• Malmark will be closed Friday, May 24th - Monday, May 27th in observance of Memorial Day. We will re-open on Tuesday, May 28th at 8:00 a.m.

  • Web Only Special - Free shipping within the continental US on Gloves, Mallets and selected Polishing Aides.


Malmark takes pride in offering handbell handles that are comfortable, durable, and visually helpful for ringers of all levels. As the original manufacturer of keyboard color-coded handles in black and white, it is easy for ringers and directors to find the correct bell at a glance. We also offer custom inscriptions that are printed on gold leaf paper and permanently inserted inside the handle, a feature that is exclusive to Malmark.


The sub-assembly of the handle begins with an insert layer of polypropylene, silk screened with note designation and colophon image. This layer is then reinforced with two layers of clear Duralin extrusion, providing strength and preventing complete breaking. Our handles are the only ones that encase note designations to prevent rubbing or peeling and have a smooth outer layer and soft edges for a comfortable ringing experience.


 A Malmark handle should never break from the rest of the handbell. In fact, a complete break is nearly impossible with routine maintenance. Due to vibrations during ringing, main assembly screws and handle screws/couplers loosen over time and should be tightened periodically. The main assembly screw serves as the spine of the handbell and must be secure to prevent undue stress on the assembly and maintain proper alignment. Also, handle screws/couplers should be tightened to prevent hairline cracks from occurring on the handle extrusion. While cracks never penetrate through all three layers, to ensure that your handles maintain good condition for many years, tighten on a regular schedule depending on frequency of use. Two No. 2 Phillips-head screwdrivers and one flathead screwdriver with ¼” wide blade are all that is needed.


Since October 1984, Malmark offers a Lifetime Warranty on complete handbells to the original purchaser. Under our Replacement Handle/Handguard Policy, parts that are cracked across the full width may be replaced at no charge. To order replacement handles and handguards under warranty, simply send us an email at [email protected] with the complete name and address of the organization that owns the handbell set, a list of the parts that need replacement, and photos of the cracked originals showing the note designation. If inscriptions are needed, please note that there are inscriptions in the handles and include the desired inscription text. There is a $3.50 charge for each inscription needing replacement.


Choose Malmark for quality handles that are comfortable, long-lasting, and designed for beginners and seasoned ringers alike.

At Malmark, we are committed to helping you and your ringing program succeed. We offer the information below to help you ease back into the program year with confidence. Ringing programs can be successful during this COVID-19 time by following suggested guidelines for safety and choosing options that are right for your community.

We encourage you to review the guidelines frequently and highlight important points below:

• All participants should monitor their temperatures before rehearsal.

• Rehearse in a large space or outdoors if possible. (Learn more here about ringing outdoors.)

• Wear masks and social distance by six feet at least.

• Rehearse with smaller groups of ringers if possible.

• Ringers should use the same handbells/handchimes throughout the rehearsal. Do not share instruments or change positions during the rehearsal.

• Gloves should be worn during rehearsal and laundered after each rehearsal.

• If possible, each ringer should have their own score and music binder or floor stand.

• Limit techniques that require handling the clapperhead as they are difficult to sanitize.

• Be sure to sanitize handbell handles, handchime tubes, mallet shafts and singing bell sticks after each rehearsal.

Perhaps the easiest way to ease you and your ringers back into rehearsal would be to form small groups. There are new resources being composed daily to accommodate the demand for music for smaller ensembles.

8 to 12 Bell Music

• Create smaller ensembles of four-six ringers using 8 or 12 handbells or handchimes. There are a number of ways that these groups can be formed: choose ringers from the same family; choose ringers who have the same level of skill or involve those who can’t commit to an entire year of ringing but may be able to participate for a cycle of 4 – 6 weeks.

• These smaller ensembles do not require bell changes and therefore, do not need tables. If you are short on rehearsal or performance space, this may be the perfect solution to social distancing while ringing as you can space your ringers throughout the room with music floor stands.

• There are more resources being published for these small ensembles especially during this time. We’ve compiled a list of 8 – 12 repertoire suggestions for you. Revisit the list often as it will expand.

Social distancing while ringing may be difficult if you do not have space however, we have a solution for you:

Repertoire without Bell Changes

• If you have space to social distance 11 or more ringers without tables, consider choosing music that has been written for a full choir without key changes. Each ringer in the three octave range of C4 to C7 would have two handbells and could each ring in front of a music floor stand. If space is available, you might consider two – three tables spaced around the venue for bass bell ringers. Another option would be to have more bass ringers using music floor stands as well. Keep in mind the weight of the C3 – B3 handbells and having tables would be ideal!

• We are pleased to offer this list of repertoire that does not require bell changes and therefore, can be rung with ringers standing in front of floor stands.

If space is available, you can assign each ringer to their own table. The one consideration is that the ringers cannot share handbells during rehearsal under COVID-19 safety guidelines.

Repertoire with No Shared or Borrowed Bells

• Socially distancing ringers at tables will require a large amount of space and if you’re lucky enough to be able to place ringers at tables that are six feet apart, there are some considerations in choosing repertoire.

• Use a hybrid set-up and have ringers with two bells ring in front of floor stands and those with three or more handbells/handchimes can use a padded table.

• One of the aspects of rehearsing safely is that ringers will not share instruments during rehearsal. Once a ringer’s hand touches an instrument, mallet, singing bell stick or other item, no one else should handle it until it is disinfected as described in the guidelines mention earlier in this article.

• This list of repertoire can be rung without sharing instruments if you are using the appropriate amount of ringers.

On the lists of repertoire above, several titles link to our ChimeWorks® website where a description, sample pages and recordings of the scores are offered. Also available is the ability to purchase and download the music instantly. We are offering you a free one-year membership to ChimeWorks. Choose the annual membership option with the promo code: ONEYEARFREE when you register your membership.

ChimeWorks® is a registered trademark by Malmark, Inc. for its online handchime resource community.

The Handbell Industry Council recently released educational materials with regard to ringing safety during the pandemic.  Malmark was pleased to collaborate on this project and we are very grateful to Linnette Rodriguez-Figueroa, PhD, an Epidemiologist at the University of Puerto Rico and an avid handbell ringer herself for sharing her expertise in how we may continue to ring safely during this time.  Further information may be found on HIC’s website with regard to resources and suggestions for using handbells and handchimes.  We are pleased to offer the Qucik Guide to Ringing Safety below.  Feel free to download a copy here.

A Quick Guide to Handbells and Handchimes during the COVID-19 Pandemic
Special thanks to Linnette Rodriguez-Figueroa, PhD for her collaboration with the Handbell Industry Council
in offering guidelines for good health and safety while ringing.

Caring for your Ringers

Before Rehearsal
• Try to limit the number of ringers present at rehearsal. Consider sectionals or rehearsing music for smaller ensembles.
• Encourage ringers to stay at home if they are feeling unwell.
• If possible, ringers should be tested for COVID-19 before resuming rehearsals.
• Monitor each ringer’s temperature before rehearsal.
• Each ringer should wash their hands for 20 seconds. If soap is not available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

During Rehearsal
• Rehearse in a large space or outdoors, if possible.
• Everyone should wear a mask.
• Maintain a six foot distance from each other. Assign one ringer per table.
• Ringers should wear gloves at all times.
• Each ringer should stay on the same position for the entire rehearsal.
• Select repertoire that does not require shared or borrowed handbells or handchimes.
• Sneeze and cough into elbows.
• Ringers should behave as though they all might be infected with the virus.
• Try to limit special techniques which require touching the casting or clapperhead.

After Rehearsal
• Each ringer should wash their hands for 20 seconds. If soap is not available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
• Disinfect all equipment and surfaces.
• Gloves should be removed and put into a sealed plastic bag to carry home to launder after each use.
• Once home, disinfect or discard masks.
• If someone at the rehearsal is later identified as a suspected COVID-19 case, the Director/Conductor should inform all ringers. They should all quarantine themselves for 14 days before rejoining the rehearsals.


Tables and Pads
• Each ringer should be assigned to one table.
• Even if your foam is covered with fabric, it should be covered during rehearsal with additional fabric which can be laundered after each rehearsal (i.e., an old bed sheet) or a plastic table cover which will be disposed of after rehearsal. Fabric should be sealed in a plastic bag to carry home to launder.

Binders, Risers and Music Scores
• Each ringer should be assigned to one binder and riser. The binder and riser should be disinfected with a disposable disinfectant wipe before and after rehearsal. If music must be shared, it should be covered with sheet protectors which should be disinfected before and after rehearsal.
• Ringers should wear gloves at all times while touching music.

