Video: Bell Basics: A Program of Instruction for the Beginning Handbell Director and Ringer

Susan M. Berry & David L. Week. Carol Stream, IL: Hope Publishing Company. 40 min., $49.95.

Is your church thinking of starting a handbell program but unsure where to begin? Bell Basics, written and produced by Susan M. Berry and David L. Week, is a video program of instruction for the beginning handbell director and ringer. Berry is a certified clinician for the American Guild of English Handbell Ringers, an area manager for Malmark Handbells, and a specialist in organizing and beginning handbell programs. Week is a clinician, educator, and Handbell Editor for Hope Publishing Company.

A director or ringer watching Bell Basics can learn, through close-up camera observation, the correct way to hold, ring, and damp handbells. Berry and Week and a demonstration choir present correct and incorrect ringing techniques, and carefully explain the difference.

The video also includes a discussion of the handbell and its mechanism, equipment needs, basic bell assignments, and standard layout of bells on the table. Special techniques of table damping, bell switching, shaking, tower swing, let vibrate, plucking, and thumb damp are demonstrated.

Bell Basics is a helpful tool for beginning directors and ringers. It makes the faraway, infrequent, and sometimes costly beginning workshop a convenient reality for an entire choir that can be repeated as needed. The demonstrations of correct techniques are most helpful, and ringers with any experience will chuckle at the demonstration of incorrect techniques. The format enables choirs to work along with the video, joining in the rhythm exercises included on the screen.

Berry and Week encourage directors and ringers to explore the many resources and workshops available and recommend membership in the American Guild of English Handbell Ringers. Bell Basics is a welcome addition for the beginning director and ringer.

Marcia L. Smits is a member of the Winfield, Illinois, Christian Reformed Church, and a director of handbell choirs in Western Michigan.