If you love the sound of handbells, you won't want to miss Simsbury Rings, a free handbell concert that showcases the talent and diversity of Simsbury's handbell choirs. The concert will take place on Saturday, May 6th at 7:00 pm at the Simsbury United Methodist Church (SUMC).
Simsbury Rings is an annual event that brings together adult and children handbell choirs from Simsbury's First Church of Christ, St. Mary's Church, and SUMC. The choirs will perform a variety of musical styles, from classical to contemporary, and will also join forces for a massed ringing finale.
Handbells are musical instruments that consist of tuned metal bells that are played by ringing them with a clapper. Handbell choirs typically use multiple sets of handbells that cover different octaves and pitches. Handbell music requires coordination, teamwork, and musicality from the ringers.
Simsbury Rings is a free event that is open to the public. Donations will be accepted to support the handbell programs of the participating churches. Come and enjoy an evening of beautiful handbell music and support Simsbury's handbell community.
Handbells have a long and rich history that spans across different cultures and continents. The earliest handbells were probably made of copper or bronze and were used for rituals, ceremonies, and signaling. [^2^] [^3^] Handbells were also associated with fertility, healing, and protection from evil spirits. [^3^]
The modern handbell was developed in England in the 17th and 18th centuries by brothers Robert and William Cor, who tuned their bells more finely and fitted them with hinged clappers. [^2^] These handbells were used by tower bell ringers to practice change ringing, a complex method of ringing bells in mathematical patterns. [^2^] [^4^] Later, handbell ringers began to play tunes and melodies with their bells, expanding their range and repertoire. [^2^]
Handbell music spread to other countries, such as the United States, where it was introduced by Margaret Shurcliff in 1902. [^2^] Today, handbell choirs are popular in churches, schools, community groups, and professional ensembles. Handbell music covers a wide spectrum of genres, from classical to pop, and often incorporates other instruments and vocalists. Handbell music is also a source of joy, creativity, and fellowship for ringers and audiences alike.
Handbell music is not only about ringing the bells, but also about using different techniques to create different sounds and effects. Some of the most common techniques are: [^2^] [^3^]
Damping: stopping the sound of a bell by touching it to your shoulder, chest, table, or another bell. This can create staccato (short and detached) notes or silence unwanted vibrations.
Thumb damp: damping a bell with your thumb while holding another bell in the same hand. This can create a harmonic effect or allow you to play two bells at once.
Malleting: striking a bell with a mallet (a small wooden or rubber hammer) instead of ringing it. This can create a percussive sound or allow you to play multiple bells at once.
Martellato: striking a bell on the table with force and damping it immediately. This can create a loud and accented note.
Shake: shaking a bell rapidly to create a trill (a rapid alternation between two notes).
Brush: brushing a bell against another bell to create a glissando (a slide between two notes).
Echo: damping a bell slightly away from your body to create a softer and echo-like sound.
Handbell music often uses symbols and abbreviations to indicate these techniques. For example, TD means thumb damp, M means mallet, + means martellato, SK means shake, BR means brush, and E means echo. [^3^] You will need to learn how to read and interpret these symbols as you play.
Handbell music also requires coordination, concentration, and teamwork. You will need to follow the music carefully and ring your bells at the right time and with the right technique. You will also need to listen to the other ringers and blend your sound with theirs. Handbell music can be challenging, but also rewarding and fun. You will be able to play beautiful melodies and harmonies with your bells and share them with others. aa16f39245