Handbells and Handchimes
• Disinfect instruments before and after rehearsal. Handchime tubes, aluminum handbell castings and handbell handles should be wiped with disposable disinfectant wipes. The outside of bronze handbell castings may be wiped with disposable disinfectant wipes and then dried with a clean, soft cloth like an old t-shirt or a microfiber cloth. These cloths should be sealed in a plastic bag to carry home to launder after each use. If bronze castings begin to stain or discolor, they should be polished immediately with handbell polish.
• Caution your ringers not to handle the clapperheads of the instruments if possible as they are difficult to disinfect.

Mallets and Singing Bell Sticks
• Mallet shafts and singing bell sticks should be disinfected before and after rehearsal with disposable disinfectant wipes.
• Caution ringers not to touch the mallet head as the yarn will be difficult to disinfect.

Ringing handbells outdoors in winter is possible.  As the temperature lowers, the tuning of the bronze casting will go sharp but they will revert when brought back into a 70° F environment.  As the outside temperature lowers, the metal of the casting will restrict and become more fragile.  You can ring in below freezing temperatures if you use the points of caution below:

  • Be sure to keep your clapperheads on the soft or medium setting.  Do not use the hard setting in freezing temperatures.
  • Do not perform stopped sounds on the handbells – plucks, marts or mallets.  The casting becomes brittle in colder temperatures and the force of a stopped sound is too great.
  • If the handbells are exposed to moisture, be sure to completely dry the handbells inside and out before returning to their cases.

It is safe to ring handbells outdoors in warmer temperatures. The tuning of the handbell castings will go lower in higher temperatures but will go back in tune when in a 70° F environment. Do not expose the handbells to direct sunlight as the heat will soften the handles and they may lose their shape. If condensation appears on the castings when the handbells are brought into air conditioning, dry them with a soft cloth before returning them to their cases. We suggest wiping the castings with a polishing cloth after each use.

As we struggle to define the new “normal” during COVID-19 times, consider an alternate method of making music. The act of expressing ourselves through communal singing may not be an option however we can use this time to strengthen other skills that will make us better when we can get back to doing what we love. With ringing, we build music reading skills, create a greater sense of rhythm and have a keener understanding of harmony and melodic line. Participants will increase their independent thinking, listening skills, attention span, physical coordination, self-discipline and personal expression. They also gain positive social and emotional skills through collaboration and the development of self-esteem. These are just a few reasons why so many love to ring!

During these COVID-19 times, Guidelines for safety have been suggested to allow you to make music in your schools, churches and communities.  Come explore the quality, craftsmanship and exceptional tonal quality of Malmark handbells and our budget-friendly Choirchime® Instruments. Give us a Ring at 800-HANDBEL (426-3235) or visit us at www.malmark.com to learn more. We’ll help you find a voice!

Effective immediately, Malmark has revised its replacement parts policy for handles and handguards which are covered under our Lifetime Warranty.

Malmark has been offering a Lifetime Warranty on the complete handbell to original purchasers since October, 1984.  If an original owner purchased before that time, castings are covered under the Lifetime Warranty.  Any replacement parts purchased after 10/84 for sets purchased before then are also covered by the Lifetime Warranty.

Customers are invited to send photos of cracked handles and handguards which you desire to be replaced at no charge under the Lifetime Warranty in lieu of sending parts to Malmark for evaluation.  It will no longer be necessary to return cracked items even after replacements are received.

The photo should include the crack on the handle and handguard along with the pitch name.  Please note that in order for cracked handles to be replaced under the Lifetime Warranty, the horizontal crack must cover the width of the handle as demonstrated in the photo below (Figure 1).  We will also replace handles that are cracked vertically along the side of the extrusion (Figure 2).

To place your order for replacement handles and handguards, you may:

Email us at [email protected]

Include the complete name and address of the organization that is the original purchaser of the handbell set.  Include a list of the parts which need to be replaced along with photos of the cracked originals.  If you have handle inscriptions, please note that there are inscriptions in the handles.  Please include the text of the inscription.  There will be a $2.50 charge for each inscription needing replacement.

Call us at 1-800-HANDBEL (1-800-426-3235)

Order your parts with one of our Customer Service Representatives.  Be sure to mention if you need handle inscriptions at $2.50 each.  You will then be directed to where your photos and inscription text should be sent.

Contact your Local Malmark Representative

Be sure to mention if you need handle inscriptions at $2.50 each.  You will then be directed to where your photos and inscription text should be sent.

Ensure that your instruments are performance ready by calling Malmark today!

Be sure that your Handbells and Choirchimes are receiving the same professional care as your other instruments.

Malmark’s extensive refurbishing service is not just the cleaning and adjusting of your instruments.  The most important phase of our complete refurbishing service is the tonal work. Each handbell casting is evaluated for sound quality, re-voiced or, if necessary, replaced under our lifetime warranty as long as there is no sign of mishandling.  Each handbell is then matched within the set for optimum sound quality, richness and resonance.  For Choirchimes, we make sure that each Choirchime is in tune and then, matches in volume with the others in the set.

Here’s an outline of Malmark’s refurbishing service procedures:


  • Completely disassemble and thoroughly inspect each handbell
  • Inform customer of inspection results and recommendations
  • Machine polish each handbell casting inside and out
  • Clean, adjust and lubricate each clapper assembly
  • Replace restraining springs and clapper heads where necessary
  • Qualified cracked handles and handguards will be replaced at no charge if bells were purchased under our Lifetime warranty
  • Reassemble and revoice each handbell
  • Hand polish each casting
  • Inspect and clean cases; additional repairs may be suggested

Choirchime® Instruments

  • Thoroughly inspect each Choirchime
  • Inform customer of results
  • Clean and adjust each clapper assembly
  • Replace any worn clapper heads and replace thumbguard labels
  • Inspect resonance of each tube and make appropriate adjustments of plugs as required
  • Inspect and clean cases; additional repairs may be suggested

If you’d like to see the complete list of steps, check our website, malmark.com/html/55steps.php

Note: Having your handbells refurbished by Malmark guarantees that sets of handbells covered by our Lifetime Warranty are assured continuance of that coverage.


Click here to get more information, or to schedule your handbell refurbishing service call us at: (800) HANDBEL (426-3235).


Sign Up For the Malmark Newsletter Here

Discount only applies to the base cost of refurbishing and does not include the cost of any replacement parts and/or additional services.
Discounts do not apply to shipping.
Choirchime® is a registered trademark of Malmark, Inc. – Bellcraftsmen

ChimeWorks® is a vibrant online resource community supporting musicians who educate and perform using handchimes. It provides everything you will need to make your ringing program successful.

  • Articles
  • Lesson Plans
  • Handchime Ensemble Music
  • Sharing Community
  • Technical Information
  • Maintenance Tips
  • Low-Priced Digital Scores

And you can do all of this and more with a Monthly Membership that costs less than a cup of coffee! Just $1.99 a month or $19.99 for a year!

Want to give it a test run before you decide? Sure! Just sign up for our 2-week FREE trial offer that includes 3 FREE Lesson Plans!

Click Here to Learn More Here:

From the experts at ChimeWorks® we offer this invaluable information on playing stopped sounds on handchimes, safely and effectively. Find more useful information, tips and resources at www.chimeworks.com

Fundamental Concepts

Because of their design, handchimes do not lend themselves to all the special ringing techniques of handbells. Many of the techniques could be damaging to the handchime tines, which determine the tuning of the instrument. The damage is done when the chime tube cracks at the base of the tines: changing the length of the tines. If the vibrating tine’s length is altered in any way, the pitch is distorted permanently.

A tine generally cracks when it is bent from ringing or malleting with too much force or from using the martellato technique. Larger tines can also bend when their vibrating cycle is interrupted in that the larger the chime the lower the pitch and the slower the vibrating cycle. Playing short, repeated notes on bass chimes will weaken the tines and shaking on treble handchimes will weaken the tines. The rule to follow is: the larger the chime, the longer the duration of the note should be. Specifically, bass chimes (B3 and lower) should be used as a harmonic support to the handchimes above – C4 on up.

ChimeWorks® has created the chart below as an easy reference when using special ringing techniques with handchimes:


Finger Damp (TD)

The Finger Damp is an acceptable technique in creating a stopped sound on a handchime. The size of the hand and the handchime will dictate who can employ the technique. The handchime is rung with the finger already in place, therefore the vibrating cycle is not interrupted.

How to play the Finger Damp (TD) technique: Slide the forefinger to the top area of the handchime and place the finger pad in the center of the tine slot and ring the chime. This should result in pitch with little resonance. The size of the handchime will determine if more than one finger is needed to properly execute the technique.

