Taking it to the Top with Technique

 

Ringing technique is everything!  As directors, we spend countless hours in rehearsal.  We are not only there for teaching music skills, mastering a score and readying for a performance.  We may also be creating community, fostering social skills, motivating and ministering. It’s hard to believe that we do this all in an hour or two each week.

For many, the largest portion of our time is dedicated to teaching notes and coaching eye-hand coordination.  However, the underlying component to having our ringing ensemble work as one unit or instrument and achieving the highest musical results is proper ringing technique.

Taking the time in the beginning to introduce and reinforce good technique to ringers will lead to quicker musical results in the end.  “Beginning” may have different meanings depending on your situation – new ringers, new program year or each new rehearsal.

Here are some things to consider and focus upon for your fresh start:

Ringing – The flick of the wrist is just the beginning of the tone. How we move the instrument determines the musicality of the tone.  Where we hold the instrument while we ring it – low or high in the plane – reinforces its identity as melody or harmonic support.

Damping – In music, a rest can be more important than the notes played.  Be sure that your ringers are damping properly so that the note is cleanly damped exactly when it should be.

Arm extension – Before ringing, the arm extension should match the duration of the note so that the instrument may be brought back to the shoulder for damping with the tempo of the music.  For example, in a moderate tempo, a whole note is equivalent to extending the whole arm; a half note is equivalent to extending at the elbow, etc.

Precision ringing – Be sure your ringersbreathe together before playing a chord so that all instruments strike at once.

Learn more about ringing techniques on handchimes here.  Musicality tips may be found here.

With the foundation of good ringing technique, your musical success will be easily built.

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

 

Prepare the Way for Advent!

Leaves are falling and soon snowflakes will be, too.  The time has come to begin preparing for Advent and Christmas.  To help make your Advent music search a little easier, ChimeWorks is pleased to recommend the following pieces for the season which will no doubt bring hope, peace and joy to your worshipping congregation.

All are available for immediate purchase and download from Chimeworks.com

 

The King Shall Come

Level 2 with optional percussion

 2 -3 Octaves, 3 – 5 Octaves

 

On Jordan’s Bank the Baptist’s Cry

Level 1

2 – 3 Octaves, 3 – 5 Octaves

 

Savior of the Nations, Come

Level 2 with optional percussion

2 – 3 Octaves, 3 – 5 Octaves

 

Light in the Darkness

Level 2+

3 – 5 Octaves

 

Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence

Level 2 with optional flute or violin

3-4 Octaves

Level 2 with optional percussion and keyboard

2- 3 or 5 Octaves

 

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

Level 2

2 – 3 Octaves

 

Of the Father’s Love Begotten

Level 1+

2 Octaves

 

Long Ago, Prophets Knew

Level 1

2 -3 Octaves, 3 – 7 Octaves

 

Come, Thou Almighty King

Level 2+ with optional percussion

2 -3 Octaves, 3 – 6 Octaves

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!

Easy Secular Music for Handchimes

The school bell is about to ring and so is your handchime ensemble.  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.

Soliloquy

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

 

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

 

PADDLE Your Way to a Musical Performance

As a director of a ringing ensemble, there is an easy acronym for you to remember as you strive to achieve the most musical performance with your handchime choir of any level.  Most of the letters of this acronym are attributed to Don Allured, who was one of the early leaders of the ringing movement and taught us these points to remember as we educate and direct our choirs.

Precision is on the mark in an ensemble! Getting your ensemble to play together precisely on the beat separates excellence from mediocrity. Work with your ringers in preparing for the beat so that their chords sound together and do not imitate an arpeggio. It is important to have your ensemble work as one rather than a group of individuals. Ringing together on the beat requires physical practice for coordination and muscle memory, anticipation of the beat through breath and unified motion throughout the choir. Unified motion can be defined as ringers moving their arms in the same height or plane and all at the same tempo.

Accuracy in ringing the correct notes and rhythms is what it is the most significant part of a great performance. Allow enough rehearsal time so that your ringers can learn the notes accurately and with confidence so that there are none missing.

Duration of the note increases musicality. Musical ringing is about giving each note it’s full duration so that there are legato lines in the melody, counter-melody and harmony throughout. Cheating the beat just because or to get to another handchime does not create a beautiful, rich sound. When preparing the score, the director should review any handchime changes to make sure that they can be accomplished as musically as possible.

Dynamic contrast is key to your music becoming a master work. So often, the range of dynamics that we use is restricted. Since we have limited sonorities within our handchime set, we should use dynamics and their effects such as crescendo and diminuendo to create a larger landscape of sound. Encourage your ringers to expand their sound limits in high and low directions.

Legato Ringing – Arm motion is the breath support for the handchime. So many of us come to ringing from singing and we recognize that a good singer uses breath to form and support their sound. In ringing, the snap of our wrist initiates the sound of the handchime but it is how we move the handchime through the air once it is ringing that determines the musicality of the tonal response. How we decide to move the instrument through the air decides how it will sound.

