The Director as Diagnostician: Handbell Techniques

Ben Harris

Monday, June 20, 10 AM

Most, if not virtually all, musicality problems in handbells are rooted in technique problems. Many directors are often the one most passionate about handbells or the one who’s been in the ensemble the longest; many without much (if any) music training or handbell technique training/coaching. Even directors with a music background (choral directors or organists) may not have any or only minimal training in handbell techniques. To achieve musicality with handbells; the director needs the skills to diagnose the problem (why doesn’t it sound right?) – usually as the piece is being rehearsed – and prescribe/describe the solution (fix) to the ringers immediately. MUSICALITY is the goal – not technique simply for technique’s sake. Handbell examples and excerpts will be rung and reviewed for a “hands-on” understanding of how technique affects musicality.

Ben Harris has been "addicted" to handbells since 1980. He graduated from Concordia University (St. Paul, MN) with Elementary Education and Director of Christian Education degrees and later earned a Master of Music degree in organ performance from Rice University (Houston, TX). Ben currently rings with Houston Bronze Ensemble and was the Conductor and Artistic Director from 2006 to 2010. To financially support his habit, Ben is a project manager for HP Inc. and volunteers as handbell director at Trinity Lutheran Church in Spring, TX. Before joining HP, he served as Director of Music/Organist at various churches in Minnesota and Texas.