Recognize the Strengths

While we would like handchimes to be a full replacement for handbells, it is not possible because of the design and material of the instruments. We encourage you to embrace the unique qualities of handchimes and consider their strengths in choosing repertoire and determining when to substitute them for handbells:

  • Chimes have a strong fundamental pitch and fewer overtones for a richer sound quality; which is why we love to use them for slow moving harmonies.
  • Chimes are ethereal. Because aluminum is a softer metal, handchimes are more mellow in tonal color. This is also the cause of handchimes being slower to “speak” than handbells and why slower tempos are recommended.
  • Chimes create a pure, intense tone which resonates through more complex tonal sounds making them perfect as a solo melodic line.

Malmark is pleased to introduce its new division, ChimeWorks®, an online resource community for musicians who use handchimes in the general music classroom, rehearsal or activity session. It can be found at www.chimeworks.com. The comprehensive site includes information to users of all makes of handchimes.

At Malmark, we are dedicated to helping you succeed with your instruments and ringing programs. There has been a need for more resources that use handchimes away from tables in classroom, choir rehearsal or activity/therapy situations. We have developed the ChimeWorks community to help you achieve success in making music with handchimes. In addition, many of the lesson plans can be used with KidsPlay® bells, tuned percussion instruments and even Boomwhackers®!

ChimeWorks is inclusive and offers a variety of information and tools for musicians who use handchimes:

  • A complete guide to the use of handchimes
    Have a text with regard to using handchimes at your fingertips and know that the information is current up to the minute.
  • Articles and Blogs regarding the use of handchimes to keep your teaching fresh and relevant
    Outcomes and goals in education are constantly being revised and we’ll keep you informed and guide you as you use handchimes as a teaching tool.
  • Downloadable lesson plans to teach music skills that include compliancy points, objectives and teaching processes to energize your classroom or rehearsal
    Handchimes are a wonderful instrument to teach use in teaching music skills. Our lesson plans will help you inspire tomorrow’s music leaders.
  • A collection of repertoire suitable for handchime ensembles with immediate purchase and download availability
    Not all handbell music is suitable to be played on handchimes but don’t worry, we’ve done all of the work for you and every title on our site works with handchimes.

Because it is web-based, the information and helpful tips on the ChimeWorks site is constantly updated. It is a resource that will never go out of date, keeping you on the cutting-edge of all things handchimes!

The community of ChimeWorks members with whom you will be engaged will help you to be nurtured and flourish as you experience:

  • Online chat
  • Sharing a personal experience in the classroom or rehearsal
  • Sharing a video of a successful lesson plan or performance
  • Sharing tips for teaching • Seeking advice
  • Being mentored by veteran handchime leaders
  • Attending an event where handchimes are the focus
  • Weekly updates of new content and pertinent information

ChimeWorks is a community where you can share and be rewarded! As a member, you can submit a successful lesson plan that you have written for possible inclusion in the site and earn a 40% royalty for each lesson plan sold.

ChimeWorks is a member-based site that is secure so that you will feel safe in receiving and sharing information. Our low introductory membership rates are $1.99 monthly or $19.99 yearly. Log on today for a free two-week trial membership and receive three free lesson plans to use in your classroom or rehearsal.

ChimeWorks® is a registered trademark of Malmark, Inc. – Bellcraftsmen

Embellish, founded in 1995, is a professional community handbell ensemble representing the greater Grand Rapids, Michigan area. Playing on over six and a half octaves of Malmark handbells and a six octave set of Malmark Choirchimes® (including the 6th and 7th octave racked chimes), their goal as performers is to give every audience a high quality, unique, fun and often unexpected musical experience. Embellish Director, Stephanie Wiltse says “we love to show people the broad range of sounds and music that can be created with bells and chimes.”

In addition to concerts and guest appearances throughout West Michigan, Embellish has had multiple opportunities to travel and share with audiences throughout the U.S. and France. Embellish has been a featured artist for many Handbell Musicians of America conferences and festivals, has toured throughout the Midwest and the East Coast, and most recently was a guest of the internationally renowned Raleigh Ringers, who hosted them in concert in Raleigh, NC. A new role began in 2011 when they became the official handbell recording ensemble for GIA Publications. Embellish currently records demos of newly released publications in GIA’s annual catalog that is distributed to over 18,000 people worldwide.

However, they indicate that their broader mission is to be a professional level group that provides a high quality musical experience for diverse audiences through performance as well as teaching the art of handbell ringing. Their mission goes well beyond being a performance-oriented group. Embellish continues on a quest to be ambassadors for the art of handbell ringing: to encourage, involve, and help teach current handbell musicians as well as the ringers of the future. Here are a number of the ways they are working on that mission:

Over the years Embellish has offered biennial educational workshops for the greater Grand Rapids area. Their “Spring Tune Up” and “Winter Warm Up” sessions reach ringers all around their area and offers reading sessions, classes on rhythm and techniques, and other educational experiences for all levels of ringers. If you are in the Michigan area their next workshop will be March 11, 2017 in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

They also established an annual program called “Ringlets” for families of very young children. This free series has been in collaboration with the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum, and more recently the Grand Rapids Public Library, and combines a short program with a time for hands-on experiences of playing bells and experimenting with toy bells and rhythm instruments. Some of these programs have included professional puppeteer, Kevin Kammeraad, and they have added bells to accompany some of his original songs, which were recorded for his most recent CD.

In 2008, Wiltse decided to form a companion ensemble called “Campana.” Campana is a non-auditioned 14-member group that rehearses for two 8-week terms per year and presents a mini-concert at the end of each term. Originally conceived as a feeder group for Embellish, the group has developed its own consistent and faithful membership.

Embellish and Campana have also recently collaborated to supplement the activities of the Valenti Handbell Ensemble of Aquinas College. A few members of Campana commit to ringing with the Valenti ensemble each semester, resulting in a multi-generational group which participates in both Campana mini-concerts and also campus music events such as a yearly Baccalaureate service. Aquinas College has been a long-time host for their rehearsals, concerts, and other activities, and according to Wiltse, “we see this as a very positive way to give back to the College.”

“We see community collaboration as being another important part of our identity in the Grand Rapids area,” continues Wiltse, “We have been part of joint concerts with the Grand Rapids Symphony, the Grand Rapids Symphonic Band, the Grand Rapids Women’s Chorus, the Schubert Men’s Chorus, the Chamber Choir of Grand Rapids, West Michigan New Horizons Band, the Calvin College Women’s Chorus, the Calvin College Alumni Choir, Jubal Brass, Grand Rapids Guitar Quartet, the East Grand Rapids High School Madrigals, and the Jenison High School Chamber Singers. Our annual “Embellish and Friends” concerts have also included other soloists and ensembles in the community.” All of these collaborations provide great opportunities to work with groups and directors who help to expand their repertoire and abilities, not to mention expanding the audience base for them and their partners. In addition, it’s great fun to make new friends in the musical community.

Embellish also choose a variety of performance venues and geographical areas in an effort to expand their audience demographic. “As hard as we work to get the word out, we still hear all too often from local folks who say they didn’t realize Grand Rapids had a community handbell ensemble,” Wiltse says with a chuckle! “We love handbells, and we want to continue reaching out to the handbell world and beyond!”

Visit the Embellish website here:

by Marlene Anderson

It is no secret in the world of handbells that I have a passion for bells well rung. It is also no secret among my friends that I have sacrificed much time and lost many hours of sleep over teens, choir dynamics, fundraising, touring, host families, ad infinitum to the max. Let me just say right off that I have often wished for the “Genie of Trivia” to reside at our home and free me up for making music. For me, the Ministry of Handbells, is all about the people who have chosen to share their valuable time with me learning to appreciate bells well played. Last year, as my retirement from Grace Lutheran came closer, my every footstep was shadowed by the young man who would inherit my program. We discovered together that, upon analysis, it is the people that are being ministered to that are the most important aspect of what I have done for all these years and the music is simply the conduit.

Having given hundreds of workshops over time, I am always distressed at how many churches have a single handbell choir. I can’t help myself, I always have to ask “but what about the children and the youth?” Folks, that is the future of your church. A very wise pastor once told me that there is no such thing as status quo in the life of a church. You either grow or you go away. You must NEVER stop recruiting! If you don’t have involved children and youth, or don’t add more and more each year, then your church and your program will become stagnant and soon be ineffectual at best and defunct at worst.

