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   The Twelfth Tone
Area 12 Newsletter                                                                                April 2017

In This Issue
From the Chair
San Francisco Bay Area
Southern California
Northern Nevada
Northern California
LA Metro
Central California
Southern Nevada
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Message from the Chair - Tessique Houston

Hello Area 12!
At the end of this month, your Area 12 Board of Directors will be having our semi-annual meeting.  We will be meeting to discuss all the ways we can serve you, the members of Area 12.
I know many of you visit the Area 12 website for information on concerts and events. And right there, at the top on the "About Us" tab, is our mission statement.

The mission of Area 12 of the Handbell Musicians of America or The Guild (formerly known as American Guild of English Handbell Ringers or AGEHR) is to educate, motivate and nurture fellowship, joy and excellence in handbell and handchime music. The primary objectives of the organization are to educate and to promote the exchange of ideas relating to handbell and handchime ringing and to sponsor educational activities (excluding direct competition between choirs, ensembles and/or ringers).

We read this at the start of each board meeting to help us remain focused on our mission and make sure all our decisions are based on achieving this. Then we get to work!
We will be welcoming Debbie Shaw to the position of Events Director.  I am really looking forward to working with Debbie on developing great events for Area 12!

We will also be discussing such exciting and fun topics as future Area 12 biennial conferences, local spring rings and other ringer events, starting (or restarting!) the annual Area 12 Director Workshop, and dreaming about the possibility of offering certification events in Area 12.
As we are in the business of handbells, we also have to discuss the not so fun topics of finances, by-laws, and procedural rules for running our organization. These are the things that keep us going so we can fulfill our mission.
This leads us to ways YOU can be involved. Any member of Area 12 is welcome to attend the board meetings, they are open meetings. But we understand that is not an easy thing to do. An easier alternative is to contact a member of the board and ask them to pass along your input. Your regional coordinators are there for you and they would gladly take anything you have to contribute to the meeting. You are also welcome to email any of the Elected Officers or Appointed Officers if you feel one could better address your contribution - we are ALL here for you!
I am excited to be meeting soon with the members of the Area 12 Board and I'm looking forward to all of our discussions.  I will share the results with you next month!

Tessique Houston

P.S. Our Area 12 board meeting is April 22nd and 23rd in Southern California. If you want to join us to listen or have thoughts to send along, please contact your regional coordinator!
Communiqué - Barbara Meinke, Communications

I bet some of you out there remember when The Twelfth Tone was printed on paper and mailed via US Postal Service to each of our members. I marvel at the past editors who typed this up on typewriters, stapled their fingers, and licked postage stamps! Boy, am I glad I don't have to do that! This newsletter now has nearly 1700 subscribers, including Guild members and handbell enthusiasts all over the world!

Did you know we have an archive of past issues of The Twelfth Tone on our website? You can relive the past or imagine the "old days" of Area 12 by clicking on any of the links for past issues. Read Voices from the Past (interviews with past Area 12 Chairs), Rudy's Roost, David Ruder's IMHO, or see how long WestCoast Handbell Supply has been advertising with us!

What? Your favorite issue isn't there yet? Please help us fill in the blanks! Any issue not underlined on  this archive page  is missing and maybe you have it!

If you have a copy of a missing issue, just scan and email it to me (or get someone to do that for you!) and help us honor and appreciate our past!

Here's a taste of what you'll find there! (from Dec02/Jan03, the third in the series) Do you have either of the two interviews that came before?

(The third in a series.)

Patty Marquart             Ginny Fleming           Dick Coulter
Diane Levorson              Gary Delk                 Mystery Chair

In this series, former Chairs of Area XII have consented to a written "interview" about their experiences, memories, and other thoughts about Area XII. Each has been given the same set of questions, which appear within the text of their responses. As we approach the 50th anniversary of AGEHR in 2004, I hope that this series will offer us a brief perspective of our past as we look forward to the next 50 years of "...uniting people through a musical art..." - wlw (William L Waggener, editor)

