Linda Krantz

You’ve played a few solos and are getting comfortable with solo ringing. Learn the famed Nancy Hascall method of T4H to take your solos to the next level! The perfect melding of weaving and 4iH, this class will teach you the ins and outs of this important technique for solo musicians. You will learn the basics of the technique as well as practical applications. Prerequisite: a working knowledge of the ring/knock (push) style of 4iH and weaving.

Unpublished Music Reading Sessions presented by Michael Glasgow

Unpublished-Music Reading Sessions are fantastic opportunities for any composer or arranger to hear his or her unpublished creation(s) sightread by a group of people who are kind, constructive, and enthusiastic about handbells, and for ringers and observers to hear the newest creations for the instrument!  Preregistration and attendance are required for presenters. If you wish to ring in the “demonstration choirs,” or just sit in the “gallery” and listen, you DO NOT need to register in advance.  Ringing positions for demonstration choirs will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis, though registered composers will receive a “place at the table” before other ringers.  We will have multiple sets of handbells and chimes, and we will have mallets.

Unraveling Compound Meters presented by Michael Joy

When you see a piece of music in 6/8, do you count it in 6 or do you “feel it” in 2? Are you confused by 9/8 and 12/8? This class will help to unravel the issues presented by compound meter. Using movement, chanting, and other strategies, ringers and directors will learn how to combine what they see on the page with the inherent flow of music in compound meter to achieve a more musical performance.

Using Multimedia in Your Handbell Performance presented by Ron Mallory

Multimedia technology provides exciting opportunities for handbell groups to enhance their concert and worship presentations with recorded backtracks, slideshows, and video. In this class we’ll look at some easy and creative ways to include multimedia elements in handbell performances, and get an overview of the software and equipment involved. It’s not as difficult as you might think, and the possibilities are endless!

Whitechapel Maintenance presented by Kathryn Hughes

Review basic maintenance techniquew and procedures for maintenance of Whitechapel handbells.

You Too Can Write a Processional presented by Michael Joy

Writing your own processional is not an impossible task, but it does take some thought. In the collaborative class, the group will learn about important elements to consider when writing a processional. The participants will give input into a whole class processional, and then break up into smaller groups to create their own unique processional. If you have a laptop with notation software, bring it along.

You Want Me to do What with How Many Part 1 presented by Lynne Marks

Class 1: An introduction to ringing with multiple bells and their techniques, this class will cover how to evaluate a ringer for multiple bell ringing, assigning treble bells, Shelley, 4- in-hand styles, what’s a “sweet spot”?, doubling, and bells with chimes. Hands on practice exercises will be included. Written instructions with pictures will be used for all set ups. Easier to remember what to do when you get home!

You Want Me to do What with How Many Part 2 presented by Lynne Marks

Class 2: Class 1 prerequisite. Advanced instruction for multiple treble bells including; 6-in-hand styles, accidentals, ringing and damping techniques, stopped effects, malleting and last but certainly not least, how to ring with musicality. Come and find out all the “secrets” to ringing multiple treble bells! Bring (2) mallets to class.

National Seminar recharges my batteries like nothing else. It is always one of the highlights of my year!

Michael Joy


Here is your chance to perform in the most magical place on earth, Disneyland®. (Included with Distinctly Teen registration)

News & Announcements

Registration for those who pre-registered will open February 1.

General Registration for Nat'l Seminar, Master Class, and Distinctly Teen will open February 15.

Event Schedules

General Event Schedule Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday

Pre-registration is required for all Seminar classes. To help you plan which classes you wish to take before completing the online registration process, you may download and fill out the following Personal Event Schedule Planner.