Please allow me to share what has worked for me in three individual situations:

1. Lake Burien Presbyterian Church, Seattle, WA.,17 years in various positions: Director of Children’s Choirs, Director of Music, and Director of Handbells. I definitely started at the ground level. After they remembered to tell me (2 weeks after hiring me) that I indeed had two Handbell Choirs, I laughed a little and cried a lot because I didn’t know the difference between a doorbell and a handbell. The current ringers had chosen to follow their leader to his new church and I was on my own. God blessed me with a friendship with Larry Fink and his mentorship gave me an understanding of what/how/why with bells. Fast forward 17 years to 3 handbell choirs, tours every year with the teens to fabulous places, a children’s choir that was the automatic “feeder” into the teen choir…and a fledgling adult group just as we moved to Atlanta, GA. The successful points here are:

    • Dangling the very attractive features of FUN, FELLOWSHIP, AND FABULOUS PLACES TO TRAVEL in front of teens who were hungry for all 3 of those components.
    • Did I mention music? Yes, we made good music as well, Honor Choir, Showcase Choir, etc. and then I discovered we not only had fun on tours but we actually turned our trip into Music and Mission trips and covered our expenses in free will offerings which allowed us to make another tour. That was then; it is difficult if not nearly impossible to duplicate that now.

2. Peachtree Presbyterian, Atlanta, GA. for 12 years- there is an existing choir of adults. We fast forward yet again a few years later, and we now have a children’s choir, a teen choir, an adult choir and 2 professional quartets and yet again a year or so later one more additional adult choir. It is still ALL ABOUT MINISTRY, fun, fellowship fabulous traveling and tours, but being televised every Sunday brings out the best in everyone and the music indeed was special.

3. Grace Lutheran Church, Des Moines, WA director by default for 16 years while my daughter took maternity leave and then moved to the Eastside. I inherited two excellent children’s choirs. This eventually morphed into two children’s choirs, a touring teen choir, and finally an adult choir. The common denominator again…Travel and Ministry, and again the music was focal but not the entire focus.

The common denominators in all the above three situations are:

  • Music and Handbells
  • Travel and Fun
  • Retreats, Christmas Parties, Pizza and Polish Parties, Valentine Ringing, Nursing Homes ringing and singing, Christmas Tree Ornament Auction-Brunch.
  • The “task within the grasp” of all who choose to join the Handbell Choirs i.e. choosing appropriate repertoire for your ringers.
  • Recruit – at the “coffee hour”, show a DVD of your favorite Handbell Choir and keep the candy bowl full and have the Registration Forms handy, invite folks to come to try out the bells, or offer a class to the congregation on “Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Handbells, But Were Afraid to Ask” or “Boot Camp for Beginners” or “Fall Fire-Up.”
  • Every rehearsal has a major focus, every month another goal was met, every year another carrot was dangled before each choir. Every trip had a major focus whether it be attending a National Festival as a Showcase Concert Choir, visiting and performing at as many National Parks as we could in 2 weeks, England and Scotland at its finest, New York City at it’s best or an International Symposium in Japan, Korea, USA, and Canada with 9 other countries participating and every fundraiser required a ton of work and a boatload of thank you notes of gratefulness. The major points you gain when you say “Thank you” is amazing.
    • Community Outreach – every choir should have a “giving back” to the community project, be it ringing & singing at the Christmas Tree Lighting, planting 2,000 daffodil bulbs, staging a Flash Mob at a local mall, a Free Car Wash, creating a beautiful Easter Cross, standing outside with a quartet or sextet welcoming people into worship on Easter Sunday while ringing in the joy of our risen Lord, putting the cross up and taking it down every year, Superbowl Sunday sharing your own “Holy Smoke Chili” and ringing joyfully in “Beastmode”. My list of projects goes on and on and on!
  • Always, always, always a sense of God’s presence, His grace and His redeeming love and forgiveness.

Handbell Ministry successfully administered adds up to love, commitment, time and prayer. The rewards are enormous and the blessings too many to be counted. Allowing our choirs and particularly our teens to experience the cultures of various people gives them a true sense of understanding another culture other than their own. I know that music has the power to unite people from around the world because I have had the joy of experiencing it with my choirs over the years. Perhaps someday this understanding will lead to true world peace.

Have you ever had a person interested in joining your ensemble but they only came to 1 or 2 rehearsals and then quit?

Perhaps a new approach to integrating new ringers into an established group is needed. If we want our ensembles to be successful we need to begin with the success of each individual, especially the brand new handbell ringer.

Sink or Swim
Have you ever tried this? A new person walks in the door and rehearsal is ready to start so you hand the new ringer a bell and say “Ring it this way.” and “Stop the sound by pressing the bell into your shoulder.” Oh, and when you see this little mark “strike the bell into the foam like this.” Or, in the middle of the piece holler out: “I forgot to tell you ‘LV’ means let vibrate!” WHAT?? Overwhelmed is how most people will feel! Don’t do this to someone even if they say they have ringing experience.

Being the newbie can make one feel special but it can also be bewildering: the different language, the unknown techniques and apparent “inside” knowledge about how we do things, such as setting up, marking music, etc….is the kind of thing that separates new ringers from established members of the group. The best way to help a new ringer assimilate or “to absorb into the culture” of a ringing ensemble is through one-on-one meetings with the director where skills can be assessed and taught and crucial information shared about how your group operates. Or, it could be another patient, experienced ringer but the advantage of the director spending time is that you can become familiar with the new ringer. Knowing the person’s experience, skill and comfort level will help the director be sensitive to how far to push the new ringer and what their comfort zone is. Plus, it is the perfect time to establish what ringing style you prefer, how you want techniques executed and your preferences on other elements of ringing and more.

Position for Success
If your new ringer is brand new to ringing you will want to choose the ringing assignment very carefully. Very skilled musicians who are transferring experience from other instruments usually make the transition more quickly and with less difficulty. Less-experienced musicians need time to gain comfort with a new instrument. Some things to consider:

Past music experience – if the person played an instrument, putting them in the same staff range as their instrument can be beneficial for tracking their notes. It also is mirroring their preference for lower or higher instrument sounds.

Physical limitations – some folks can’t ring heavy bells for physical reasons and others have sensitive hearing and can’t handle upper bells or multiple bell techniques.

Do reconnaissance – mentally ring through a potential ringing position to identify what skills and challenges it may present. Look for and either avoid, plan around, or plan to teach:

    • Syncopated rhythms, sixteenth notes or other difficult to execute rhythms
    • Transitions from ringing to other techniques
    • Bell changes or bell to Choirchime® changes
    • Exposed sections where they will feel “out there and alone”
    • Independent rhythms, where the ringer has a rhythm different than all others
    • Parts where the ringer plays infrequently
    • Notes that are buried in thick chords making tracking difficult

If possible, choose a part that is:

  • Busy – the busier the better! By ‘busy” I mean rings frequently and consistently. It shouldn’t be rhythmically difficult, nor use more than 2 bells. To learn tracking and rhythm a consistently busy part keeps the focus going and doesn’t allow the new player time to get lost on the page. Avoid more than one special technique in the part and none is even better for the first piece.
  • Easy to track – these are best: #4 (B4C5) or #5 (D5E5) depending on which staff they are comfortable reading. Next best is #3 (G4A4) and #6 (F5G5) because after that the notes tend to be harder to track and ring less. These positions are easy to track, don’t stick out in sound as much as higher trebles and are not overly heavy for a new ringer.
  • Rhythmically simple – avoid sharing rhythms with other ringers as opposed to independently ringing a rhythm. For example, two eighth notes where the new player is ringing one of each pair: it’s easier to ring them both.
  • Repetitious – for quicker learning and success.
  • Centered/Battery – middle positions, especially not #11 (B6C7) or #1 (C4 D4) or #2 (E4 F4). Although many directors put a new person at position #11 this position typically doesn’t ring enough and it really sticks out in sound if the person is lost. Usually these top or bottom of the choir positions are so sparse a new ringer has difficulty not getting lost unless they have very good music reading skills. Plus, less-than-busy-parts are not the ones that will sell how fun ringing is!

Note on bell sharing – if the easy parts include accidentals consider re-assigning those bells to the ringer in your choir who never has enough to do: we all have one! Usually the newbie is relieved to not deal with an extra bell.

Communicate – with the new ringer about your plans so that he knows you will not put him in a place he’ll be uncomfortable or fail and remember to be open to his feedback.

Team Ring or Double a Part:

  • Duplicate bells: if you’re fortunate and have duplicate bells, let the new ringer team ring or double a part to take away some of the pressure: they don’t even need to play all the accidentals if they aren’t ready for bell changes. This is the best way to assimilate a new ringer into a group because you can do it gradually.
  • Doubling with Choirchimes: double with a Choirchime but keep in mind that the pure tone of the chime will cut through the sound of bells so put your experienced ringer on chimes or alternate instruments. Note: chimes shouldn’t be used for special handbell techniques and learning transitions from ringing to techniques is a huge part of what we rehearse in ringing.

More Table Time
Other ringing opportunities that get the new ringer behind the table more will definitely be a plus. An invitation to help out in the children’s bell rehearsal and ringing a part for an absent child is doubly helpful. I have had adults say it was great because they learned the basics of ringing and had a review of reading music right along with the kids.

