Let Freedom Ring


Looking for some ideas to celebrate The USA during your summer music-making fun?  We have some suggestions for you that will ring out during your celebrations:


Sing and Ring:

ChimeWorks has some suggestions for pre-readers of any age.  Teach a basic song and add in chords or harmonic patterns taught without the printed score!


Teach these patriotic gems and harmonize them with basic chords indicated by using a chart:


America The Beautiful

Learning simple patterns by rote, pre-readers will be able to accompany this
camp favorite:


For older youth and adults try these Ring & Sing favorites – Pass out a text sheet with the appropriate handchime, have participants sing –  when a word is circled they ring their handchime and when it is underlined, they damp.

The Star-Spangled Banner

America the Beautiful II

Music Literacy:

Introduce the steps to music literacy to pre-readers by teaching eye-hand coordination using our Icon chart and be dandy:

Yankee Doodle

With these patriotic lesson plan favorites, summer will be a blast!

Summer: Ringing Options with Fewer Ringers

It’s finally summer and the program year has come to a rest; however some may be busy preparing special music for Sunday services, teaching a summer music class or maybe you ring and just can’t get enough! Don’t disregard ringing over the summer just because rehearsals have ended and your musicians have scattered in different directions.  There are resources available for fewer ringers and some of them won’t even require a lot of rehearsal!  Consider the readily available options below on the ChimeWorks website under Handchime Ensembles, each title is available for immediate purchase with digital download.

For lower intermediate ringers, consider twelve bell music.  The resources that we are recommending require you to own a three octave set of handchimes or handbells and the 12 note range is from F5 to C7.  The arrangements themselves have no chime or bell changes and can be rung without tables.  These collections lend themselves to little rehearsal and can be put together quickly for a summer occasion.

All Praise to Thee, Vol 1

All Praise to Thee, Vol 2

Classical Favorites for Twelve Bells

Spirituals for Twelve Bells

Hymns for Twelve Bells

Five Hymns for Twelve Bells

With most ringing ensembles, there are varied skills within a group.  Summertime is a great time to challenge the more advanced ringers that you have by offering them pieces arranged for 5, 6, or 7 ringers.  In the arrangements below, a minimum of two octaves (G4 – G6) of instruments are needed and arranged for a minimum of five ringers.   Depending on the skills of your ringers, these arrangements can be put together quickly or they are a summer project with results being shared on Rally Sunday.


Land of Rest

Holy Manna

When Morning Gilds the Skies

One more option would be solo ringing.  Maybe you love to ring and can’t get others together to ring in an ensemble.  Consider covering the melody yourself and ask your favorite accompanist to join you.  Cathy Moklebust has adapted several of her most popular works for use by the handbell soloist.  These solos are easily adapted to handchimes.  Her husband David has created keyboard accompaniments, which are also available electronically for use in either practice or performance.  The seven solos in this first collection are very accessible, and encompass various seasons of the church year.  A pull-out soloist’s book is included.

Easy Favorites for the Handbell Soloist is a collection of solos that will take your ringing to the next level and keep you busy during these longer days of summer.  You’ll feel great in the fall when you reflect on all you’ve accomplished and being lazy was not how you spent your days!

Using the Appropriate Ringing Techniques with Handchimes

At ChimeWorks, we are reviewing handbell pieces that may be played on handchimes effectively.  All the titles which we recommend under Handchime Ensembles have been reviewed and approved for handchime use.  Under the product description, you may find a note of Caution which means that either the work should be played a bit slower than the suggested tempo to eliminate the percussive sounds that handchimes can make if rung too quickly or that there is a technique used in the score that is not recommended to be used with handchimes.

Not all ringing techniques and articulations that are performed on handbells may be performed on handchimes due to handchime design and the stresses that may be put on the tines of the handchime tube.  The following techniques that may be used are:  Ring, Damp, Finger Damp, Gyro, LV, Swing, Vibrato and a Mallet Strike (while the handchime is held) in the air.

Some ringing techniques cannot be used with handchimes either because they are damaging to the instrument or the handchime design does not allow the technique to be properly executed. We’ve created the chart below for easy reference in substituting ringing techniques on handchimes:

Click here to learn more about ringing techniques on handchimes.

Using Colors to Teach Music – Some Things to Consider

Mention colors and music notation among two or more music teachers and a debate will surely ensue. Proponents of using color coded music believe that the method is a surefire way of having instant success in making music while opponents may see it as dumbing down. Walking the center line may be the safest stand on this subject; here are a few considerations on the subject regarding handchimes and ringing along with suggestions for experiencing the best of both worlds.

As proponents of using colors to teach music literacy, we are very sensitive to those who cannot see color or experience color vision deficiency. About 8% of males and .5% of females experience this deficiency. Therefore, we advocate using colors along with a second method in all lesson plans. For instance, if using a color to indicate pitch also use a shape as a secondary indicator as used in the ChimeWorks Icon Chart.

