Handchimes and Black History Month

 

February 1st is just around the corner and the observance of Black History Month arrives with it.  To celebrate and educate about this rich cultural heritage, a great resource can be found in the African American Spiritual, perhaps the most significant type of American folk song.  By teaching the history, text and tunes of Spirituals we can impart a deeper understanding and awareness of this part of American culture.

Understanding the history of Spirituals and the different types will help those singing and listening have a greater understanding.  An informative synopsis produced by the Library of Congress offers a deeper look into this art form and can be found in the article, African American Spirituals.  We suggest that a brief history and explanation of the type of Spiritual being performed be shared with your students and audience to offer them a greater connection to what is being presented.

Using handchimes, we can introduce Spirituals in a number of ways.  Some of these resources include singing and some do not; either way, we recommend that the text and melody be taught by rote first to insure a deeper understanding of the song and its original use before introducing the handchime parts or score.

The resources below can be found on the ChimeWorks website and are available for immediate purchase and digital download.

Handchimes in the General Music Classroom or Choral Rehearsal 

Kum-Bah-Yah (Chords)

  • Use:Sacred
  • Level:K – 2, 3 – 6
  • Chords:3
  • Topic:Praise, Spiritual
  • Language:English
  • Origin:African American Spiritual

Students will harmonize the song by ringing chords when indicated either by chart or color.

 

Kum-Bah-Yah (Ring & Sing)

  • Use:Sacred
  • Level:3 – 6
  • Topic:Praise, Spiritual
  • Language:English
  • Origin:African American Spiritual

Students will harmonize the song by reading the text and ringing when a word is outlined and damping when it is underscored.

Come by here is the translation of Kum-bah-yah.  This song has been passed down by mouth and has become a favorite of camps and meeting places.  Originally, it was sung by those in need.

 

Michael, Row the Boat Ashore

  • Use:Sacred, Secular
  • Level:K – 2, 3 – 6
  • Type:Chords
  • Chords:3
  • Topic:Spiritual
  • Language:English
  • Origin:America

Students will harmonize the song by ringing chords when indicated either by chart or color.

Michael Row the Boat Ashore is an African American Spiritual first noted during the Civil War.

 

Peace Like a River

  • Use:Sacred, Secular
  • Level:K – 2, 3 – 6
  • Type:Chords
  • Chords:3
  • Topic:Peace, Spiritual
  • Language:English
  • Origin:African American Spiritual

Students will harmonize the song by ringing chords when indicated either by chart or color.

Peace Like A River is an African American Spiritual.  The first three items of the “fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22) are love, joy, and peace. This spiritual compares the peace of God to a placidly flowing river, the joy of Christ to a merrily bubbling fountain, and the love of God to a deep, wide ocean.

 

From Singing to Ringing

  • Author/Composer/Arranger:Karen Thompson
  • Use:Sacred
  • Octaves Used – Select One:2 – 3 Octaves
  • Level:Level 1, Level 2
  • Topic:General
  • Origin:African American Spiritual
  • Use Caution with Techniques and/or Tempo:Caution

From Singing to Ringing is a valuable resource for teaching and reinforcing some basic, yet essential, music skills needed to ring handbells. Keeping a steady beat and visually tracking music from beat to beat (and measure to measure) are important skills that handbell ringers must accomplish to be successful. The conventional approach to aid in learning these two skills in a handchime/handbell setting is counting aloud by director and/or ringers. From Singing to Ringing serves the same purpose as counting aloud, but in a more enjoyable and engaging way.  Additionally, rhythms are easier to perform and internalize when sung. If they can sing it, they can ring it!

 

For the Handchime Ensemble

Five Spirituals

  • Author/Composer/Arranger:Bill Ingram
  • Use:Sacred
  • Octaves Used – Select One:2 – 3 Octaves
  • Level:Level 1, Level 1+
  • Topic:General
  • Origin:African American Spiritual
  • Use Caution with Techniques and/or Tempo:Caution

Bill Ingram continues the popular level one series with five attractive spirituals. One or two move into the level 1+ rating, offering good teaching opportunities while providing satisfying ringing experiences. These will be useful for school, church or concert venues.