New ringers are often critical of themselves and feel they let the group down if they can’t ring a part given to them. The most important factor in guaranteeing a new ringer’s success is by giving her the skills needed and a ringing assignment within her capabilities.

Are you ready? I’m going to lay it out for you: the secret to successfully recruiting new people to try handbell ringing can be summed up in two words: personal invitation. Reaching out to friends, acquaintances, your neighbors and the person at the grocery store who comments on your handbell shirt, will be successful if we make it personal for them. Finding a way to connect with that person and relate ringing to something they have experienced musically in the past or something they are missing in their life may light a spark of desire that you can build upon. Here’s a way to remember the elements of a PERSONAL invitation:

Person to person
Flyers, articles in the newsletter and other less personal methods can be effective in grabbing attention but it’s the sharing of a personal experience one-on-one that is convincing. Let’s face it: handbell ringing requires a lot of commitment so it’s up to us to sell what ringers will get out of it, i.e., what makes it worth all that effort and commitment? Think about your own answer to that as well as asking your ringers and you’ll have your selling points to share with prospective ringers.

Your enthusiasm must come through in your conversation: share WHY you started ringing, what’s FUN about it, how you think ringing makes a difference in other’s lives as well as our own, and what you think this person will gain.

Ready to share
Being willing to personally invite and share is essential but preparation is also key. Think through what you will say to someone before the opportunity presents itself. Gather 3 key points that you think sell your handbell program for kids, for youth, for adults. Have a calling card on hand with contact information so this person can follow up later and if you are really good, you’ll walk away with the prospect’s phone, email or a tentative meeting date.

In addition to your 3 selling points above, your conversation should involve listening so that you can offer subjective information relating to that person’s experience and background. Does she have children? You will want to mention that free childcare is available onsite or if this is a college student mention another college student who rings in your group and how it works around his class schedule. Perhaps he tried ringing before but felt he “wasn’t good at it” and with some probing you discover he was thrown into a group without any training or individual help. This is a great time to say, “We will teach you everything you need to know to ring and make sure you feel ready before asking you to perform.” The “no obligation to join” followed by “just give us a try” sometimes helps, too.

Outside your walls
Internal publicity is always warranted but if our mission as a church is to reach out then it is critical that you also give effort to outside publicity that reaches those not connected to your church. Flyers in public places, posts on community calendars and other music groups is always good but try to empower your ringers to wear their shirts, buttons, etc…. out where they go; to take calling cards with them, to post on the their Facebook pages about what they do and enjoy in your group, to extend personal invites to friends; members of the community band they play in, their Bunko group or the neighbor next door who played clarinet in high school. Possibilities are all around if you just think about it and ASK!

“Now” is a word describing the present state but is also one that continues… now is always occurring and NOW is when you need to be radically recruiting because you never know when you’ll need another ringer or where the next ringer may be found!

Make up your mind that recruiting is FUN, will gain you new friends, will give you the chance to share ringing and yourself with others and is a good thing. A positive attitude will give you more chances to talk about your ministry instead of keeping all the fun to yourself. But, you must decide you will do it.

It’s for the love of the church, of God and of His people that will ring, that we talk to others about ringing and that we want to include others in the ministry of ringing. We love to share our message through music and ringing is how we do it. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that?

A State of Readiness
Always be prepared if a new ringer should actually show up at rehearsal. Sounds like a “no-brainer” but you don’t want to stare at the person blankly while thinking “How am I going to show you how to ring? What to do for an hour with this newbie? And, do this without frustrating the other ringers?

The goal is to make the person feel included and wanted as a part of the group. Try saying “It’s great to meet you! Glad you are here, come on in!” and lay out the agenda for them: let’s introduce everyone, then you can observe our rehearsal and before you leave let’s set a time when you and I can work together on what you need to learn/review to ring.” In other words, don’t sideline your rehearsal plans but include the person in any possible way and set a definite time to meet again. After 2-3 individual sessions you may have a ringer confident enough to join the group rehearsal. (I always meet with new ringers individually to assess their readiness for my group – even if they say they have experience.) I would never just ask a visitor to jump in ringing because there are too many potential for disasters!

Prepare to be Welcoming
If you can anticipate a new ringer attending rehearsal be sure your ringers know in advance what the person’s name is, where they are going to ring or if they are observing and any other pertinent information. Make sure the group knows to get the new ringer gloves and to show them around as well as introduce them to other members. This way whomever is there when she arrives will be aware she was coming, what her name is and how they can begin helping her feel comfortable. While most of this is common sense, don’t leave it to chance that your ringers will take the initiative in welcoming someone to your group. And, the person whose presence is anticipated will feel that they are valued from the beginning.

by Curtis Murdock

Using handbells in worship may take many forms, including using a full handbell choir, an ensemble, or a soloist. Perhaps the most frequent use of handbells in worship is a featured handbell presentation for prelude, offertory, or other elements in worship. Another common use of handbells is accompaniment to choral anthems. Additionally, when handbells are used to accompany congregational singing, whether a traditional hymn, gospel song, or contemporary worship song, the result is an added level of energy and engagement in the worship service.

Since handbells are a transposing instrument (sounding an octave higher than notated) the upper bells of the third, fourth, and fifth octave ranges are heard most prominently when ringing with congregational singing. There are times when a church handbell choir may have an extended range of handbells but only have enough ringers to cover a two-or-three octave range. If the upper bells are available, but otherwise not typically being rung, the bass bell ringers may ring the upper bells, which will be heard more clearly and provide a greater “presence,”s rather than ringing the bass bells when accompanying congregational singing.

When ringing a handbell hymn accompaniment for which the handbell part covers only one stanza, there are ways to add variety to avoid each stanza being the same. For instance, when ringing a four-stanza hymn, on the first stanza, use only the basic two or three octaves. On the second stanza, the bells could be tacet. On the third stanza, the organ and/or piano can drop out, or not play as strongly as the handbells ring, doubling the treble bells an octave higher and doubling bass bells down an octave. Adding these extended range of bells gives extra energy to congregational singing. Then on the last stanza, all possible bells would ring, along with the organ and/or piano.

There are many excellent resources for handbells accompanying congregational singing, including Instrumental Hymnal Books, Collections, or Stand-Alone titles. The following is a selected list from each category.

Hymnal Instrumental Books

All are very useful, no matter which hymnal is used in a church. When using any of these Handbell accompaniment hymnals, it is important to get a few copies of the same hymnal for the other accompanists to play from. Although the same hymn may be in different hymnals, there may be a difference in key or harmonies. The congregation can sing from their regular hymnal.

THE HYMNAL FOR WORSHIP & CELEBRATION (1986) – fully orchestrated with three volumes for Handbells Published by Word Music

  • 080689048692 (set 1) – Standard Hymns
  • 080689269493 (set 2) – Gospel Hymns
  • 080689393877 (set 3) – Additional Songs

CELEBRATION HYMNAL (1997) – fully orchestrated with 1 volume for Handbells Published by Word Music

  • 080689372872 – 100 songs

THE BAPTIST HYMNAL (1991) – fully orchestrated with two volumes for Handbells Published by Convention Press (print on demand)

  • 001087025 (volume 1) – 200 hymns
  • 001087050 (volume 2) – 139 hymns

THE WORSHIPING CHURCH: A HYMNAL (1991) – Brass Quartet and Handbell parts Published by Hope

  • 1622 – Handbell Parts with 47 settings for use with 70 hymns

SING TO THE LORD Hymnal – fully orchestrated with 80 hymn for Handbells Published by Lillenas


HYMNAL SUPPLEMENT (LUTHERAN HYMNAL SUPPLEMENT ’98) – by John Behnke Published by Concordia Publishing House

  • 976720 – 96 Hymn Descants

CELEBRATING GRACE HYMNAL Published by Mercer University Press Handbell

  • Parts for many individual hymns are available for download from the web site – www.Celebrating-Grace.com

Hymn Accompaniment Collections

HYMN DAZZLERS by Joel Raney – two sets of three titles each Published by Hope/Agape


  • 8389 – Organ/Piano
  • 8389HB –Handbell


  • 8399 – Organ/Piano
  • 8399HB – Handbell

FESTIVE HYMN ACCOMPANIMENTS by Bob Burroughs Published by Lorenz

  • 20/1344L – eight hymns

CREATIVE HYMN RINGING by Hal Hopson Published by AGEHR/Lorenz

  • AG35020

FLEXIBLE HYMN ACCOMPANIMENTS FOR HANDBELLS by Sondra K. Tucker Published by MorningStar – five hymns

  • MSM30121 – HB/Organ or Piano/C instrument-Full score/Instruments
  • MSM30121A – Handbell

HYMN DESCANTS FOR HANDBELLS by Douglas E. Wagner – four sets of 10 hymns each Published by Beckenhorst

