The Newsletter of Area 1 | Volume XXXV No. 4 | August 2020
News for Handbell Musicians in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts,
New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont 
Festival Conference 2021
Update and Survey


Dear Area 1 Members and Friends,

Yes, Festival / Conference 2021 is still happening! HOW it’s happening is another question! Two months ago, I was feeling optimistic that we’d be able to return to ‘normal’, and we could do F/C in June 2021 a lot like we did it in 2019. Now, I’m not so sure. Nationally, many events have moved to an online format, which, while less than ideal, has proven to be a pretty effective means to create learning opportunities, and also to reach a wider audience.

Many people from Area 1 attended the virtual National Seminar, including myself. I still was able to walk away with a lot of great ideas, see some old friends and meet some new ones, spend money at the virtual vendors, and even experience some terrific concerts. It proved to me that a virtual event is do-able, and can still be fun, all while under the stay-at-home restrictions that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused for many of us.

I know that the biggest difference between National Seminar and our Area 1 Festival / Conference is the opportunity for massed ringing. I’m sure that is probably the No. 1 reason why many of us attend. I’m working on figuring out a way to still make that happen, but stay safe. So I’m asking help from you so that I can ‘take your temperature’ to find out how the planning committee should move forward.

I’m interested in knowing if you’re planning to convene as a choir in some fashion this fall, either with social distancing, collaborative ‘virtual choir’ apps such as acapella, or not playing at all. I’d like to know if you might be willing to still come to Hartford in June, if strict social distancing and sanitation measures are in place, such as single rooms in the dorm (at the same rate as doubles), smaller groups in the dining hall, all sitting 6’ apart, and of course, massed ringing and classrooms set up with six-foot distances between people and tables, and everyone wearing masks.

 It will help us greatly so that we can decide how to move on, knowing that what we thought would be ‘back to normal’ by June 2021 may very well be anything else but.

I’m pretty excited to be thinking about new ways to design Festival / Conference so that it’s still the great handbell event you’ve come to expect every two years. I’m still optimistic that whatever form it takes, we’ll have a good time!

Thanks for your valuable feedback! As always, if you want to reach me directly, email me at .

Stay well, and keep on ringing!

Carlene Ruesenberg
Notes from THE CHAIR
Lisa Arnold, Area 1 Chair
Hello Area 1, I am writing this after wrapping up an historic first-of-its-kind 4-day National Seminar. The Handbell Musicians of America National Board and seminar planning team did an exceptional job at pulling together an all online seminar full of classes, conversations, and even great concerts.  ... . More
From the Editor:
THANK YOU! to all who contributed to this edition of the Area 1 newsletter.
And THANK YOU! to our advertizers. Check out what others are doing during this unusual time, from virtual ensembles, to solo ringing, bell trees, and repertoire lists for use with small groups. You get the idea. What are you doing musically these days? Does your musical future still include handbell ringing? What resources could Area 1 provide for you now? During this time it is often difficult to know what questions to ask. Perhaps this publication can act as a brainstorming forum often - Care to Share!
Notes from MAINE
Hello and greetings to Bell Ringers from across Maine. As you are aware, we are all experiencing the impact of Coronavirus in our lives, on so many events and celebrations, on activities involving wonderful traditions and on the health and welfare of our families and friends. Things have changed and we have to look at disappointments and how to pull together. When we notified you that the Maine Spring Ring would not go forward on March 28th due to the Coronavirus, we also indicated that we would continue to have conversations about the possibility of rescheduling to the Fall ... More
The Maine Spring Ring which was rescheduled to be held in October has been CANCELLED
Hey, everyone.
Here in New Hampshire, we’re all celebrating creative ways to stay connected, to support our communities, and to get back to ringing however we can.
Since most church groups traditionally take the summer off, and since there are still so many questions about what can and will happen in the future, many of our late-summer notes come from what members of the Granite State Ringers are doing (this is the community ensemble Heidi and I ring with) as well as various things we’ve seen shared on Facebook. ... More
Who We Are - A Bit of Our History
HMA - Who We Are*
Established in 1954, the American Guild of English Handbell Ringers grew out of the previously established New England Guild of English Handbell Ringers. In 2010, AGEHR became Handbell Musicians of America. It’s primary objectives are to educate, promote the exchange of ideas relating to handbell and handchime ringing, and sponsor educational activities. Our membership of approximately 7,000 includes mostly directors of handbell or handchime choirs. The Guild is divided into 12 two- to five-state areas, which are further divided into individual state and district units. Members of the the Handbell Musicians of America seek to carry out the motto, “Uniting People through a Musical Art.” ... More
By: Lorrie Simons, Handbell Director (and ringer)

I had the opportunity in July to attend, virtually, my first National Seminar! The cost of this event is usually prohibitive for me, but as it ended up being totally on-line, it became affordable!
I missed the social part - meeting new people, having conversations about what we just learned in a class, having meals together, etc., but there were a lot of positives about... More  
    By: Sue Wilber
Looking for something to do with handbells during your quarantine/down time that doesn’t require a large group of people?
Now is the absolute PERFECT time to try your hand at solo ringing!!! 
At the first Area I Festival/Conference I attended in 1989 at Roger Williams University, I became fascinated by several solo performances and attended a class on solo and / or ensemble ringing. I came home excited to try some of the things I learned and have never looked back.... More
Margaret H. Shurcliff
Leadership Award

Is there someone special you know who tirelessly promotes handbells and HMA for Area1?
Is there a teacher or director who had the patience and took the extra time to get you and your handbell group up to speed?
Just how much do they love and promote handbells?
Area 1 wants to know about them and reward them.
The level of some of our Area 1 talent rises above all others. And those are the people we will honor with the Area 1 Leadership Award, named for Margaret Shurcliff, who began the history of handbells in America right here in New England.... More
2020 Bell Tree Composition Contest 

The bell tree ringers from  Into the Forest  are sponsoring a composition contest for bell tree with handbell choir music. Deadline is August 15.
Prize is $2000. The bell tree community is seeking music to help move bell trees from the periphery into the mainstream by seeing more bell trees playing with handbell choirs in concerts, church services, and other venues.
We are defining the mainstream as handbell choirs who play level 2+ to 3 music and have 3 to 5 octaves of bells and probably chimes. We are seeking more music for this range.  Click here for Contest Narrative
Need 2 Octave Repertoire?
AGEHR Published Titles – music with no bell changes
In these unique times, if you are looking for music with no bell changes, AGEHR has published some*. These pieces vary in difficulty and range of bells, (2 to 6 octaves). All can be played with ringers at music stands or at separated tables... More
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Directors and Handbell Musicians are invited to submit articles for future publications.

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Next publication is scheduled for October 1
Articles must be submitted no later than September 18

Thank you!
If you have suggestions or questions regarding this or any other aspect of the Fundamental Tone ,
please contact the editor:
Fundamental Tone is a publication of the Handbell Musicians of America Area 1.
It is published six times a year: Feb. 1, Apr. 1, Jun. 1, Aug. 1, Oct. 1, Dec. 1.
Editorial copy and advertisements are due by the 18th of the month preceding publication.
Questions? Contact Donna M. Horan, Editor