Creative Solutions for a Shrinking Handbell Ensemble

Friday, January 26, 2024 • 4:30 PM EST
Presenter: Pamela “P.L.” Grove

In the post-COVID handbell world, many churches and communities are having to make do with fewer ringers. So how do we do that? How do we survive a season with only 6 ringers? And how do we handle it when one week there are 10 ringers and the next week there are only 8? This session will give some tips and tricks – mostly focused on music selection – for continuing to ring throughout season of the shrinking handbell ensemble.

About P.L.

Pamela “P.L.” Grove has been a handbell ringer and director for more than 45 years. As a founding ringer with the critically acclaimed Sonos Handbell Ensemble, her more notable performances included those with the San Francisco Girls Chorus, the San Francisco Symphony Chorus, the Kronos Quartet, Frederica von Stade and twice on Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion. She served as artistic director for Velocity Handbell Ensemble for over 20 years, has rung at several Distinctly Bronze events, was the Distinctly Bronze West Chair from 2014 to 2016, represented the United States as the director at the 18th International Handbell Symposium in Australia, and rang in the inaugural Zenith event in 2023. She is one of a few people to have completed a bachelor’s degree in handbell performance and is a Past President of Handbell Musicians of America. Retired from her work as a government public information officer, P.L. currently works as a church vocal choir director and spends as much time as possible making music.

00:08:08 Pamela Grove: I can’t unmute myself – you have the controls
00:14:40 Wes Livingston: If I have to turn my camera off, it’s only because i’m being attacked by my pooches
00:15:11 Danielle Erdley (she/her): Reacted to “If I have to turn my…” with 😂
00:16:12 Kathryn Jurado: Reacted to “If I have to turn my…” with 😆
00:28:29 Linda Lorgus: Kathie Lowrie at Choristers Guild. She’s great!
00:29:07 Kathryn Jurado: Reacted to “Kathie Lowrie at Cho…” with ❤️
00:29:24 caroledwards: Replying to “Kathie Lowrie at Cho…”

i bet you know lots of these names
00:32:15 Erik: I find myself needing music for 1.5 octave plus solo bass ringer – intended for a six or seven person ensemble with one or two standout ringers and the rest play a traditional two-bell spot
00:33:07 Nan: Are these licensed under CCLI?
00:33:35 Erik: Reacted to “Are these licensed u…” with 👍
00:35:37 Linda Lorgus: Check CCLI AND One License
00:35:43 Rick Holdsworth: if not CCLI probably under
00:36:26 Fernanda: You can usually check online which pieces/publishers/etc. are covered by a given streaming license.
00:36:49 Debbie: does the Hope publishing site allow you to see a preview of the music and or have recordings?
00:37:44 Linda Lorgus: More copyright info from Hope Publishing’s website:
00:39:13 Kathryn Jurado: does the Hope publishing site allow you to see a preview of the music and or have recordings?
Yes! In fact, they have a lot of their pieces, especially newer ones as a youtube video that you can hear the music and see the score scrolling while the music is playing. Very helpful.
00:39:26 Debbie Henning: Some of the newer items might not appear on CCLI. You can contact Hope copyright and they will help you.
00:39:38 Linda Lorgus: Reacted to “Some of the newer it…” with 👍
00:39:40 Debbie: Reacted to “does the Hope publis…” with 👍
00:39:52 Sue Retzlaff: Sandra Eithun has 2 books for 1.5 octaves and keys
00:40:37 Kathryn Jurado: Reacted to “Sandra Eithun has 2 …” with ❤️
00:55:21 Cecilia Tucker Myers: Please play some examples
00:57:35 Erik: knowing this piece as you do – could you put on your “assignment” cap for a moment and talk about how many people you would say you would need to do this piece justice?
00:58:00 Nan: Is this 2 or 3 octaves?
00:59:00 Linda Lorgus: Good piece! FYI – it’s listed as Level 3
01:01:40 Cathy Marker: martin
01:06:45 Debbie Waters: Very pretty
01:08:09 Cecilia Tucker Myers: Thanks so very much for this amazing wealth of resources.
01:08:52 caroledwards: Yes thank you. Very informative — now i’ll catch your next one from the recording.
01:09:51 Lynn Barber WSO: How do we get the handout that was mentioned?
01:10:55 Rick Holdsworth: thanks
01:11:26 Marie: Thank you PL
01:11:43 Wes Livingston: Thank you very much, P.L. Loved your session
01:11:48 Fernanda: Thank you!
01:11:59 Carlos Rivera: Gracias!!!