  • HB9 – volume 1 (Advent/Christmas)
  • HB10 – volume 2 (Passiontide/Easter)
  • HB11 – volume 3 (General/Patriotic)
  • HB12 – volume 4 (General/Thanksgiving)

HYMN ENHANCEMENT Series by Lloyd Larson Published by Lorenz

SAB or SATB Octavo many with Brass and Percussion Handbell Parts

  • 30/1886L – Hymns for Christmas
  • 30/2036L – Hymns for Christmas 2
  • 30/1950L – Hymns for Thanksgiving
  • 30/1919L – Hymn for Worship
  • 30/1831L – Hymns for Easter
  • 30/1995L – Hymns of the Cross

HYMNS STANZAS FOR HANDBELLS by Cathy Moklebust Published by Augsburg Fortress

  • 0800657330 – for 2/3 octaves
  • 0800655761 – for 4/5 octaves

HYMNS FOR HANDBELLS by Michael Burkhardt Published by MorningStar Music

  • 30-135

CHRISTMAS CAROL ACCOMPANIMENTS by Margaret Tucker (2 volumes) Published by Choristers Guild

  • CGB756 – Volume 1
  • CGB914 – Volume 2

Individual Hymn Titles & Choral Octavos adapted for Congregational Singing

PRAISE TO THE LORD, THE ALMIGHTY by Kevin McChesney Published by Hope

  • C-5654 – SATB with Piano
  • 1499 – Handbell

JOY TO THE WORLD arranged by Douglas J. Benton Published by Hope

  • C-5827 SATB with Organ
  • C-5827HB – Handbell

O COME, ALL YE FAITHFUL arranged by Douglas J. Benton Published by Hope

  • C-5757 SATB with Organ
  • C-5757HB – Handbell

Interview with Griff Gall

co-author of Ring, Dance, Play – First experiences with Choirchimes and Orff

Ring, Dance, Play is a music education resource born out of a joint collaboration between Malmark, GIA Publications, and Griff Gall and Paul Weller, music educations and Orff Schulwerk specialists.

Malmark: Will you tell us a little bit about the book Ring, Dance, Play and how it came about… how did you and Paul Weller end up writing together?

Griff: Paul and I first taught together as part of a Guild-sponsored event (Handbell Musicians of America) designed to introduce music educators to our instrument. Although we had never met, Executive Director Jennifer Cahourn asked the two of us to teach the elementary portion of the seminar together. Through that collaboration we realized that our philosophy and teaching styles really complemented one another. We continued to collaborate, teaching at guild events and the national Orff Conference. In 2012 we were asked by Malmark if we would be interested in writing a resource for music educators to introduce Choirchimes as an Orff Instrument. The idea of the project had already been floating around in my head for a few years, and this opportunity was the motivation I needed to actually complete the project.

Malmark: The title mentions the Orff approach to music, so is this book only for those teaching in this tradition? And what does that mean for most teachers?

Griff: The book was designed with two target audiences in mind. First, the book was designed for music educators who own Choirchimes and who are looking for ways to incorporate the instruments into their own classroom. Second, we wanted to create a resource for Orff teachers that demonstrated how Choirchimes work beautifully to supplement the traditional Orff instrument collection.

Malmark: When did you begin using Choirchimes in your own classes and what previous experience did you have with the instrument?

Griff: I did not begin ringing handbells or chimes until I was a freshman in college. I was introduced to the instrument by Kathy Shaw, the handbell director at Westminster Choir College. When I began teaching, one of the first instruments I requested was a set of Choirchimes.  I created a traditional chime ensemble, but immediately started to explore ways to use the chimes with my general music classes. Flash forward almost 10 years, after completing my first level of Orff training at Boston University I realized that Choirchimes were in many ways the ideal Orff instrument.

Malmark: What is the advantage of the Choirchime instrument in an elementary classroom?

Griff: Choirchimes offer a tremendous flexibility that many traditional classroom instruments do not. I find that one of the most exciting aspects of Choirchimes is that the musicians can actually move while using the instruments. Our students have to sit all day in their classroom, so when they come into the music room I want them moving around. I want them moving musically, moving in a way that shows they are listening to the music they are hearing or they are creating. Listening and responding expressively is a crucial skill for musicians.

Choirchimes are also the ideal instrument for music teachers who do not have their own classroom.

Malmark: What would you like to tell us about how you envision Ring, Dance, Play being used and what makes your book unique among other Orff or music educator resources?

Griff: To the best of my knowledge, this is the first resource that focuses on Choirchimes as an Orff based instrument. We are seeing chimes being brought to more and more Orff training sessions, but many educators are still unsure about how to integrate the instrument into their classroom. This book was designed to help teachers realize that using chimes as a tool for teaching is not about doing something completely new, it is about doing what you are already doing with a new resource added to your repertoire. Frequently teachers approach me after a workshop on using Choirchimes in the classroom and say, “I have had a set of chimes sitting in my closet for years, and I just never really knew what to do with them!” We hope that this resource provides lessons for music educators to use in their classrooms, but perhaps more importantly, we hope it provides a framework for teachers to create their own arrangements and lessons using chimes.

Malmark: What does a teacher need to know to begin using Choirchimes in their class?

Griff: Teachers just need to be open to trying something a little different and be willing to explore. The book provides a chapter on basic ringing techniques, but in early explorations with chimes in a classroom setting “technique” is not important. I put chimes in my kindergarten students hands early on and they very naturally understand how to make them ring.

Malmark: In your opinion or experience, why don’t more educators embrace Choirchimes as a tool in their classrooms?

Griff: I believe some educators are either not aware of the existence of Choirchimes, or they see chimes as an ensemble based instrument. Although I love my chime ensemble, the true value of the instrument for me lies in how they are used on a daily basis in my classroom. My vision is that someday Choirchimes become accepted as a standard music education classroom instrument.


About the Authors:

Griff Gall is an elementary music and movement specialist in the town of Danvers, Mass. He earned a B.M. in Music Education from Westminster Choir College and completed his Level III Orff Schulwerk training through Boston University while attaining his Masters of Music education. He continues to study dance with the Boston Ballet School and Urbanity Dance.

Paul Weller teachers elemental music and musical literacy in Minnesota to grades 1 – 5. He earned a B.A. from St. Olaf College, an M.A. in Education from St. Mary’s University and Orff Schulwerk Levels from University of St. Thomas

To see this new resource click “See More.”

Teens get Creative with Bells

It’s so great to see that teens everywhere are having fun ringing Malmark Handbells! These girls worked out their own arrangement of this Korean popular tune and they did a super job.

This is What You’ve Waited For!

If you are an educator and use handchimes in your classroom you may have noticed that resources for using chimes in education are virtually nonexistent. Or perhaps you use handchimes as part of your music program at church, with senior citizens, in your music therapy groups, with special needs groups or with Orff-Schulwerk lessons? You’re probably looking for quality, easy to use music and lesson plans and not finding it. Plus, there is no online community specifically dedicated to handchime information and for sharing ideas and resources.


What resources or lesson plans have you needed for handchimes in the past? Perhaps one of these is something you’ve looked for and failed to find?

  • Ideas or lesson plans for teaching children or beginners
  • Music that is instantly successful
  • Repertoire or usage information specifically for handchimes
  • Resources for handchimes or bells in music therapy? For beginning ringers? Special needs?
  • Easy ring and sing music
  • Alternate notation to teach ringing
  • An online group for sharing ideas about handchimes and ringing
  • A place to share music and lesson plans you have used successfully

Many teachers and directors have access to handchime instruments but find there is a lack of information to help them use the instruments. That’s why ChimeWorks® was created by Malmark to be an easily accessible community with information, music and resources for those who educate and perform using handchimes.

By way of introduction, here are some of the opportunities you’ll find at www.chimeworks.com:

  1. Articles on teaching skills in handchime ringing
  2. Comprehensive guide on use of handchimes
  3. Vast guide to repertoire
  4. Low cost downloads of music, lesson plans, notation systems and more
  5. Earn $$ on your approved lesson plans
  6. Events where continuing education credits and enrichment in handchimes are featured
  7. So much more!

Visit ChimeWorks® and register for a free trial membership today! Memberships are available monthly or annually at low rates.

ChimeWorks® is a registered trademark of Malmark, Inc. – Bellcraftsmen

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Excerpts from Order From CHAOS: Taming Your Wild Music Class

by John Jacobson and Cristi Cary Miller, published by Hal Leonard

Whether you are a full -time teacher or a volunteer for one hour a week, leading a music class in which you hope to teach music skills, musicality, ensemble, teamwork and more – you face the big “D”. “D” being “Discipline.” This book is not a long one but it is crammed full of inspiration, ideas and songs to keep your class or group focused, learning and having fun. It even comes with an enhanced CD if you want to use the recommended songs in your class for singing. (Or they could be adapted for ringing.)

