Easy Secular Music for Handchimes

There’s no better time to begin a Chime club at your school.  If you are looking for beginning secular music that includes whole, half and quarter notes, we’ve got a list for you!

The resources below include original compositions, transcriptions of light classics and arrangements of folk songs and spirituals for you to include in this year’s repertoire.

All these titles are recommended to be rung on handchimes while caution is given to some to be performed at a moderate tempo or to substitute some articulations with those that can be used with handchimes without causing harm to the instrument.  See our Technique Substitution Chart for further information.

Click the titles below to link to the ChimeWorks webpage for immediate purchase and digital download capability.

Chime Time


In Quietness and Confidence

Theme from Beethoven’s 9th

Jubilee! or Jubilee! (3 – 5 Octaves)

Michael, Row The Boat Ashore

Morning Has Broken or Morning Has Broken (3 – 5 Octaves)

Music of the Masters

Music of the Masters, Vol. 2

My Heart Ever Faithful

Pathways to Musical Ringing, Vol. 2 or Pathways to Musical Ringing, Vol. 2 (3 – 5 Octaves)

Prelude to Sunrise

Processional & Joyful Dance or Processional & Joyful Dance (3 – 5 Octaves)

Processional Celebration

Processional Jubilee

Simple Gifts

Starting Point, Vol. 1 or Starting Point, Vol. 1 (3 – 5 Octaves)

Starting Point, Vol. 2 or Starting Point, Vol. 2 (3 – 5 Octaves)

Tranquil Chimings

One, Two…. Who Knew It Would Be This Easy!

So, you’d like to use handchimes in the general music classroom or children’s choir rehearsal but you’re not quite sure where to start?  We have the solution for you!

Start slowly – choose a folk song which you can teach by rote and has a melody that can be harmonized with two chords.  Once the text and melody are learnt, add handchimes in by having your students accompany their singing with chords.

Do this by distributing one handchime to each student and separate the students by chords having the students holding the common pitch stand in the center.  Practice each chord separately.  Then point to group one or two and practice ringing as indicated.

A chord chart indicating the chord by pitch name or color displayed by projector may also be used.  Simply point to the chord at the appropriate time.  This is a great way to begin teaching eye-hand coordination.  Consider putting Malmark’s colored bands on the handchimes to make chord recognition easier.

Begin to practice singing the song along with the chords indicating which chord is to be rung with the text.  If you don’t have enough handchimes to go around add some non-pitched percussion for added rhythm.  In no time, you’ll have music in a snap – of the wrist that is!

Here are some recommended folk songs from the ChimeWorks website that use two chords:

Eency, Weency Spider

Hava Nagila

Hey, Ho! Nobody Home

Hey, Lidee

O, Music, Sweet Music

Rocky Mountain

Six Little Ducks

Skip To My Lou

Ringing Thanks – Repertoire for Thanksgiving

Autumn is here and Thanksgiving is seven weeks away. If you haven’t already chosen repertoire for the holiday, ChimeWorks has some great ideas for your ensemble.  The popular tunes below have several settings for beginning to intermediate choirs and feature handchimes or handbells alone to arrangements that are more flexible to include percussion, keyboard or optional instrumental and choir parts.  All of the titles listed below are available for immediate purchase and digital download.  Click the links to view sample pages and listen to a recording upon availability.

The Ash Grove (Let All Things Now Living)

2 Octaves, Level 3

2 – 3 Octaves, Level 1


Many and Great

2 – 3 Octaves with Percussion, Level 1

3 – 5 Octaves with Percussion, Level 1

3 – 6 Octaves, Level 2 with Keyboard & Narrator


Now Thank We All Our God (Bach)

4 – 6 Octaves, Level 3 with Keyboard, Optional Brass & Optional Choir


Now Thank We All Our God

2 – 3 Octaves, Level 1+ with Optional Bb or C Instrument

3 – 5 Octaves, Level 1 + with Optional Bb or C Instrument


All Things Bright and Beautiful

2 – 3 Octaves, Level 2


Processional on All Things Bright and Beautiful

3 – 5 Octaves, Level 1


This Is My Father’s World

2 – 3 Octaves, Level 1+ with Flute

3 – 5 Octaves, Level 1+ with Flute

3 – 5 Octaves, Level 3- with Optional Flute, Organ and Congregation

Adding Life to Music When Ringing


We know a being is alive when we check for pulse.  So, it is for music!  Without pulse, music can be dull.

Some think that only music with quicker tempos can be exciting.  This can’t be farther from the truth!  A case in point would be Ravel’s Bolero.  Watch it here.  Yes, it is pulse that brings music to life.  It’s the underlying beats which are strong and weak that add ebb and flow to our sound that makes it so musical, so alive!

