How to Read Handbell Music

You might be intimidated by handbell music the first time you see it. Reading handbell music takes a slightly different technique than reading music for other instruments. But with a little knowledge and a bit of practice, you can be reading handbell music with the rest of the handbell choir quickly and easily. Here's how to read handbell music and get ringing with the rest of the choir.

Ask your director to start you off on a simple song. Handbell music can be simple or complicated. Starting off with a simple rhythm and range can build your confidence as a handbell choir member.

Mark your music to help you read it. Circle or highlight your notes in the music to help you identify when it's your turn to ring. You should also mark rests and dynamics as well.

Count out loud as you read your music play. Since you're only playing one or two notes in the music, you need to find the rhythm in the song. Counting out loud keeps you on track as to where the song is going and helps you feel the music better.

Indicate on your music when you will be switching bells. Handbell music with key changes may require you to set down one bell and pick up another. Be sure to indicate when this happens directly in your music.

Practice, practice, practice. The more you play with your handbell choir, the more you will get the feel of how to read handbell music. Be sure to attend every practice and give your full attention to the choir director. That way you can get the most out of your time.

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