Here are just a sampling of the great thoughts found in this book and there are many, more specific games, songs and plans. Even if you don’t ever read the book you may find some “nuggets” of information to use with your young class or ensemble.

Remember your biggest assets:

  1. Your SMILE
  2. Your PASSION
  3. Your ENERGY

RESPECT: Should be mutual: yours for the students; the students for you.

“D” is for Discipline

  1. Most important facet of discipline is to rehearse. (the more the rules of discipline are rehearsed, the more effectively they’ll stick.)
  2. Teach the habit of following directions.
  3. Practice being quiet, start over if intentional noise is made.
  4. Echo-clap, then go to “stand by” position (ready to listen) and teach this behavior but don’t over use it.
  5. Stop teaching when the rules are broken: don’t talk over a chatty class; lower your voice or wait.

Sweat the small stuff

  • If a child does something you both know is wrong, no matter how small, correct it: don’t ignore it.
  • Criteria to use and ask the child: “Is this behavior showing responsibility, respect, cooperation and safety?” (These criteria – or others chosen by you – is taught to the class ahead of time.)

Routine, routine, routine…

  • Good teaching relies on good planning.,
  • Sometimes we teach by the “seat of our pants” but it’s not as fun for us or the students and not as productive as a well-thought-out plan. If you “wing it” every day, your wild bunch will decide that “winging it” is the name of the game and you will have an uphill battle from the start.
  • Plans don’t always work out but without a plan the results will not be as good as it could be.
  • Plan – helps students grow and bloom: it has purpose and direction.
  • Give specific and clear directions” “Use good manners” is better as; “Say “please” when you ask someone for something” and “Say “thank you” when someone helps you.”
  • Teaching by setting routine leads children to good behavior.
  • Know what you are going to do and how you are going to do it!


  1. You are a role model; what you do WILL rub off on the students.
  2. Assume responsibility – for all children in the church or school programs: not just in your class. If there is a standard of behavior and the adults are responsible for teaching it, then all students should be held accountable whether or not they are in our class.
  3. Correct them, not punish and give another chance to make the correct choice.
  4. Eat them to it” demo proper behavior before the situation arises: practice the desired behavior. (For example: a guest, instrumentalist, parent, worship or performance behaviors, etc. …)
  5. Warm up time – a great opportunity to teach listening and direction following and to create good habits.

And, last these words of wisdom:

When in doubt sing. (Ring!) When all else fails, dance. (Ring AND dance!)­

Let’s Hear Some CymBells!

Malmark Cymbells are an innoviation with countless uses for bell choirs, contemporary bands, orchestras/bands, choirs, schools and… the list goes on! Anywhere you would like to have the sound of Malmark handbells with the flexibility of ringing them on a mounted rack is a possibility for Cymbells. Handbell ringing experience? Not needed! Any percussionists, keyboardist or other musician will quickly master ringing Cymbells.

The video we are sharing here is Mark Andersen performing on 2 sets of Cymbells: C6 to C7 and C7 to C8 and Lynn Andersen ringing Malmark handbells. This video is part of the “Cresendo” program produced by International Artists: as stated on their website:

“For many years International Artists produced the “Celebrity Showcase” radio program from New York City and continues to produce music for broadcast on radio and television today.  The family of companies under International Artists includes International Church Publications with over 300 works for church musicians published.  In 1956 our primary medium was Stereo LP albums.  Since that time we have evolved along with the recording industry and our offerings are now only on CD and DVD.  International Artists produces the television program Crescendo! each week which is aired in New York State and the Seattle, Washington areas.  Crescendo! is devoted to the continued support of fine arts.”

Check back for more performances on Malmark instruments from International Artists and to learn more visit:. www.intartists.com

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How Handbells are Made

Though it first aired a few years ago, we find this episode from Discovery Channel is still very popular. Beginning with the founding of Malmark castings, this 5 minute video gives an inside look at how craftsmen work diligently to create Malmark handbells. From the sand mold to the final tuning and polishing you will be amazed at the care, dedication and skill involved in creating Malmark handbells into instruments of visual beauty and tonal perfection.

We know you will want to bookmark or share this video with your rining and non-ringing friends!

Don’t Fear the Cajons!

by Stevie Berryman, Houston Chamber Ringers

I like to think that I am neither selfish nor greedy, but when it comes to handbells I want all the toys, all their friends, and even their weird cousin. I’ve programmed for bells and theremin, bells and spoons, bells and referee whistle, so I’m comfortable combining other instruments with bells.

The easiest (and most versatile) instrument I have found to add to my bell choir has been the Cajon. This simple wood box is a lot like handbells in that it’s easy to play but difficult to master. It’s the “easy to play” aspect that makes it such a win for a bell choir which is not usually staffed with trained percussionists. It’s alright, neither am I. But I can sit on a box and smack with my hand in a steady rhythm and fortunately, the box does the rest.

Reasons You Fear Cajons:

1.    If I sit on it, I’ll break it. Wrong. It’s big, it’s solid, and there’s no way I’m going to tell you what I weigh, but it holds me just fine.

2.    I don’t know what to do. Can you clap your hands? Yeah, it’s like that.

3.    There aren’t any notes written for me to play. Pick your own rhythm. Try playing on one, two, and four (like in this video). Play “ta ta ti-ti ta.” Or, pick a rhythmic line from the song you are playing and just double it on the Cajon (like in this video).

4.    Everyone will know if I make a mistake. No one will know, because you are likely making up your part as you go. It’s not a mistake, it’s improvisation!

5.    I don’t know how to play a Cajon. Sit on the box so that your legs straddle it. Tap, pat, or smack it in different places, and notice what happens. If you reach down low on the front of the box you’ll notice more bass tones. The upper edge gives a brighter treble sound. Fingertips sound different than the heel of your hand, which sounds different than the flat of your palm. None of these sounds are “wrong.” The different tonalities add interest to the part, just as different techniques add interest to the sound of handbells. Honestly…you can’t mess this up.

6.    I only need it for one song, and then I might not use it again. Adding a Cajon to your instrument inventory is a bit like adding chimes, but at a fraction of the cost. Yes, there are a few pieces that require chimes to showcase their full potential. But there is a plethora of pieces that benefit from the addition of chimes, even when they aren’t specifically called for in the score. A Cajon brings a new dimension and color to your music, whether or not there is a specific written percussion part. If your music is contemporary, pop/rock, praise, mallet heavy, or non-western, it would most likely benefit from adding Cajon.

7.    All my ringers are busy, so I don’t have anyone to play it. Your Cajon is like the gateway drug into handbell addiction. You don’t have to know anything about handbells to play it: you just need a decent sense of rhythm. That means you can look beyond your circle of ringers to find a player. And I’m sure you know a child or youth who would love to bang on a box for one of your songs. Honestly, it’s just as much fun to play as it looks!

So, give a Cajon a try. No fear! You are going to sound amazing.

For specific Cajon playing instruction, see our Blog post Cajon 101 Hands-On Practice by James Mobley.

About Stevie Berryman:

Stevie Berryman has served as the Conductor and Artistic Director of the Houston Chamber Ringers since August 2013. She is the Director of Handbells and Children’s Music at Kinsmen Lutheran Church in Houston and assists with the fourth grade chimes choirs at Frank Elementary School. Stevie began ringing handbells over 20 years ago as a founding member of the Soli Deo Gloria Youth Handbell Choir at St. Stephen’s UMC in Broken Arrow, OK. She’s been ringing ever since all over the country, and is a former member of the Houston Bronze Ensemble. She has a particular passion for teaching children how to ring, and her innovative methods have made her a sought after educator at handbell festivals and in private clinics.

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Cajon 101

If you’re curious about how to play or you have a new Malmark Cajon (Congratulations!) some basic practice can help you become familiar with the how-tos of playing. One of the great features of the Cajon is how versatile the instrument can be – professional or novice players can both sound great! We are grateful to James Mobley for the Cajon playing information presented here.

Posture on the instrument

When sitting on the Cajon focus on just two simple things:

1. Sit as far back on the Cajon as you can, with your legs spread comfortably apart. You need to be able to place the palm of your hand on the top front corners of the Cajon.
2. Sit up! You should never need to hunch over the Cajon to play properly. Sitting up straight but relaxed, will keep you from placing strain on your lower back.


The basic strokes are very similar to some of the strokes used on other Afro-Cuban and African hand percussion instruments.

Note: There are many variations to these basic strokes and many different approaches of teaching them. There are also a multitude of advanced techniques. My goal is to simply give you a starting point. Experience, experiment and study to find the full potential of the instrument and the instrumentalist and have fun playing!

