Q: What is a Handbell?


A handbell is a type of bell that is designed to be rung by the human hand. To ring a handbell, a ringer moves the wrist to make the clapper strike the inside surface of the bell. The tone of the bell will continue to resonate, fading away naturally, or until the ringer stops the tone by damping the bell.


Q: Who plays Handbells?


A handbell ensemble or handbell choir is a large group of people that ring recognizable music with melodies and harmony. Handbell choirs are often found at schools, churches and in community music ensembles. Handbells can also be played solo or in smaller chamber ensembles. You will often have the opportunity to hear handbells in concert during the Christmas season. Handbell ensembles ring in the holidays with delightful sounds, which are delicate and pleasant.


Q: Is it difficult to ring Handbells?


Anyone can make a beautiful tone on a handbell. However, learning to ring loudly and softly, to start and stop the tone cleanly, and to shape the sound, are things that take a little while to master. Fortunately, these skills are easily obtained with practice.


Q: Can children ring Handbells?


Handbell music can be easy, fun and soothing for children. Participating in a handbell ensemble can help children build confidence, social skills, discipline and an appreciation of music. By ringing the handbells, children know that they are doing something they can be proud of.  Uchida handbells are especially suited for children's music making because of their lightweight.


Q: What is the best way to ring Handbells?


When ringing handbells, be careful to avoid looking like you are punching the handbell (a straight forward-and-back motion) or like you are swatting flies (an uncontrolled up-and-down motion). Your goal is to ring the bell by snapping the wrist, and to shape the sound by moving the arm up and out in a gentle circular motion.


Q: What is the difference between playing in a

      handbell choir versus other musical ensembles?


Unlike an orchestra or choir in which each player is responsible for one line of the texture, a handbell choir acts as one instrument, with each player responsible for just particular notes, ringing his or her assigned handbells whenever those notes appear in the music. However, handbells can also be played by a soloist or by small ensembles where each person plays a single line of the texture.


Q: Is there any music composed specifically for



Handbell choirs generally play music composed or arranged specifically for the instruments because of their highly resonant sound, the limited note range of a handbell set, and the unique pitch-by-pitch division of the staff among the players.


Q: How do I care for the Handbells?


Although little maintenance is required, the proper care, handling, and polishing of handbells should be carried out by the owners. Be careful to avoid dropping handbells, hitting them against each other, or otherwise subjecting them to hard impact. Dents in the handbells can not only cause them to be less pretty, but also to go out of tune. Owners are encouraged to wear clean, lint-free gloves when handling the bells. In addition, an occasional polishing with a good-quality polish will help preserve the handbells’ finish and appearance.


Q: How should I store the Handbells when they are not

     in use?


Handbells are relatively self-contained instruments and need little in the way of support equipment. We sell handbells with or without hard shell cases or bell stands. You can buy cases and stands if your handbells do not come with them. Handbells should be stored in the cases or stands when not in use.


Q. Do Uchida Handbells ring in one direction only or

      can they be rung in any direction?


Yes, they can be rung in any direction. For this reason there is no need to worry about orienting the bell the right way in order to get a sound.


Q. Is it possible to stack Uchida Handbells for four-in-

     hand ringing?


Yes, Uchida Handbells can be stacked so that you can play two in each hand for harmonic stacking.


Q: What ringing techniques are possible on Uchida



Besides traditional ringing, the Uchida Handbells are great at harmonic stacking to play chords, martellato (tapping the bells against a padded table) , tremolo (shaking the bells as in the Swiss folk style) and the Excellent line also produces a nice tone when struck with mallets.


Q: Where can I find Resources and Support?


One of the best sources of information for handbell ringers in the United States is the organization Handbell Musicians of America. They can advise you on music resources, performance tips and training materials.  They also provide seminars throughout the nation and publish the bimonthly "Overtones" magazine, an invaluable resource for both new and experienced ringers.



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