 

Morning Songs

  • Author/Composer/Arranger:Bill Ingram
  • Use:Sacred
  • Octaves Used – Select One:2 – 3 Octaves
  • Level:Level 1
  • Topic:General
  • Origin:African American Spiritual, Ireland

Here is a set of three familiar melodies that share the theme of morning. The titles included are “Jesus in the Morning,” “Morning Has Broken,” and “My Lord, What a Morning.” The graduating levels of difficulty of the pieces make this set an ideal selection for the developing ensemble. Since the melodies are familiar, these are excellent teaching pieces to help ringers identify them on the page and work to bring them out when ringing. Because of their versatility, you may find yourself pulling these out every year.

 

Spirituals for Twelve Bells

  • Author/Composer/Arranger:Bill Ingram
  • Use:Sacred, Secular
  • Octaves Used – Select One:12 Note, Small Ensemble
  • Level:Level 2, Level 2+
  • Topic:General, Spiritual
  • Origin:African American Spiritual

As the volume of literature for 12 bells or chimes in F continues to grow, this collection of spirituals will be a welcome addition. The spirituals, listed below, range from lively and bold to reflective and meditative.  With no bell changes (thus no tables needed) there will be many opportunities to use these arrangements.  Contents:  Lord, I Want to Be a Christian; Steal Away; Great Day!; There Is a Balm in Gilead; Every Time I Feel the Spirit

Favorite Handchime Pieces for Lent

Looking for a special piece for Lent that will provide your ringers with a worshipful experience?    At ChimeWorks, we have searched our product store for the most meaningful Lenten pieces that are our favorites.   The recommendations below range from Levels 1 to 3 and include traditional and contemporary classics.  Surely, there is something for everyone on our list!

When choosing repertoire, keep in mind the strengths and weaknesses of your choir such as “chime” changes and complex rhythms, etc.  Also, choose music that they can be prepared comfortably in the amount of rehearsal time involved.  Ringing an easier piece beautifully is more satisfying to the ringer and listener than struggling through a more difficult piece.  If your ringers are relaxed while they ring, they will be able to focus on the message and beauty of the selection.

All of the music below is available for immediate purchase and digital download on the ChimeWorks site:

 

Oh Love, How Deep (3 Octaves)

  • Author/Composer/Arranger: Bruce W. Tippette
  • Level: Level 1+

This sturdy hymn tune serves well to set the tone for worship during the Lenten season. It opens with a simple statement of the melody and slowly evolves into an expanded voicing of the original hymn, utilizing LV arpeggios across the ensemble between verses.

 

O the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus (3 – 5 Octaves)

  • Author/Composer/Arranger: Ludwig Van Beethoven arr. Linda R. Lamb
  • Level: Level 1+

Linda Lamb has combined portions of Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” with the hymn tune EBENEZER to create this charming Level 1+ piece. The tune EBENEZER is associated with a variety of other hymn texts including “Once to Every Man and Nation.”

 

What Wondrous Love Is This (2 – 3 Octaves)   (3 – 5 Octaves)

  • Author/Composer/Arranger: Susan Geschke
  • Level: Level 1+

This tender setting of the beloved Appalachian folk song may be played by either handbells or handchimes. With minimal bell changes and easy techniques such as shake and echo, this piece provides an excellent opportunity for expressive, sensitive ringing. This arrangement is especially effective during Lent and Holy Week or any time of quiet meditation.

 

Sheep May Safely Graze (2 – 3 Octaves)

  • Author/Composer/Arranger: J. S. Bach arr. Sharon Elery Rogers
  • Level: Level 2-

This gently flowing music is based on one of Bach’s most beautiful, haunting tunes. It is often heard as a choral anthem or a vocal or organ solo. With the constant ringing of solid chords building to a crescendo in the middle section, the use of a few techniques such as TD, mallets, or SK (with vibrato when rung by handchimes) are sprinkled throughout to reach a forte climax. The piece then closes with a more subdued ending.

