Ringing in Schools

Handbells in School

HRGB is keen to promote growth and help schools to teach music using this unique instrument

"The Cleves Handbell group has been going for several years and is run by our Music Specialist, Mr. Kilhams. It was set up with the help of the chairman from Handbell Ringers of Great Britain and has been so successful that we have started using handbells as part of the music curriculum. The level of musicianship the children get to in this group is inspiring and they have got national recognition for their efforts. Most recently they have been the first ever school handbell group to achieve their Level 1 ABRSM certificate and also their Level 2 ABRSM certificate. In 2019 they were asked to perform in a big concert in Windsor involving handbell groups from across the UK and it is safe to say they stole the show! They went on to make the front cover of a couple of magazines as well!" - Cleves School website

Is it difficult to play handbells?  The handbell is an amazing instrument. It is easy to learn how to ring and tunes can be rung successfully by novice teams very quickly. Teams can be formed using as few as eight bells, or up to seven octaves, that’s eighty-five bells!

Tune ringing on handbells is becoming increasingly popular in schools in many countries because handbells are relatively simple to play and because musical playing requires pupils to listen carefully to each other and work as a team - an ensemble.

A wide variety of music is available, from plainsong to Snow Patrol and from Bach to the Beatles. In addition, other instruments which use the same simple playing technique are now widely (and relatively inexpensively) available - handchimes and Belleplates®. But they are all members of the handbell “family”.

Why handbell (handchime, Belleplate®) ringing? What do pupils get from it?   Despite the fact that handbells are an English instrument (they are called ‘English Handbells’ in other parts of the world) most English schools have traditionally used recorders and, more recently, a wide range of orchestral instruments to teach ensemble playing. See this delightful group playing Belleplates® .

However, handbells have some key advantages over these instruments: “It has taught them skills which are transferable into and from other disciplines and areas of life - team work, how to handle nerves, how to carry on when things go wrong (not give up), the importance of presentation” -Teacher in Surrey