Jason Krug – Jason W. Krug is a native of Indianapolis, IN.  He holds a degree in music from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  Jason is a full-time freelance composer, arranger, clinician, and teacher. Since his first publication in 2006, he’s had over 400 compositions and arrangements accepted for handbells, piano, strings, organ, and choir.  His works have been featured at numerous festivals and workshops in the United States and beyond. In his spare time, Jason enjoys writing.  He has spent several years working on a young adult fantasy series, The Sadonian Chronicles, and recently released his first non-fiction book, The General Theory of Creativity.  He frequently participates in the National Novel Writing Month event in November. Jason continues to live in Indianapolis with his wife, Ellen, and his sons, Daniel and Malcolm.  You can find him on the web at 

Leslie Lewis – Leslie Lewis has been ringing handbells since 1979 when she was introduced to them at the Montreat Worship and Music Conference.  Leslie has been ringing in the bass section for Distinctly Bronze East since the event began in 1999 and added Distinctly Bronze West in 2019; she also participated in the Distinctly Bronze European Tour in 2007.  She has rung low bass in many area and national All Star Choirs, and at Virtuoso 2017 and 2019, sharing the stage with the Raleigh Ringers for the final concert. Leslie  rings with Queen City Ringers based in Charlotte, NC, where she also serves as treasurer, and is treasurer for Area 3 of the Handbell Musicians of America.  She enjoys substituting for choirs in the Gastonia and Charlotte areas and dabbles in solo ringing.  Having added the lower 6th and 7th octave chimes to her growing set of handbell “toys” she hopes to offer her services to add the lower chimes for groups that don’t have them available once ringing returns to “normal” in the area.  After graduating from North Carolina State University with a degree in computer science, Leslie worked for IBM and First Union National Bank for a combined 15 years before turning a part-time role preparing income taxes into a career.  Leslie is president of Unified Income Taxes and Accounting, Inc., in Gastonia, NC, where she prepares all types of tax returns and, as an enrolled agent, represents clients during IRS tax audits and appeals. Leslie served as director of commission accounting for a Charlotte-based brokerage firm with branches in seventeen states from 2009 to 2015, when she left to pursue the role of chief accounting officer for a commercial aircraft maintenance, repair, and overhaul station located in Medley, FL. Other than bells, Leslie enjoys playing golf and walking on the beach as a precursor to life after retirement.

Bruna Marinho – Bruna Marinho is an energetic handbell ringer, pianist, and music teacher based in SãoPaulo, Brazil. She is the founder of ​Handbells Brasil​, an organization that promotes the art of handbells in Brazil through performance and education. Bruna graduated in 2014 with a degree in music education from Catholic University of Santos. Bruna first encountered handbells in 2016 as a part of a music exchange led by Dr. Moorman-Stahlman from Lebanon Valley College in Annville, PA. Inspired by this experience, she organized a free handbell workshop in Brazil that was attended by about 40 students. Since 2017, Handbells Brasil has played in community venues and churches and has developed music education programs in elementary schools. In 2018, Handbells Brasil received a donation of three octaves of Whitechapel handbells from a church in Pennsylvania and the organization has purchased two octaves of Malmark handchimes. Bruna is the Malmark representative for Brazil. To promote the art of handbells in Brazil, Bruna spent about six months as a music ministry intern at St. Andrew Presbyterian Church, in Iowa City, IA, and attended the HMA National Seminar in Grand Rapids, MI. She recently created a series of comedy handbell videos on YouTube as a way to engage people and spread the joy of handbells.

Stevie Berryman – Stevie Berryman is astonishingly good at the game Boggle. She can fold a fitted sheet so it looks like it came right out of the package. Likewise, her skills as music director and teacher have also been acquired through long hours of arduous and dedicated practice. For much of her career Stevie has directed seven or more ensembles each week, meaning she has 98 years of experience (in dog years). Her effusive energy and wild creativity found a perfect setting in 2013 when she became the Artistic Director of the Houston Chamber Ringers, which has let her smash together her love for music, laughter, and tacos in a truly remarkable way. She has a particular passion for teaching children how to ring, and her innovative methods have made her a sought-after educator at area and national handbell festivals. Stevie loves helping other choirs as a private clinician, or planning epic concerts for them as a creative consultant. Her next step in global domination is to take over the card game world with the company she owns and founded with her husband, Paul, Truly Horrible Things. In real life she is the handbell director at First Congregational Church in Houston, TX.