 

Lamb of God with There Is a Redeemer (3 – 5 Octaves)

  • Author/Composer/ArrangerMelody Green, Twila Paris arr. Peggy Bettcher
  • Level: Level 2

Two contemporary classics are set together beautifully in this arrangement.

 

My Jesus, I Love Thee (3 – 6 Octaves)

  • Author/Composer/Arranger: Brenda Austin
  • Level: Level 2

Brenda Austin gives us a heartfelt and expressive arrangement of the beloved 19th century hymn. A straight-forward setting of the hymn serves as a contrasting middle section.

 

Pie Jesu (3 – 5 Octaves)

  • Author/Composer/Arranger: Andrew Lloyd Webber arr. Douglas E. Wagner
  • Level: Level 2

This beautiful setting from Webber’s Requiem will be a favorite for your ringers and audience.  It is perfect for beginning ringers as it has no “bell” changes.

 

Nearer, My God to Thee (3 – 5 Octaves)

  • Author/Composer/Arranger: Susan Geschke
  • Level:  2

Rising like a gentle prayer, this expressive setting of an old favorite is fresh and memorable. Lush legato ringing creates an elegant beauty that will linger in listeners’ hearts long after the final notes fade away.

 

My Song Is Love Unknown (3 – 7 Octaves)

  • Author/Composer/Arranger: John Ireland arr. Cathy Moklebust
  • Level: Level 2+
  • Options: Oboe or other C Instrument

This arrangement of English composer John Ireland’s tune LOVE UNKNOWN has been enhanced with an original melody and an optional oboe counter melody.  A minor key in the second verse creates a solemn mood befitting the passion of Jesus. The final verse is triumphant, and features a soaring oboe descant.

 

Walking with Jesus (3 – 6 Octaves)

  • Author/Composer/Arranger:  H. Dean Wagner
  • Level: Level 3

“Walking with Jesus” combines three hymns: “I Want Jesus to Walk with Me” (SOJOURNER), “O Master, Let Me Walk with Thee” (MARYTON) and “Come, O Thou Traveler Unknown” (CANDLER.) This meaningful arrangement takes us on a journey of faith with our Savior through the valleys and mountains of life, and ends in the serene peace of heaven.

Budget-friendly Ringing Collections for Lent and Easter

Lent is right around the corner and if you haven’t begun to plan, now is the time! It’s always fun to shop for music at the beginning of a new budget year as you are not feeling the pressure of eliminating your resources. One smart way of stretching your budget dollars throughout the year is to purchase collections which offer a variety of music bundled together at a discounted price.

With the thought of Lent, Holy Week and Easter happening over the next three months, we offer the considerations below to get you through this holy time. Many of the resources suggested require one copy to be purchased with unlimited photocopying for your organization’s use. For those collections that require a minimum purchase of five, the understanding is that you will order as many copies as you plan to use for your ensemble. For example, a three octave choir with 11 ringers often uses 7 copies – one for the director and the other 6 copies in binders shared by ringers. Licenses are non-transferrable.

All of the suggestions below are available for immediate purchase and digital download on the ChimeWorks site. No waiting and no shipping charges!

 

All Glory and Praise (2 – 3 Octaves)  (3 – 5 Octaves)
• Author/Composer/Arranger: Dan R. Edwards
• Level: Level 2, Level 2+
• Topic: Easter, General, Lent, Palm Sunday, Pentecost
• Use Caution with Techniques and/or Tempo: Caution

Tune sources: American spiritual; ST. THEODULPH; ELLACOMBE; EASTER HYMN; Jean Sibelius; Camille Saint-Saëns; BROTHER JAMES’ AIR; MORECAMBE • Contents: Jesus Walked This Lonesome Valley, Palm Sunday Processional (with All Glory, Laud and Honor and Hosanna, Loud Hosanna); Easter Triumph (incorporating Christ the Lord Is Risen Today); The Lord Is My Shepherd; Spirit of God, Descend Upon My Heart • Levels 2 and 2+ • Ring in the spring with this collection of seasonal favorites carefully selected to highlight Palm Sunday, Easter, as well as other special Sundays in the spring. The selections will be meaningful additions to worship, and can be mastered with minimal rehearsal time.