Emotion is key to music.  Encourage your ringers to put themselves into the music.  With their hearts and spirits revealed, their music will be like none other.

Remembering to paddle your way through the music is one way to ensure that your music will ebb and flow to the best possible performance!

Ode to Music

Children will remember the songs that we teach them throughout their lives. Be it a catchy tune, silly lyrics or an engaging movement, the music that we teach will impact our students in different ways but the end results are the same – lifelong memories.

As teachers of music, we hope to instill an appreciation, love or passion for music into our students. We do this best by actively involving them in the music-making process allowing them to be creative as they go and encouraging them to connect their experiences to the world around them. We also know that music will stimulate the intellectual, emotional, spiritual and social growth of our students affecting their lives in so many ways.

We balance our choice of lessons and repertoire to broaden our students – classical, folk, world and nonsense songs fill our teaching space – all to provide our students with a varying wealth of repertoire. Along with our singing, we introduce drums and other percussion, recorders, Orff instruments, ukuleles, Boomwhackers®, KidsPlay® bells and handchimes all in effort for our students to find their voice. In the end, our hope is for well-rounded young musicians leading to accomplished adults who are kinder, gentler and welcoming.

How often do we stop and sing about it? Music, that is. As we close the school year, we have an opportunity to sum up all that we offer with songs that praise our beloved art. Words that express how wonderful music is that our students will remember for a lifetime.

Share the joy of music with some of the following ChimeWorks lesson plans that will allow your students to sing and ring about it!

Merrily, Merrily Greet The Morn (LP00053)

Music Alone Shall Live (LP00043)

O Music, Sweet Music (LP00021)

Sing Together (LP00055)

Viva La Musica (LP00065)

Welcome Ev’ry Guest (LP00072)

O, How Lovely (LP00066)

Adaptable Lesson Plans for KidsPlay® Bells, Boomwhackers® and More!

The ChimeWorksTM library of lesson plans is not just for those who use handchimes!  While these lesson plans have been developed as an ever-growing resource for those who have access to handchime sets in the classroom and rehearsal, they are easily adaptable to be used with KidsPlay® bells, Orff-style instruments, Boomwhackers®, handbells and other pitched percussion instruments.  You can even double a melody with recorders!

 

In fact, the lesson plans using Icons and Chords have been developed using a system incorporating colors so that users of KidsPlay Bells and Boomwhackers will now have a new dimension of resources available to them.  Handchime owners can purchase colored bands here to wrap around the chime tube to give your students another feature in the learning process of becoming music literate.

 

In these lesson plans, we use a second component (shapes, pitch names, etc.) for those who suffer from color vision deficiency along with the Chroma-note® colors so that every child can be engaged in learning, developing eye-hand coordination and ultimately, music literacy.

 

Who are these lesson plans written for?

 

  • Music Education teachers who want to energize their classrooms and concert stages by increasing music literacy, creativity and collaboration.

 

  • Choir Directors who want to create meaningful rehearsals by implementing music reading, rhythm and exploration into their choral rehearsals leading to greater participation.

 

  • Music therapists who desire more resources in teaching non-music readers and giving them profound experiences.

 

  • Home Education leaders who are looking for resources with which to create musical experiences for smaller groups and will accommodate your educational needs at any level.

 

Are you one of these leaders?  Here’s what’s in the store for you – lesson plans using:

 

Icons

Icons are 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.

 

The ChimeWorks lesson plans use a standardized group of icons combining shapes and colors. The shapes have been adapted loosely from those used in shape-note singing.

 

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 score.  Several methods may be used to achieve success in helping the students to associate their handchime or other instrument with the appropriate pitch. 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.

 

Chords

Students may quickly harmonize the songs which they sing by using chords.  The ChimeWorks chordal lesson plans using two to seven chords are adaptable to lower and upper elementary school students alike.

 

Each lesson plan includes the melody and text of each song with chords indicated over the melody.  For older students, the text of the first verse is presented with chord names and associated colors over the text.  The students may sing the text and chime the associated chords as they progress through the text.  For younger children, a chord chart with associated colors is included which may be displayed through a computer-generated slideshow presentation or interactive whiteboard so that the teacher may point to the appropriate chord while singing tracking tempo and rhythm.

 

 

Ostinati

Harmonize your songs with ostinati patterns.  All the ChimeWorks ostinati lesson plans are easy to teach by rote.  Each lesson plan includes the melody and text of each song along with a series of patterns that can be taught on any number of pitched instruments.  Distribute non-pitched percussion too and have your students improvising rhythms in no time. This is creative music-making at its best!

 

 

Share your Success

Earn some extra cash! How many countless hours have you spent writing lessons? Submit your successful lesson plans for possible inclusion in the ChimeWorks lesson plan library and earn 40% royalty on each lesson plan sold!  Read more here.

 

Log on to www.chimeworks.com for a free two-week trial period and three free lesson plans today!