Using Colors with Lesson Plans in the General Music Classroom or Choral Rehearsal
Colors are familiar and easily recognizable to most which makes them a great precursor to music notation to teach eye-hand coordination as well as tracking from left to right for pre-readers. One color may indicate a pitch as in using icons or it can signify a chord for creating harmonies while accompanying a melody. These methods are used by having a central focal point for the children to follow as indicated by the music leader. The use of an interactive whiteboard or projection is highly recommended.

When introducing music notation, a simple melody using colored note heads helps to simplify finding the correct space and line to follow on the staff. Once the concept of locating a specific pitch on the staff is taught, eliminating colors is encouraged.

Attaching a colored band to a handchime is an accessible means of designating an instrument to the appropriate pitch or chord. These functional bands are easily wrapped around the handchime tube, are effortlessly removed and can be reused.

Creating resources using colors is simple with the use of a computer. While working with Chroma-NotesTM notation in Finale PRINTMUSIC® is the simplest method of producing colored music notation, general resources can be produced in word processor software. An important aspect of creating resources is that you keep the colors and symbols consistent when assigning them to pitches. Using the ChimeWorks Icon Chart as referenced above, allows you to maintain uniformity when using available resources in the marketplace as well as creating your own.

Using Colors with the Handchime Ensemble
Long a source of debate in the ringing world is marking the handchime/handbell score. While these instruments are a great tool to teach music at any age and countless youth and adults have been able to learn music skills by ringing in a handchime/handbell ensemble, there has been contention along the way.

Early in the handbell movement, indicating when to ring the instrument in a particular hand was indicated by a circle around the note head often in red and blue. Through the years, experience taught us that using a circle may not be the best indicator as the marking distorted the score by blocking the purpose of a particular note head be it melody, counter-melody or harmony. Gradually, highlighters came into play. With the use of highlighters in two consistent colors for example, yellow for left hand and pink for right hand, the note will be designated without obstructing its purpose and any other markings such as dynamics, articulations or techniques.

While using highlighters to indicate notes in a score, the ringer can be trained to locate their assigned pitches and with standard handchime/handbell assignments, know that their left hand is ringing the pitch on the space and their right hand, the one on the line. It can, sometimes, be difficult to ween a ringer off the use of color coding a score. Adults have more difficulty losing this crutch than children, however, the ultimate goal is to use ringing as a tool to teach music literacy and to nurture musicians of all ages.

VBS – Sing, Ring and Rejoice!



Summer is almost here and as a musician that may mean your annual VBS responsibilities are right around the corner.  As you study the music, text and gestures that go along with the songs of this year’s curriculum, don’t forget about the traditional songs that have been carried through generations and better yet, don’t forget your handchimes.


If your Worship style is more traditional, children will most likely welcome the change of the more contemporary and upbeat songs that are included in most VBS packages.  Having the opportunity to sing along with the rock-like soundtracks and put their best foot forward with the accompanying moves will certainly add delight to each day.


It is my experience that the older children (Grades 3 – 6) excel at the packaged music programs of VBS.  The younger children struggled a bit as the melodies were sometimes outside their singing range, rhythms were a little difficult and some of the text was too complicated to catch by rote and memorize quickly.  I found that I would still use the curricular music with the younger children for rhythmic and movement activities but went back to the traditional songs of my own childhood as a supplement for singing and ringing.


Using the more traditional Bible songs helped me be a more effective teacher during that special week of summer for several reasons.  I could pick and choose appropriate songs for the age with which I was working controlling the pitch range, the amount of text and the message.  While any onlooker would think that I was just teaching songs of Christian life, I actually had a captured audience of music-makers who learned all about matching pitch, breath control, phrasing and most importantly, were able to combine their bodies, minds, spirits and voices to sing and rejoice! as eloquently taught by Helen Kemp.


Adding handchimes into the mix for the older children took it all to a new level.  While the traditional Bible songs are familiar to some and not as challenging, adding percussion, handchimes and Orff-style instruments opened a whole new world to the children who are not actively involved my choir program and was a great recruitment tool.  The children welcomed the opportunity to make music by an alternate method in addition to singing.  The accessible chords and ostinati taught accompanied our songs and carried them to a higher level musically and spiritually.


Consider using some of the following lesson plans from ChimeWorks in your VBS classroom this summer as you train our future church leaders to sing, ring and rejoice!


LP00006         Amazing Grace

LP00007         Amazing Grace

LP00010         Simple Gifts

LP00012         Kum-Bah-Yah

LP00031         Kum-Bah-Yah

LP00038         For Health and Strength

LP00041         Peace Like a River

LP00046         Tallis Canon

LP00064         Michael, Row the Boat Ashore

LP00095         Good and Joyous

LP00097         Alleluia Round

LP00098         Jubilate Round