The Newsletter of Area 1 Handbell Musicians of America | Vol. XXXVII No. 2 | April 2022
Report from the Interim Chair
Lisa Arnold
Greetings from Italy! We have just come to the end of a beautiful week of site seeing, eating delicious food, and doing a LOT of walking. But the best part of our trip was getting together with handbell musicians from across the United States and making beautiful music together. There is something magical about handbells, and the way it brings people together with a common goal that is unparalleled. Our music touches the hearts of our audiences, too. In Italy it is common to hear the audience humming along in appreciation. Music is the magic that binds people together and right now, with everything going on in the world and our lives, we can all use a little magic.

Now, it’s time for Area 1 to make our own magic. This June, musicians from across New England will be gathering at our Festival Conference - the embodiment of Area 1's mission, vision and values. Festival Conference traditionally funds a large portion of our two-year budget, and last week your Area 1 Board made the difficult decision to forge ahead, knowing that we still need more attendees and/or sponsorships to meet our goal. This choice was made possible because of the healthy reserve that Area 1 leaders have built and maintained over the years. Festival Conference committee members are working deliberately to bring a fiscally-responsible, memorable and magical event to Hartford this summer. I hope to see you there!

Many of us are excited, yet some are still concerned. Have you been ringing throughout the pandemic, or have you barely touched a handbell in more than two years? Life has changed, but the thing that hasn’t changed is that WE LOVE TO RING! I am so grateful to the Area 1 Board, the Festival Conference Committee, as well as the Spring Ring Committees, who have continued to adapt, prepare and invent new ways to keep people engaged. Area 1 is a great place to be, and we have an awesome team here! If you feel compelled to get more involved, or if you have an idea that might keep ringers engaged and introduce more people to our musical art, please let me know.

Did I mention that we have a Festival to put on in less than 3 months? If you are able to participate in our pinnacle event, please sign up soon. If you are able to sponsor at any level, be it a FRIEND at $25 or a BRONZE at $500, or any level in between, we welcome your support. Read more details in the Festival Conference update below.

Lisa Arnold
Past Chair and Interim Chair, Area 1

We regret to report that due to various reasons, we recently have experienced several resignations from our Board, including our Chair and Chair-Elect. Our Past-Chair, Lisa Arnold is serving as Interim Chair, with the expectation that we will hold a special election in the fall to fill the current vacant Chair-Elect seat. Please contact Lisa Arnold at if you are interested in serving. We are currently in communication with the National Office for guidance and support. 

Carlene Ruesenberg, 2022 Festival Conference Chair

Dear Friends and Area 1 Members,

I am pleased to report that our Planning Committee is making great progress in bringing you another memorable and meaningful Area 1 Festival Conference this June. We are inspired by hundreds of handbell musicians, industry supporters, and friends who have stepped forward to say "Yes!" to Festival Conference 2022. Thank you!!!

More good news - we still have room on the ringing floor, in the dorms, and in the classrooms, so we'll keep registration open through April 25! Two great options to choose from: the full, 4-day event OR our 1-day "Taste of Festival Conference" experience.

And if you simply are not able to join us in June, perhaps you will lend us your sponsorship support. Every gift, no matter the amount, adds strength to our mission of advancing the musical art of handbell/handchime ringing through education, community, and communication.

Conference details, including COVID protocols and registration links for the full, 4-day conference and the 1-day "Taste of Festival Conference", are found at the links below. There's also a link for Sponsorship donations.

It’s time to get back to bells! See you in Hartford.

Carlene Ruesenberg
2022 Festival Conference Chair
HMA Membership is your key to engagement!

A gentle reminder: Many of us have a March renewal date for our Handbell Musicians of America annual dues. In order to take full advantage of HMA's programs, periodicals, and many other resources, please take the time to renew your membership today!
Find out more at HMA's membership page.

Area 1 Newsletter Editor - Search Continues
Area 1 is seeking a candidate to fill the volunteer position of Newsletter Editor. Working in conjunction with Area 1 leaders, the Newsletter Editor solicits articles and advertisements for the "Fundamental Tone", which is published six times a year. This person will be expected to submit a report in advance of each Area 1 Board Meeting and attend each meeting (three times a year) as a non-voting member.
This position requires a great deal of interaction with Area 1 members and associates, including the Communications Director, Executive Board Members, State Chairs, member organizations, handbell industry partners, and other supporters of our organization. 
Communicating deadlines and following up on commitments are keys to a successful Editor, along with excellent writing and editing skills. Once drafted, the newsletter should be reviewed by the Communications Director before being published.
Candidates must be proficient working with Microsoft Office, graphics files, and .pdfs. Previous experience with producing newsletters via an electronic platform required; working knowledge of Constant Contact is preferred.  
This search is ongoing until the position is filled. If you are interested in the position, but have questions, please reach out to Amy Rollins at the email listed. Applicants should submit a cover letter and resume to Amy Rollins, Area 1 Communications Director, at

Making Lemonade out of Lemons: Winter Workschoppe
and the Unexpected Benefits of a Blizzard

by Abby Schoppe
It all started with a Facebook post.

No, scratch that – it all started because I was disappointed.

