Hello, Area 10 Friends!!!
My name is Corbin Rasmussen, I just finished my 9th year of teaching, eight of which have been at my current position at Rigby High School in Rigby, Idaho. I have been involved in music since I joined band in the 5th grade. I played percussion and also sang in a youth community choir. In high school, I dropped out of band and joined choir. I attended Washington State University for 2 years, and BYU-Idaho for 2 years, and earned my bachelor's degree in Music Education with an emphasis in Choral Music. My wife and I have 3 children, and we are celebrating 10 years of marriage this summer. But that’s the boring stuff. The story of how I was introduced to handbells is much more exciting and unorthodox.
8 years ago, I was hired at Rigby High School to teach choir. My predecessor and I met during the end of the school year to show me around the building and acclimate me to my new job. While he was showing me the choir library, he pointed to four black cases and said, “Oh, here is our 3-octave set of handbells, I haven’t done anything with them since I have been here, but if you want to take a crack at it, good luck.” Apparently, a previous choir director at Rigby High School got a grant for a 3-octave set of handbells in 1998, but the bells sat in their cases, untouched since 2004.
That is where my handbell journey began. During my first year of teaching at Rigby, I reached out to Phyllis Tincher to inquire about the handbells. During our phone call, she invited me to the first ever Snake River Handbell Conference. My wife and I attended and learned how to play bells while at the conference. We fell in love with it! I went back to Rigby, determined to share this with my students.
We started an after-school handbell club, and after one school year, I wrote a handbell curriculum so I could get the club turned into a class. The district approved the curriculum and a handbell class was now on the registrar. Unfortunately, not enough students signed up for it, so we had to continue to meet as an after-school club for another school year. Once again, we offered handbells as a class and this time we had enough students sign up for it to become a one-trimester class. I was ecstatic.
The class went great, so great in fact, that it was approved to be offered for two trimesters the next year. The next year went better than the first, so the class was approved to be offered all year. The class continued to grow, so after only one year of the class being offered as a yearlong class, we split it into an advanced handbell class, and a beginning handbell class, both of which meet all year. Currently, we are the only Public High School in Idaho with a handbell program.
Since revitalizing the handbell program, we have raised almost $40,000 in grants and donations, and we now own a 5-octave set of handbells and handchimes, a 3-octave set of handbells and handchimes, and we have plans to purchase the lower 6th and lower 7th octave of chimes, and a G2 this Summer.
This journey has been so much for me and my students. I love the handbell community and its welcoming nature. I am excited to see what else the future holds for our handbell program.