 

All Things Bright and Beautiful (2 – 3 Octaves)  (3 – 5 Octaves)
• Author/Composer/Arranger: Cathy Moklebust
• Level: Level 1+, Level 2, Level 2+
• Topic: Christmas, Communion, Easter, General, Lent, Palm Sunday
• Use Caution with Techniques and/or Tempo: Caution

Cathy Moklebust’s reproducible collection contains several well-known hymn tune arrangements and original compositions for use during various seasons of the church year. Two of the pieces include instrumental parts. Published in compatible editions for 2-3 and 3-5 octaves, this budget-stretching reproducible collection will be a great addition to the libraries of church handbell choirs. Contents: All Things Bright and Beautiful; All Glory, Laud and Honor; God, Who Stretched the Spangled Heavens (Brethren, We Have Met to Worship); Calming Peace (Prayer for Kristin); Thee We Adore, O Hidden Savior; Kyrie, Processional on All Glory, Laud and Honor; Now the Green Blade Rises (Sing We Now of Christmas); Christ the Lord Is Risen Today (From the East the Donkey Came)

 

God Reigns, Let Earth Be Glad (2 – 3 Octaves)  (3 – 5 Octaves)

• Author/Composer/Arranger: Anna Laura Page, Bill Ingram, Cathy Moklebust, Kevin McChesney, Sandra Eithun
• Level: Level 1, Level 1+, Level 2
• Topic: General, Lent, Pentecost
• Use Caution with Techniques and/or Tempo: Caution

The collection will be excellent for developing choirs as well as more experienced groups who need music they can learn quickly. Includes: Fairest Lord Jesus; Blessed Assurance; This Is My Father’s World; Lamb of God, Most Holy and Christians, We Have Met to Worship (Holy Spirit, Ever Dwelling
Tune sources: CRUSADER’S HYMN; ASSURANCE; TERRA PATRIS; O LAMM GOTTES, UNSCHULDIG; HOLY MANNA

 

Keep It Simple 2 (2 Octaves)  (3 Octaves)

• Author/Composer/Arranger: Lloyd Larson
• Level: Level 1
• Topic: General, Lent, Praise, Transfiguration
• Use Caution with Techniques and/or Tempo: Caution

Lloyd Larson’s successful series Keep It Simple was created with the beginning choir in mind, these are readily accessible arrangements now available in both a new 2-octave version, and a 3-octave version. Full, lush and dynamic chords characterize these carol and hymn settings. Each selection is ideal for lesser experienced groups as well as ensembles needing to prepare selections with limited preparation time.

 

Ring and Sing the Seasons (3 Octaves)

• Author/Composer/Arranger: Karen Lakey Buckwalter
• Octaves Used – Select One: 3 Octaves
• Level: Level 1, Level 1+
• Topic: Christmas, Easter, General, Lent, Palm Sunday
• Options: Voice

Ring and Sing the Seasons is a reproducible collection comprised of both seasonal and general use hymn arrangements. The arrangements feature very simple rhythms and chords for handbells or handchimes, and unison vocal parts. Also included is an original processional, composed of layered ostinato patterns, with alternate texts for General, Christmas, Palm Sunday and Easter use. In her preface, Karen Lakey Buckwalter writes, “Having served 38 years in full time music ministry, I realized some of the most joyful moments were convincing choirs of all ages that they could ring and sing simultaneously.” One also has the option of having a soloist or vocal choir sing the hymn tune accompanied by the handbell or handchime choir. Separate vocal pages are included for the convenience of non-ringing singers. Contents: The Bells of Christmas; Christians, We Have Met to Worship; God, Who Made the Earth and Heaven; He Is Born; I Want Jesus to Walk with Me; Processional; That Easter Day with Joy Was Bright; This Is My Father’s World

 

Ring Around the Year (3 – 5 Octaves)