Like many sacred musicians, I’d been having a particularly challenging year, and amid the Omicron surge, my church had recently canceled all in-person rehearsals and returned to online worship. For weeks, I had looked forward to Area 1’s Winter Workshop as my one opportunity to finally make live music with bell friends. And then, two days before we would have all met in Amherst, an impending blizzard forced the event to cancel.

Canceling Winter Workshop was absolutely a wise decision. There is no scenario under which it would have been safe for anyone to travel in the face of the forecast for that Saturday. But this fact did little to allay my discouragement. At another time, I might have welcomed being snowed in at home, but during this January, I’d already had all the downtime I could take and then some. I was ready to be social and to make music! continue reading full article here...
Suzanne Neafus, Connecticut State Chair
Happy Spring!

Plans for Festival Conference 2022 are still moving forward. If you aren’t registered for the full day event – please consider the newly announced one-day option.  I look forward to seeing many of you there, even if it is just as an audience member watching a concert.

I am saddened to report that the CT Spring Ring had to be cancelled this year. With thoughts of spring and new beginnings, I want to use this as opportunity to explore new and different options on how to bring ringers from around our state together to share their love of handbells. To accomplish this task, we ask for your input.  Please fill out this survey.

This survey is open to all – so feel free to share with others who may attend events in the state of Connecticut. I look forward to seeing what great ideas will come out of this process.

Take care and Happy Ringing–
Suzanne Neafus, CT State Chair
Notes from MAINE
Dana Humphreys, Maine State Chair
Maine Spring Ring 2020+2 Workshop!

What a great day we had! On March 26, fifty ringers from seven choirs from all over the great State of Maine as well as five independent ringers (our new name for orphans) from ME, NH, MA and RI arrived at the Auburn Middle School for a full day of playing, singing, laughing and just plain having fun! We rehearsed eight pieces, including the beautiful “Be Thou My Vision;” the emotional “Vasylyna’s Tears,” composed as a tribute to Ukraine in 2018; the lively “Fiesta Con Campanillas,” accompanied by castanets, and a fun arrangement of “The Rainbow Connection.” The Towne Lyne Ringers played a solo performance of “Celtic Praise,” a rousing arrangement with lots of meter changes.

Choirs attending were the Auburn Methodist Ringers, Over the River Ringers (Skowhegan), Rangeley
Ringers, Penobscot Bay Ringers (Camden), St. Alban’s Shore Ringers (Cape Elizabeth) and Towne Lyne
Ringers (Falmouth) and, attending their very first Spring Ring, Second Congregational Church of Warren

Smiles and laughs were in abundance through the day – which always happens when ringers of all skill
levels come together to share our love bells. When a call for photos of the day went out to directors, the
typical reply was, “We were having so much fun, we forgot to take pictures!”

Many thanks to Dan Moore, Artistic Director of the New England Ringers, who directed our Massed and
Coppers sections, to Kim Visbaras, ringer from both Auburn Methodist and Towne Lyne Ringers, who
directed the Tins section, and to our awesome host choir, the Auburn Methodist Ringers.

Remember, you have another opportunity to have more fun at the awesome Festival Conference in June
at the University of Hartford. One Area 1 board member recently said attending Festival Conference,
along with this wife, was one of the best times he’s ever had! Click this link for more information!

--Dana Humphreys, ME State Chair
Abigail Schoppe, Massachusetts State Chair
Greetings from Massachusetts!

By the time this article is published, Massachusetts Spring Ring will have just been completed. A full recap will appear in my next report. Thanks to everyone who made our day a great success in Tewksbury.

Looking farther ahead, I also am very excited for Festival Conference this June. Haven’t signed up yet? What are you waiting for? It will be such a joy to spend several days making music with all of you!

As Covid restrictions begin to ease, I do hope most of you are back to ringing in your churches or community choirs. Feel free to drop me a line at and let me know how things are going. Hopefully I'll see many of you soon in Hartford.

-Abby Schoppe, MA State Chair

New Hampshire: currently open
Rhode Island: currently open
Vermont: Pat Pranger,

Contact Lisa Arnold, if you are interested in serving.
SnagASub 2022
by Steve Mazzou, SnagASub Coordinator
Back in September, I collected up the material for SnagASub from Cindy McLean-Greeley as she wanted to retire as the coordinator. Cindy and Gail Granum first organized the Area 1 SnagASub program in 2015. For anyone not familiar with SnagASub or how it works, please visit our webpage.

Two years of COVID has dramatically reduced the need for substitute ringers and our online bulletin board has been pretty quiet, but we’re still here!

In November, I emailed the members of SnagASub and asked for suggestions on how we might improve the program and received several constructive responses including the following:

• “A template should be created for use by whoever is making a request. Some of the info needed is typically left out such as what bell position(s) are needed, date, time, length of rehearsal, specific directions not just to the church, but to where the bells rehearsal is in the building, name of director and name of person you are ringing for, level of music being rehearsed or played.”

• It’s important to know ahead of time if the church, ringing location or choir loft is handicapped accessible. Many of the older churches may have steep, narrow stairs and substitute ringers who might do well in a more modern building may suddenly find themselves in a difficult position.
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