We can bring this concept to our ringing ensembles by having them do a couple of things to accent beats.  But before doing so, we have to teach our ringers to feel the music with its stronger and weaker beats so that it is innate.

Teaching about meter initially is a lesson worth the time as it will always remain.  As you introduce different time signatures, be sure to take the time to introduce the stronger and weaker beats.  Having your ringers clap the 4 beats in 4/4 time and give a heavy stomp on beat 1 and a lighter stomp on beat 3 is a great exercise for new musicians.  Follow suit with ¾ time with the stomp only on 1.

Before stressing too many musical points in the handchime or handbell rehearsal, practice the score so that the notes are fairly comfortable.  At that point, the ringers can focus on musical issues rather than struggle with note reading.

One of the easiest ways to bring out the line in a melody is to have your ringers sing it.  Any nonsense syllable like “la” or doo” will be fine if they are unfamiliar with the text.  Your ringers will naturally accent the beats that are important as they sing and it is important that they feel it with their entire body, especially their arms.  The arm motion is the breath support for the chime or bell and will help the melody to be more lyrical.  Encourage the ringers to move in some as they sing stressing the stronger beats.

Pulse is probably more important in the harmonic accompaniment as it carries the melody.  Sometimes, it may be harder to feel.  When rehearsing, separate the melody from the harmony and have those ringing harmony clap when their notes ring, stressing stronger and weaker beats.   Adding a stomp of the foot on the strongest beat will help as well.

Once your ringers are feeling the pulse in the music, there are few things that they can do to bring out the stronger beats.  The obvious one would be a stronger flick of the wrist when ringing.  Plane is important as we ring and holding the instrument higher (between the breast and shoulder) for stronger beats and lower (between the waist and breast) for weaker beats.

These are just a few concepts to consider as you teach your ringers that all beats are not created equal!

Stopped Sounds on Handchimes


Because of their design, handchimes do not lend themselves to all of the special ringing techniques as handbells.  Many of the techniques when performed, could be damaging to the handchime itself in the area of the tines which determines the tuning of the instrument.  The damage is done when the chime tube cracks at the base of the tines, changing the length of the tines.  If the vibrating tine’s length is altered in any way, the pitch is distorted permanently.

A tine generally cracks when it is bent from ringing or malleting with too much force or from using the martellato technique.  Larger tines can also bend when their vibrating cycle is interrupted.  The larger the chime, the lower the pitch and the slower the vibrating cycle.  Playing short, repeated notes on bass chimes will weaken the tines.  Shaking on treble handchimes will weaken the tines.  A rule to follow would be:  the larger the chime, the longer the duration of the note to be played.  Bass chimes should be used for a harmonic support to the handchimes above it – C4 on up.

ChimeWorks® has created the chart below as an easy reference when using special ringing techniques with handchimes:


The Finger Damp is an acceptable technique in creating a stopped sound on a handchime.  The size of the hand and the handchime will dictate who can employ the technique.  The handchime is rung with the finger already in place therefore, the vibrating cycle is not interrupted.

Finger Damp (TD)

Slide the forefinger to the top area of the handchime and place the finger pad in the center of the tine slot and ring the chime. 

This should result in pitch with little resonance. 

The size of the handchime will determine if more than one finger is needed to properly execute the technique.






While we would like handchimes to be a full replacement for handbells, it is not possible because of the design and material of the instruments.  We encourage you to embrace the unique qualities of handchimes and use their strengths in choosing repertoire and determining when to substitute them for handbells:

  • A strong fundamental pitch with fewer overtones creates a richer sound quality which is why we love to use them for slow moving harmonies.
  • Chimes are ethereal. Because aluminum is a softer metal, handchimes are more mellow in color.  This is also the cause of handchimes being slower to “speak” than handbells and why slower tempos are recommended.
  • A pure, intense tone is created by handchimes which resonates through more complex tonal sounds making them perfect to solo a melodic line.




Recorder and Handchimes Together

Look no further for lesson plans using recorder and handchimes!  As music educators, we try to engage as many students as possible in our classroom with hands-on music making.  Adding handchimes and non-pitched percussion with recorders is a sure-fire way to heat things up!

With ChimeWorks’ chordal lesson plans, students will learn to harmonize the melodies they sing by ringing the accompanying chords on handchimes.  Non-pitched percussion can be improvised to add more rhythmic interest. You might consider doubling the melody on recorder by assigning it to some of your more accomplished students.

Do you have favorite recorder melodies?  Consider adding basic chords to the score and have some of your students join in with handchimes.  The handchimes will add a rich, harmonic accompaniment that will serve as an in-tune foundation for your little pipers!  Consider sharing your successful lesson plans with others by submitting them here.