1. WHEN, WHERE, and HOW did you get started in handbells?

I first heard a handbell choir play in 1956 or 57, when Bob Hieber from Battle Creek, Michigan brought his choir of junior and senior high school boys to Union Seminary for a demonstration. I thought that bell ringing was a big gimmick. "I will never use handbells," I said to my classmates. About 2 years later, in my position as Minister of Music at Trinity Methodist Church in Newport News, Virginia, I discovered that the males in my high school singing choir - who, at one time could read music, had lost their reading ability because while they went through voice change, they participated in sports and not music. I thought to myself that it would be great to have them find an activity which would keep them reading music so that when they got into high school, they would be able to keep up with the girls. Consequently, I talked the church into buying a set of Whitechapel bells. We got three octaves, I think. I remember that it took about 18 months for them to arrive from England - a very long time for us to wait. About the same time, a church in Norfolk, Virginia had a purchased a set of Schulmerich Handbells. They didn't sound very good to me, and I thought I would never use them. I only mention this to show how changeable we all are. Later, I completely reversed my position. I remember attending the first convention/festival in St. Louis, Missouri. What an eye-opening experience that was. There was a choir that rang from real music - even eighth notes - from memory. I couldn't believe it! We were using simple chordal music in my church. Another memory was of hearing the Potomac Ringers from Washington, DC. They were directed by Nancy Poore Tufts, who later became the President of AGEHR and who used large charts and a pointer. Her ringers read alphabet letters, not notes. Later, when I was living in Berkeley, CA, we started a choir of two octaves. We attended the first California festival, which was in Santa Barbara. I think there may have been 10 choirs there, but I'm not sure. It was a meager beginning - probably not more than 120 ringers - if that many.

2. WHAT FORMAL MUSICAL TRAINING did you have prior to working with handbells?

I have a Bachelor of Science in Music Education (emphasis on Choral Conducting) from the University of Idaho and a Master of Sacred Music from Union Theological Seminary, New York City. I have done further graduate work in Europe through the University of Oregon and at Northwestern University - all of this was prior to beginning to work with handbells. 

3. WHAT is your favorite handbell composition, and WHY is this work meaningful to you? I don't have a favorite handbell composition. Composing for handbells keeps developing so much. Some of my favorites are: Sharon's Song by Donald Allured because it helped us to learn about phrasing and legato playing - something which we hear very rarely these days, I think; Textures by Everett J. Hilty because it gave us new sounds and "textures" for bells; John Bartsch's compositions - particularly an untitled piece for Harp and handbells which he wrote for the Bells of the Cascades - also Spirit Wind; Arabesque by Debussy (now arranged by Kodama, but we played it from the piano score) because my choir played it for national and did a bang-up job; Reflections by Betty Garee because it provides a sense of movement and inner beauty.

4. WHAT ADVICE would you give to someone who is just starting to work with handbells?

I gained the most help and knowledge by attending - and giving - workshops on handbell techniques. I would strongly urge new directors to attend as many as possible and to have their ringers attend as many as possible. One of my pet peeves with handbell ringing - and it has been from the beginning - is that director's and audiences are more impressed with speed and loud ringing than they are with phrasing, legato playing, and understanding the inner spirit of the music. Therefore, I would advise beginning conductors to study the score, to learn what the composer was trying to express, to develop ways of dealing with the "give and take", "stress and release" and worry less about showmanship. 

5. HOW LONG have you been a member, and WHAT has The AGEHR meant to you?

Part of this is answered in #1. I think my membership actually began in 1959, but I'm not sure - at any rate it was a long time ago. AGEHR was a very dominant/major part of my life (and my family's life) for many years - particularly when I was on the National Board. I was fortunate to be involved with the early years of AGEHR and helped to form some of the policies upon which we are founded. Attending either a Regional or a National Convention was always part of the program for my handbell choirs - for many years. These gatherings gave my program a focus. It seems to me, in retrospect (isn't hindsight 20/20 vision?) that AGEHR grew too rapidly, and we did not know enough about seeking outside professional help. As a result, there have developed political camps in support of one person or another, or in support of one school of playing or another, and so forth. Also, directors have worked hard at protecting their own work and not sharing ideas fully. I'm not particularly happy or unhappy, at this place in my life, to admit to having been a part of AGEHR. I had hoped that we, as an organization, would have included former officers - not because of their "former officer-ness," but because of their experience - similar to grandparents. ACDA includes all of their past presidents in a council which always meets at the time of the annual meeting of their board - and which gives a report to their board. I think AGEHR could benefit from that type of thing. 

