From time to time, Summit musicians enjoy playing handbells. Playing with handbells provides opportunities for:
- Understanding that each pitch has a name, pitches can be naturals or accidentals, accidentals have more than one name (a sharp name and a flat name)
- Performing with others requires taking turns and being focused even when it isn’t your turn yet.
- Observing that not all pitches are used with the same frequency within a piece. Also, sometimes there are more than one pitch with the same name (a high A and a low A for example).
- Practical experience with what we refer to as the “Handbell Strategy” among older students: if you are not prepared to play all of a piece, pick parts you can do and play those correctly. Lots of people playing just a few notes each can make great music!
- Occasionally adding other single-pitch or novel instruments (steel drum, Boomwhackers); joining in with single notes or a few as students become more comfortable with the instrument.
Our handbell experiences are modified across ages to best fit student development. Younger students play with only a few naturals only, reinforcing letter names and turn taking. Elementary students perform with pitch names written out for more complicated songs and are introduced to standard notation with fewer pitches. Older students continue using pitch names and also perform using standard notation, experiencing faster tempos, chords, and more complicated music forms.
Cultivating life long learners is a core mission of the Summit, and we aim to prepare Summit musicians to be participants in and creators of music, no matter what their chosen vocation. Performing with handbells is one of many ways that musicians can enjoy music for a lifetime!