The Newsletter of Area 1 Handbell Musicians of America | Vol. XXXVII No. 3 | June 2022
Report from Interim Co-Chair
Carlene Ruesenberg
What an interesting year this has been! We are so glad to be playing bells again! I had a great time attending both the Maine Spring Ring and the Massachusetts Spring Ring, and I’m looking forward to seeing many of you at the University of Hartford!

We have experienced an unusual turnover of our Board structure, which is one reason why I am writing to you now as an “Interim Co-Chair”. When Joy Toll-Chandler resigned as Chair in April, Lisa Arnold, our Past Chair, stepped in briefly to the Chair position. After conferring with the National Office about the unusual situation of having vacancies in both the Chair-Elect and the Chair positions, they suggested we take a step back and regroup with past leadership, at least for the short term. The Board agreed, and voted to appoint Jean Degan and myself as Interim Co-Chairs until we can hold a special election to fill the vacancy in the Chair-Elect position.

Jean and I are currently working to find two candidates and hold the election in September. Once the results are tallied and announced, that person will become Chair-Elect until June of 2023. At that time, they will become Chair, in accordance with our current By-Laws. Keep an eye out for a ballot to come in your ‘snail mail’ in late August so that you can vote for one of our new candidates.

As you know, the Board voted to move forward with presenting Festival/Conference this year at the University of Hartford as planned. While there were several people who felt this was the wrong decision, we had several people respond with the question, “What can I do to help?” We had a terrific response from people who were willing to sponsor the event, donate their stipends, or just lend a hand. We are truly grateful to everyone who are supporting us as we work to foster our community through the art of handbells. The COVID-19 pandemic has created some difficult challenges, but I am optimistic that this event will be the catalyst we need to keep moving forward as we rebuild our handbell programs across the Area.

In the months to come, we will be reaching out to you to find out what kinds of events you would like us to offer in the future. While Festival/Conference has always been the highlight for most of our members, we understand that some people aren’t yet comfortable with large gatherings, or aren’t willing or able to drive long distances for a handbell event. We want to know what YOU want. You will be hearing from your State Chair this summer as we would really like to have a conversation about what you would like to see Area 1 do to support your love and dedication to the art of handbell ringing.

Thank you for hanging in there with us! We look forward to making music with you in the coming year!

Happy ringing,
Carlene Ruesenberg, Area 1 Interim Co-Chair and Festival Conference Chair
Looking forward to reconnecting at Festival Conference!
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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

Meet Lauren Larson, Area 1 Treasurer

In early April of this year, Lauren Larson joined Area 1 leadership in the pivotal role of Treasurer. As our Bylaws indicate, Lauren was voted in as Treasurer by the Board to fill the remainder of Daryl Markey's term. Here are just a few fun facts about Lauren.

How long have you been involved with handbells and in what capacities?
I watched my boyfriend, now husband, Pete Larson, ring handbells with New England Ringers during college. NER's Director at the time, Ed Henderson generously let me try ringing and found ways to help me learn. When I graduated in 2006, I joined Shoreline Ringers under the direction of Jane Nolan and have been involved with that community ensemble ever since.

Describe your leadership/involvement with HMA Area 1, or other handbell-related organizations.
This is my first official leadership role with HMA at any level, which has been a long time coming! Over the last decade, I have slowly been getting more involved in Area 1 Festival Conference as a teacher and helping with setup and cleanup. I'm also currently on the board for Shoreline Ringers and am responsible for scheduling their events among other things. Previously, I was the Shoreline Ringers' treasurer.

Do you have other hobbies/interests that are pertinent to this Area 1 leadership role?
Do running/fitness and archery help manage finances? No? I also got a certificate in data analytics for fun last year and am an engineer by training with years of program management experience at work. While not hobbies per se, these highlight my interest in numbers, problem solving, and organizational skills.

What compelled you to serve as Treasurer and what do you hope to accomplish in this role?
Pete has been involved in HMA for many years, and it has been wonderful to see some of the behind-the-scenes work that makes Area 1 run. For a few years, I've wanted to get more involved to learn even more, but the timing was never right. Now that I've taken the leap to Treasurer, I plan to continue the financial stewardship my predecessors have established by looking for more opportunities to provide the most value to our members. My goal is to enable the rest of the Area 1 Board to focus on their jobs without being hindered or distracted by the finances.
The Power of Self-Confidence
Guest article submitted by Steve Mazeau, SnagASub Coordinator
While we like to describe handbell workshops as "skill building", I feel the real culprit, hiding in the shadows, is a lack of self-confidence. I see this in people who sit in the pews and say how nice the bells sound, and they want to try it, but their lack of self-confidence holds them back. I see this in ringers who are actually pretty good, but seem to lack the self-confidence to try something new. I also see this in directors who are comfortable leading their groups for many years in their "home" church, but then lack the self-confidence to join HMA because they feel that they won't measure up to the expectations of either their ringers or other directors they meet in a community setting. In a similar way, self-confidence is also a critical element in the art of public speaking. Continue reading full article here...
Suzanne Neafus, Connecticut State Chair

Festival Conference 2022 is almost upon us. I am looking forward to seeing old friends and meeting new people there. If you are not registered, please consider attending the final concert.
If you have never seen a mass ring - you will be fascinated by the experience of so many bells together. One of my co-workers attended last time and continues to rave about how much they enjoyed it. The combination of the visual of watching the motion of the ringing and hearing the different techniques and instrumentation used was like nothing they had ever experienced before.