6. WHAT POSITION(S) have you held in The AGEHR, and WHEN did you serve in each position?

The first position I remember is Chairman of Area IX (before it became Area XII), and then Chairman of Area XII (must have been about 1978 - Ginny Fleming referred to that in her article in the last Twelfth Tone, but I can't find it). I believe that I am the only person who was Chairman of two Areas without changing jobs or residences. Of course, prior to any of that, I was active on several committees doing planning for local and regional festivals, I was elected to be President-elect of AGEHR in 1987 and succeeded Linda McKechnie as President in 1989 and then, of course, Immediate Past President in 1991. 

7. WHAT FUTURE do you see for handbells? More to the point, WHAT do you think MUST HAPPEN in order to elevate handbell ringing to the level of public support and recognition enjoyed by community orchestras, choral ensembles, and the like?

It is difficult to know what we can do in order to bring handbells into the real arena of "acceptable" music - similar to choruses and orchestras which are supported by local communities. We need to get away from playing music which is either: 1) too showy with little content or 2) arranged from some other medium. SONOS has tried to lead the way and is, apparently, succeeding to some extent. I think we need to encourage the composition of a whole lot more music for handbells that is "unique" but not necessarily "avant garde", that is easily understood without being trite or simple, and something which sings with beautiful phrasing, exciting harmonies and which will challenge the listeners' ears and minds.

As I have pondered this last question a little more, it seems to me that we might have to get to the point of having many more ringers in an organization than we do now - similar to the manner in which some Japanese conductors have developed their groups. After all, an orchestra has several violinists - why shouldn't a handbell group have many more ringers. By doing that, we could perhaps develop the ability to perform deeper and larger works. I would have to think more about that. - Dick Coulter

Until next month!

Barbara Meinke
Communications Director
San Francisco Bay - Kendra Scott, Regional Coordinator

Hi Bay Area,
If you're like me, you know publicity is super important to getting a great turnout for your spring concert. If you're like me, publicity isn't your favorite thing to work on. So what's to be done? Most of us don't have the luxury of working in the field of handbells as our 9-5 weekday job and we're often too busy at work or too wiped out at the end of the day to fit it in. So here are some ideas to help you out!
  • Set deadlines early and often. 
  • Get a partner to help you or offer words of encouragement.
  • Do a little at a time. Break up the work into manageable chunks.
  • Get your choir involved! You never know who's got a job in marketing or who has excellent computer graphics skills until you ask.
  • Provide concert posters to local churches and schools in the area that have bell choirs or ask them to include you in their weekly bulletin.
  • Send your concert info to us so we can put it on the Events calendar!
  • Contact local (and often free) arts newsletters or online publications. Just Google!
  • Create a Facebook page for your group and post an event!
  • Share your event on Area 12's Facebook page.
  • Post to Twitter or Instagram.
The Bay Area Spring Ring is fast upon us! Come to Valley Church in Cupertino on April 29th!  It's not too late to register! Groups and individual ringers all welcome!

Spots are still open for the Intense Ring Friday evening!

On the fence? Just do it!

Catch the fabulous noontime concert featuring Kathie Fink!

Join us for the Spring Ring Concert at 6 pm on Saturday! Tell your friends!

Want to enrich your directing skills? Sign up for the Director's Workshop in Concord Sunday!
Click on the blue Title below for all the details and forms!

  Bay Area Spring Ring, Intense Ring
and Director's Workshop
April 2 8 , 29, and 30, 2017
Valley Church, Cupertino CA

This event is endorsed by Handbell Musicians of America
Happy ringing,

Kendra Scott
Bay Area Regional Coordinator

For information on San Francisco  Bay Area's concerts, events,
and other opportunities,  click here.

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Southern CA - Michèle Sharik, Regional Coordinator

Hey there, my SoCal peeps -
They say April showers bring May flowers, but here in the handbell world, they also bring Spring Rings! 
Our very own SoCal Spring Ring will be here soon - it's Friday and Saturday, April 28 and 29 in Oceanside and our clinician is the amazingly talented and incredibly funny Stevie Berryman. Registration is "cafeteria style," so you can choose between "Bronze Vision plus massed ringing," "Classes plus massed ringing," or "Massed ringing only." How's that for options? Click on the blue link below and get the registration forms. You can attend as an individual or as part of a group. You don't want to miss this!
Don't forget to either send me your spring concert info, or enter it into our calendar yourself by going to our Submit Your Event page.