Lisa Arnold – Lisa Arnold started ringing in 1976 with the Wesley Bell Ringers of Salt Lake City, UT, and toured for four summers, performing in 49 states and nine Canadian provinces. The first community handbell ensemble Lisa rang with was Bay Bells in San Jose, CA, and has been a member of the Merrimack Valley Ringers since 2010 when she moved back to New England. Lisa has regularly taught workshops at Area 1 Spring Rings and festivals in topics such as exercises for ringers, bass bell technique, weaving, solo ringing, and handbell notation. Lisa and her husband, Chuck, use handbells as an excuse to travel and ring all over the world. She spends her free time learning Italian and riding bicycles. Lisa serves as Past-Chair of Area 1 of Handbell Musicians of America.


Mark Arnold – Mark Arnold has been an active church musician for most of his life, currently serving as Director of Handbell Ministries at the First Baptist Church of Keller, TX. He is a graduate of the University of Kansas, with bachelor’s degrees in music education and music theory and advanced study in computer science. Mark’s professional experience includes many years of directing handbells, teaching school orchestras, leading adult and children’s choirs, playing horn in community ensembles, and an occasional gig playing bass in jazz or rock groups. In addition to leading workshops and clinics, he has published arrangements for both brass and handbell ensembles. In his “spare” time, he manages software development projects for a major North American transportation provider. Mark and his wife, Robin, have three grown children and reside in Fort Worth, TX.


Ed Rollins – Ed Rollins is the Artistic Director and Conductor of the Columbia Handbell Ensemble, a position he has held since 2006. The ensemble has performed on four occasions for HMA national events and numerous regional and area events. For the last 20 months, Ed served as Interim Executive Director of HMA. He has been active in this organization for many years, serving as Missouri State treasurer, Missouri State chair, Area 8 chair on two occasions, area representative to the national board, and President of the board of directors.  For 31 years, Ed was associate pastor for music and administration at First Baptist Church of Columbia. During his tenure at the church, he promoted many ecumenical concerts (including the 9/11 Memorial Concert and the 10th Anniversary Memorial Concert), created an extensive program of liturgical art, and co-founded the highly successful Odyssey Chamber Music Series.  Ed is married to Jess Wolfe, a teacher with Columbia Public Schools. He has four terrific step-kids, and in March he and Jess welcomed Iris Mae Wolfe Rollins into the family.


Karen Van Wert – With an insatiable thirst for knowledge and a passion to share what she has learned, Karen Van Wert is at home in a classroom or at the podium. She will tell you, “There is nothing more rewarding than witnessing a ringer grasping a concept and executing it in their music. Building skills and instilling confidence in a ringer is the goal of every rehearsal, for then we can make music.”  Karen and her bellboy, James, make their home in Savage, MN.


Barb Walsh – Barb Walsh has been the Northern Nevada/Eastern Sierra Regional Coordinator for Area 12 of Handbell Musicians of America since 1993, and was a public school music teacher in the Reno/Sparks, NV, area for 33 years. She received Educator of the Year Award from the Nevada Music Educators Association in 2014. She has developed handbell programs ranging from elementary school children to the adult community group, Tintabulations, known for their high energy, innovation, and musicianship. When not teaching, directing, or ringing, Barb plays flute and piccolo in local orchestras and shares backcountry adventures with her husband, dog, and horses. 


Linda Krantz – Linda Krantz is an accomplished and widely recognized solo handbell artist, has an active performing career, and regularly teaches at the local, regional, and national level. Linda’s greatest love is to perform solo concerts, where she most enjoys playing classical music. She has performed as far away as Paris, and most recently with David Lockington, cellist and maestro of the Pasadena Symphony. Linda was a student of Nancy Hascall, learning all she could about traveling four-in-hand (4iH) and the nuances of artistic solo ringing. Linda is a founding member and president of L.A. Bronze, a past president and current advisory board member of the Pasadena Symphony, and a founding artist and past board member of Timbré. She has served as secretary of the Area 12 board of Handbell Musicians of America, and currently serves on the National Development Committee for Handbell Musicians of America.