Here are some ChimeWorks lesson plans that will surely create some pipe dreams:

Old MacDonald Had a Farm

Tallis Canon


Michael, Row the Boat Ashore

Amazing Grace

Scarborough Fair

Peace Like a River

Happy Birthday

Keep It Simple In September


It’s late summer and church choirs are beginning the new program year.  You may be starting a ringing program, resurging one that took a gap or continuing the ministry with a mix of experienced and new ringers.  This week’s tips will help you choose repertoire to get you started this season!

For new members, the art of ringing can be daunting – ringing, damping, arm motion, reading the score, etc. –  there is so much to think about!  Giving your ringers the opportunity to coordinate all of this with easier music will provide them with a strong foundation.

Likewise, after a few months off from ringing, it may be a good time to start anew with easier music to give your seasoned ringers a chance to review proper ringing techniques and your newest ringers an opportunity to get acclimated.

Easier music also provides the prospect of starting the year out with great success.   The choir will add to the Service with their talents and by raising their gifts and the experience will be a worshipful one for the ringers as they will be more relaxed with a simpler score.  Giving our ringers a positive experience will give them more satisfaction and a continued desire to be part of the music ministry.

Below are some pieces that come highly recommended for your consideration.  All of which are available for immediate purchase and digital download on the ChimeWorks website.

Blessed Assurance  (2 -3 Octaves) or  (3 – 5 Octaves)

Breathe On Me, O, Breath of God (2 – 3 Octaves) or (3 – 5 Octaves) 

Come, Christinas, Join To Sing (2 – 3 Octaves) or (3 – 5 Octaves)

God Himself Is With Us

Morning Has Broken (2 – 3 Octaves) or (3 – 5 Octaves)

Morning Hymn

Oh, Worship The King

Peaceful Blessing



Two Halves Make a Whole

Starting a new ringing ensemble with music that includes whole notes and half notes is recommended for the first rehearsals.  If you are directing a new group this year, you’ll want your music choices to include simpler rhythms in a moderate tempo so that your new ringers can focus on developing their ringing skills even if they are seasoned music readers.

Your ringers will have great success in playing homophonic music in which they will have the support of the group as they advance from chord to chord.  Giving them the opportunity as they work as a team in ringing and damping together will be positive reinforcement.  Musical results will be achieved as they coordinate their arm motion with the chordal ringing. Longer notes will also help develop to music literacy for pre-readers as well as eye and hand coordination.

If your new group includes those new to music-making – you will welcome the ability to teach them basic note values with resources that progress systematically.  We’ve been busy at ChimeWorks compiling some suggestions (all available for immediate purchase and digital download) for you which will get your program off to ringing success:

A Simple Prayer (Soliloquy) by Linda R. Lamb

Prelude to Sunrise by Sandra Eithun

Tranquil Chimings by Sandra Eithun

Starting Point, Volume 2 ( 2- 3 Octaves) by Sandra Eithun

Starting Point, Volume 2 (3 – 5 Octaves) by Sandra Eithun

Pathways to Musical Ringing, Volume 2 (2 – 3 Octaves) by Sandra Eithun & Michael Joy

Pathways to Musical Ringing, Volume 2 (3 – 5 Octaves) by Sandra Eithun & Michael Joy


Tips for Choosing Repertoire for Beginners

It’s hard to believe it’s late June – have your thoughts taken you to planning the program year?  If you are starting a new handchime ensemble this fall, here are some tips to help you choose the appropriate repertoire for your beginning group:


  • Be sure to check the Handbells (Handchimes) Used Chart.  Use music that remains in the key that it is written and does not use any extra or accidental handchimes. This insures that each ringer will have no more than two diatonic pitches to ring so that they don’t have to tackle any handchime changes.


  • Choose music that is homophonic (chordal) in texture so that your ringers will have the support of each other as they progress through the score. Independent lines are not desirable for beginning ringers.  Ringing together in chords avails your ensemble to the support of the team.


  • Keep the tempos moderate while your ringers develop their eye and hand coordination. As a director, you are asking your ringers to do a lot – ring the notes accurately, damp when needed, move their arms to produce a more legato line and so much more.  Slower tempos will allow your ringers to think through the process.


  • Simple rhythms are best! Choose music that is based on whole notes, half notes and quarter notes.  No subdividing the beat at first.


  • Stick with the basics of ringing and damping. There is plenty of time to teach different techniques.  In the beginning, it is important to develop a strong foundation in ringing style by moving the instruments through the duration of the beat and damping.  Once this is mastered, go to the next step with articulations.


If you are not sure how to begin in choosing music, visit our Handchime Ensembles page on the ChimeWorks website and filter the Difficulty choices to Levels 1-, 1 and 1+.  There you will find titles of interest and click further to view sample pages and hear a recording.  Click here to view the Starting Point resource as shown above.


With these resources, planning will be easy and you may find time to fit in another vacation before the new year begins!

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