April 28-29, 2017
St. Thomas More Catholic Church
Oceanside, CA

This event is sponsored by Handbell Musicians of America

See you soon in Oceanside!

Michèle Sharik
For information on Southern California's concerts,  events,
and other opportunities,  click here .  
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Northern NV - Barb Walsh, Regional Coordinator


Our 15th Annual Sierra Spring Ring will be happening on  May 20th in Reno, NV. In addition to the two massed ringing pieces ("Acclamation in G Minor" by Karen Thompson and "Little One" by Jason Krug), Tintabulations will be teaching classes that include bell techniques, rhythm, bell maintenance, making the most of your rehearsals, and team building. All this for only $15! Individuals, partial ensembles and whole ensembles are welcome. 
15th Annual
Sierra Spring Ring
May 20, 2017
Marvin Picollo School
Reno, NV

This event is endorsed by Handbell Musicians of America


Umpteenth Annual
Young Ringers' Festival

May 23rd   in Reno, NV
$1 per student

The students will perform a processional and one massed piece. In addition, each ensemble is encouraged to share a solo piece. 

This event is sponsored by Handbell Musicians of America

Please contact me at my email address below or call 775-677-8117 for more information on either of these events.

Barbara Walsh
Northern Nevada Regional Coordinator

For information on Northern Nevada's concerts, events,
and other opportunities,  click here
Northern CA - Nancy Schmitt, Regional Coordinator
Nancy Schmitt
Hello Northern California,

Massed Director:  Mary Balkow
Red Zone Bronze Director:  Barb Walsh

Massed Repertoire
Fanfare Festiva (Barbara Werner)
Simple Dance (arr. Michael Glasgow)
Siyahamba  (Hal Hopson)
Mary Did You Know (arr. Anna Laura Page)
A Mighty Fortress is Our God (arr. Cathy Moklebust)
This event is endorsed by Handbell Musicians of America.
Registration forms available on the Northern California calendar.
Happy Spring,

Nancy Schmitt
Northern California Regional Coordinator  

For information on Northern California's concerts, events,
and other opportunities,  click here!
LA Metro - F. Thomas Simpson, Regional Coordinator

Please allow me to introduce myself!
I have been involved in handbells now for over 40 years - yes, I started as a mere child! From those first experiences in 4th grade in the 70's, to playing in the first professional college choir in the 80's, various church positions in the 90's and 2000's until now with my church and community groups, I have seen handbells bring people together to fulfill The Guild's motto: Uniting People Though a Musical Art. Just this past weekend over 80 people came together in Pasadena for a concert of choirs from around the LA Metro area. I am thrilled to see handbells are thriving here - but know we still have a lot of work to do!
Are you in a local choir and need help? Have you always wanted to attend a festival? Do you have bells hidden away in some dark church closet just longing to be rung again? WE ARE HERE TO HELP!
And as your new LA Metro rep, I am here to help you help yourself. Please reach out to me about any needs you may have!

F. Thomas Simpson
For information on LA Metro's concerts, events,
and other opportunities,  click here.
 Like us on Facebook 
Central CA - Christine Anderson, Regional Coordinator

What's up, CenCal?
Send me YOUR news!

Christine Anderson
Central California Regional Coordinator

For information on Central California's concerts, events,
and other opportunities,  click here .
Southern NV - Alison Pruett, Regional Coordinator

What's up, Las Vegas?
Send me YOUR news!

Alison Pruett
Southern Nevada Regional Coordinator

For information on Southern Nevada's concerts, events,
and other opportunities,  click here .

  Like us on Facebook
Hawaii - Karen Carlisle, Regional Coordinator
Karen Carlisle

What's up, Hawaii?
Send me YOUR news!


Karen Carlisle
Hawaii Regional Coordinator

For information on Hawaii's concerts, events,
and other opportunities,  click here .
Advertising Rates for the  2017 Publishing Year

The Twelfth Tone  is published the first of each month, except July, by Area 12 of the Handbell Musicians of America (The Guild). The Guild is a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing the musical art of handbell/handchime ringing through education,  community, and communication. The editor of this publication reserves the right to reject or modify copy.

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NEW submission  DEADLINE is the 20th of each month.
No issue in July.

Please submit your ads  via  email  to
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