• Author/Composer/Arranger: Anna Laura Page, Cathy Moklebust, Kevin McChesney, Margaret R. Tucker, Sondra K. Tucker, Susan Geschke, Valerie W. Stephenson
• Level: Level 2
• Topic: Advent, All Saints/All Souls, Baptism, Christmas, Easter, General, Lent, Palm Sunday, Pentecost, Thanksgiving
• Use Caution with Techniques and/or Tempo: Caution

“Ring Around the Year” provides wonderful handchime music for use throughout the year. Most of the pieces are also suitable for general, non-seasonal use. The seven titles in this collection are written for 3, 4, or 5 octaves. This reproducible collection is designed to meet the needs of handchime choirs by helping to stretch their music budgets. With the purchase of this collection, the original purchasing organization (church, school, or community ensemble) is granted permission to make copies as needed for their ringers.

 

Reproducible Rings II

(2 – 3 Octaves)  (3 – 5 Octaves)

• Author/Composer/Arranger: Lloyd Larson
• Level: Level 2
• Topic: Easter, Holy Week, Lent, Patriotic, Pentecost, Transfiguration

Arranged with the volunteer handbell ringer in mind, these eight hymn settings by Lloyd Larson are quickly learned and ready to perform with limited preparation time. Engaging settings of familiar hymn tunes guarantee broad appeal to both ringers and listeners. Includes: Ah, Holy Jesus; All Glory, Laud and Honor; America The Beautiful, Fairest Lord Jesus, I Know That My Redeemer Lives; Spirit of God, Descend Upon My Heart; The Day of Resurrection and What Wondrous Love Is This

 

Music Literacy in a Snap with Colors and Handchimes

A great New Year’s resolution for any teacher would be to introduce music literacy to more in 2018.  If you have handchimes at your disposal, teaching music reading with the help of colors couldn’t be simpler! At ChimeWorks, we have developed tools for teaching young children to develop eye-hand coordination using colors and symbols and then, systematically moving on to colored-coded notes on the staff and ultimately reading handchime/handbell notation.

We begin by using colors that are closely correlated to those used in Boomwhacker® and KidsPlay® systems.  Therefore, one will be able to use our lesson plans with handchimes and/or Boomwhackers and KidsPlay bells to teach music literacy.  Sensitivity is given to the use of colors alone due to the statistics that 1 in 12 males and 1 in 200 females suffer from color vision deficiency.  Along with a select color for each pitch we have allocated a shape modeled closely to those used in shape-note singing.

Coupled, these symbols are referred to as Icons – non-traditional symbols used to notate music.   They allow students to quickly “read” music without the worry of not knowing standard musical notation.   They also allow students to quickly express themselves at an early-learner stage with known symbols rather than struggling with music notation.  The use of icons develops eye-hand coordination rapidly allowing students to quickly adapt to numbers, pitch names, solfege and then standard music notation.

ChimeWorks has developed Colored Bands which can be wrapped around the handchime tube so that each student can identify a pitch with a color.  In the case of vision deficiency, the shape may also be drawn on to the band.  These bands are available for Malmark, Inc. and be found by clicking here.  Colored bands can be an effective tool in the classroom when denoting pitches and chords.  Using the ChimeWorks Icon Chart, each pitch is assigned a color.  By wrapping the appropriate colored band around the shaft of the handchime tube at the base, you can effectively indicate which handchimes are assigned to pitches or chords.

Since icons are used with non-music readers, they can be utilized with younger children.  These same children may not yet be literate and understand how to track from left to right.  We suggest that great success will be met when the icon chart is presented through a computer-generated slideshow presentation or interactive whiteboard so that the teacher may point to each shape tracking for the students in tempo and rhythm.

Once the students master the melody using icons, they may continue with the Chroma-note® (colored note head) score. Older students may meet success by just having the location of the pitch on the staff on the note designation label which is standard on all brands of handchimes and may be able to move quickly to the handchime score which is in standard music notation.

Icon lesson plans may be found here on the ChimeWorks website.  By introducing these easy to teach lessons, your students will color their world with music through handchimes.