In the August Fundamental Tone, I would love to highlight any ringing or ringing-related events that occur over the summer. This includes Festival Conference. So, be it a get-together, a polish party, regular practice, or a performance, send me an email with some details and perhaps a photo or two.

Lastly, there will be a committee meeting this summer about a possible fall event or gathering. Please let me know if you would like to take part.  The survey asking for suggestions is still open. Click on the link below to fill it out if you have not already done so.

Best wishes, and I hope to see you at UHART.
Suzanne Neafus, CT State Chair

P.S. I was recently reminded about the handbell portion of the digital display at the Bushnell Theater in Hartford. You may recognize a few Connecticut ringers in the performance.
Notes from MAINE
Dana Humphreys, Maine State Chair
Hello Maine Ringers!
Shortly after our Maine Spring Ring Workshop, an evaluation of the event was sent out, and I was so happy to see that the overall response was very positive. Ringers were happy to be back ringing together, socializing and networking. We received very helpful opinions and ideas on the structure of the day (a return to optional workshops was very popular), the food (“amazing breakfast food selection”), the music selections and whether to include an Advent/Christmas piece in our next repertoire (overwhelming “Yes”). The Planning Committee members have heard your comments and will be considering all of them when we begin to organize the next Spring Ring – and it’s looking like it may be in March 2023!

And a shout out to the absolutely awesome Spring Ring Planning Committee – Kim Visbaras (Auburn Methodist Ringers, Towne Lyne Ringers and Tins Conductor), Amy Rollins (Penobscot Bay Ringers), Debbie Hillman (Auburn Methodist Ringers), Gail Kelly (Over the River Ringers) and Laura Begenwald (Winthrop Area Handbell Ringers). They research the music selections, plan the workshops and the food and the vendors, secure the venue, design the programs, print the name tags, tape the gym floor, bring in the food, and do whatever they can to give all our ringers a fun and enjoyable day.

Are you a director who needs a substitute ringer for one or more rehearsals or a performance? Are you a ringer who would like to do more ringing and would enjoy playing with other bell groups? Then check out the Area 1 Snag A Sub program organized by Steven Mazeau. This program was set up in 2015 to help directors find substitutes and for ringers to have the opportunity to play with different groups and meet new people. In Maine, we only have three people on the list and it would be great to add more ringers. To learn more about the program, click here for the webpage and Steve’s contact information. I just added my name to the list as an available ringer, and I would enjoy playing with bell groups in the Portland/Lewiston/Augusta area.

Our regular group ringing season will soon be taking a break for the summer. I hope you all enjoy either a little time off or perhaps look for other ringing opportunities at summer churches or festivals. Keep an eye on the Handbell Musicians of America website for ideas!

All the best,
Dana Humphreys, ME State Chair
Abigail Schoppe, Massachusetts State Chair
We did it!

Specifically, we successfully reconvened for MA Spring Ring for the first time since 2019! On April 2, 94 ringers and directors gathered in Tewksbury, for a wonderful day of ringing directed by Diane Burke. (see photos below)

Attendees included ringers from 4 of the 6 New England States, as well as ringers from Alabama and Colorado! It’s also worth noting that, for over 50% of attendees, this was the first Spring Ring, while some of the “usual” choirs were absent because of pandemic complications. This gives me great hope that next year will be even better attended, if we can retain the newer choirs and bring back long-time participants too!

Huge thanks to all of the Spring Ring committee (Diane Burke, Ed Henderson, Sue Lee, and Karen Leonard) for helping to make the day so successful, and thanks also to Karen Quist for running the consignment sales!

While we are never able to finalize the date for Spring Ring until the preceding fall, due to the need to coordinate with Tewksbury High School, please tentatively save the date for April 1, 2023. This is not an April Fools’ joke: that’s our projected date for the 35th Annual MA Spring Ring, to be conducted by Karen Leonard and Ed Henderson. We hope to see you there!

Abby Schoppe, MA State Chair
Kim Whitehead, New Hampshire State Chair

We are pleased to announce that Kim Whitehead has recently agreed to serve as our New Hampshire State Chair. Welcome aboard, Kim!

Watch for more information about Kim in the next issue of Fundamental Tone.
Rhode Island: currently open
Vermont: Pat Pranger,

Contact Interim Co-Chairs, Jean Degan and Carlene Ruesenberg, if you are interested in serving.
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