We will focus on these three strokes:

1. Bass: with a relaxed flat hand, reach down 4-6 inches down the center of the tapa. Stroke the tapa with your hand. The palm will create most of the sound but it is o.k. to allow the pads of your fingers to strike the tapa at the same time.
2. Ghost Tone (Tips): with all four fingers hit the top part of the tapa with your fingertips.
3. Slap (Snare): This tone is created by keeping the fingers relaxed! With your hand cupped slightly, stroke down so that the palm knuckles of your hand hits the top edge of the Cajon. As the palm strikes the edge, the fingers will whip to the tapa, creating a high pitched “pop” tone.

For a printable PDF, click HERE.

Jim Mobley has been an educator and professional musician for nearly 25 years. He currently teaches instrumental music at Brownstown Middle School, in Brownstown, Michigan. He is also the Associate Director of the Saline Big Band, where he has been the drummer for 20 years. In addition, he is currently the drummer for St. Luke Lutheran Ann Arbor, and the Depot Town Big Band. He also performs with various acts in the Ann Arbor area, and is an active clinician. Mr. Mobley is a member of the Vic Firth education team.

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“What’s a Cajón?”

“What’s a cajón,” you ask? A cajón (Spanish pronunciation: [k aˈxon] (Ka-hon), “box”, “crate” or “drawer”) is nominally a six sided, box-shaped percussion instrument originally from Peru, played by slapping the front or rear faces with the hands, fingers, or sometimes various implements such as brushes, mallets, or sticks.” – Wikipedia.com

The cajón box drum is thought to have originated from Peru. In the 16th century, African slaves would make these instruments from old packing crates and use them to replace the native drums of Africa. Also, in Cuba, cajón drums were made from old drawers and other household box-type items and used to accompany Cuban and Latino styles of music and is a big part of Spanish Flamenco music.

Over the years this versatile drum has been developed into a refined instrument which can create a deep booming bass and high-pitched slap sounds with a range of sounds in between. The addition of snare systems has brought the cajón into more styles of music and new ways of playing the drum. The wide appeal of cajóns is due in part to the simplicity of the instruments but also to the fact the cajón is an easy to play instrument that works well in many musical situations  – and it’s very portable!

Today, the cajón can be found in all manner of music and venues such as accompanying singing groups, contemporary worship bands, Blues music, New Age and Country/Rock groups, handbell choirs and more. The musical advantage of a cajón is that it will add a clear beat to acoustic groups without overwhelming them like other percussion can. Plus, the addition of the snare in some models will add just the right touch to your contemporary sound. You’ll also enjoy the ability of a cajón to make a very suitable substitute for trap set and to fit into smaller spaces than a full drum set up.

For Malmark, a cajón is actually a lot more than the bare essentials of a percussion instrument. For us, a cajón is a subtle, yet powerful and precise percussion instrument; capable of a wide range of color and sound. Having designed and crafted almost every component of our world famous handbells and Choirchime® instruments and their carry cases, we are accustomed to doing things the “Malmark way”; with a commitment to offering the best quality instruments and innovative products for over 40 years.

It is our quest for offering only the best that brought us to combine the skills of our wood shop together with an expert Cajon player from Peru who spent time onsite in our factory helping to design our new line of cajón drums. Being a family owned and operated business since the company’s beginning made it natural that we would offer a family of Cajon drums. A closer look (and listen!) to each cajón will show you how each is unique in its own way, yet sharing the craftsmanship and design for quality sound. And, in the world of music what we care about first and foremost is the quality of sound of our instruments because it’s what you, our customer, care about most.

Learn more and hear our cajón drums on our website by following the “See More” link.

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Malmark Travel Cases

In 2012 Travel Cases were added to Malmark’s line of innovative and quality products. We’re very proud of these cases as we’ve put a lot of thought and planning into making them the best cases for transporting your valuable instruments. To see Travel Cases in our store, click here.

Designing and manufacturing the best carry cases for handbells doesn’t just happen; it’s the result of many hours of research and planning. At Malmark, our years of experience and innovative spirit that began with our founder, Jacob Malta, is evident in the Malmark Travel Case. As an example, Joann Malta, one of Malmark’s owners, recalls that by observing the way customers use and handle their handbells in cases and how they need to transport them was considered. This process included considering potential hazards involved, as well as which features would be most valuable in setting goals for the new Travel Case. These goals include:

  • To provide the best handbell container designed for ease and protection in travel by any means.
  • To make the cases stackable without the possibility of sliding.
  • To make the cases adaptable to other brands of handbells.
  • To consider the weight, balance and ease of use of each case.

We are pleased that Malmark’s Travel Cases meet all the above goals in addition to offering other great features. Our research and observations confirm that Travel Cases are the superior case on the market because of the durability, weight and balance, design and functionality of every case, plus the personal service Malmark is known to provide. Here are more details as to how we achieved our goals:


You may have read and wondered what the significance of “ATA-approved” is for handbell cases. Joann explains that “ATA-approved” cases, such as Malmark Travel Cases, meet the guidelines set by the Air Transportation Association. Meeting these guidelines assures customers that Malmark Travel Cases can “withstand the rigors of shipping by any means and not compromise the integrity of the contents.” Consequently, Guidelines set by the ATA figure heavily into the design and testing of our Travel Cases. And, not only do our products comply with the guidelines but  they are also weight-balanced for the comfort of the handlers. (Most times the “handler” is you!)


Malmark’s cases are designed to stack without sliding, have locking latches that won’t accidentally open and can be secured with your own lock, weight-balanced for easier handling and formatted to integrate upper bells into the bass cases resulting in fewer cases. You’ll love knowing exactly which bells are in which case without opening them because each case comes with a permanent external note plate! This is in addition to note labels inside for each bell pocket. (A pernament note plate is a better alternative than a hanging luggage tag that can get caught between cases or come off, paint pens, or other DIY methods.)

Case Interiors

Interiors of Travel Cases use the same proven-for-over-forty-years fabric, which covers foam inserts that absorb shocks and protect bell castings from damage. Moreover, we’ like to bring clarity into the discussion of materials used to line bell interiors. Another company has indicated their “closed-cell” foam is a safer alternative than “open-cell” foam covered in fabric, inferring that closed-cell bare foam will not trap moisture. However, we feel this is misleading. What is the significance of the open or closed-cell foam? Yes, open-cell foam does contain small pockets of air but simply stated by Joann, “If we were speaking of a closed area of insulation, perhaps we could state the closed-cell foam may provide more moisture resistance. However, these are carrying cases with open pockets the size of each handbell and the cases are opened and closed regularly allowing air exchange.” For this reason, “there is NO assurance moisture cannot be trapped in the closed-cell inserts which only provide the least-cost effective means to hold the bells in place.”

More concerning than a small amount of moisture in a case is the real potential for damage to handbell castings stored directly on foam inserts. Elaborating on this concern, Joann says “the foam is a plastic, and plastic melts and out-gasses in heated environments. The melted foam on the bronze castings often etch into the metal making removal impossible without de-tuning the casting.” This situation is a costly and frustrating experience for the customer who believed their handbells were protected only to be faced with unexpected repairs or replacement of handbell castings. Malmark has witnessed this damage when receiving handbells for refurbishment at our factory. Although it doesn’t happen to every set transported in the hot summer months it is a potential hazard that should be avoided.

More Details

Do Travel Cases fit other brands of handbells? You bet! We can fit ANY BRAND of handbells into Malmark Travel Cases.

Pockets? Yes, Travel Cases offer the same interior pockets as our standard cases so you won’t be missing a place to store mallets, gloves or polish cloths, or anything else you need.

Never worry about a lost or broken luggage tag  for your cases again! Malmark offers engraved brass or laminate plates as an add-on to Travel Cases so you can permanently identify your property. The black laminate plates look fabulous on Travel Cases!

About Joann:

Joann Malta began working for her father Jake Malta’s business in 1976 after graduating from the University of Delaware as a Fine Arts major. She has worked in all of Malmark’s facilities from the original 3000 square foot location in Doylestown, PA to neighboring New Britain’s facility to our present 45,000 square foot plant in Plumsteadville, PA. Having the opportunity to work closely with her father she handled the quality control and customer service, continuously learning and implementing those lessons and becoming an integral part of the Malmark business.

By 1993, the business was booming and on a constant upward projectile. Joann left Malmark to complete the nursing education she originally had in mind when graduating from high school. She became a registered nurse in 1996 and as fate would have it, became the primary caregiver for her mother just diagnosed with cancer. Taking care of her mother returned her as close to Malmark as she could be without physically working in the plant, since conversation with her dad centered on the business when not on health. With her mom’s death in 2004 she considered returning to Malmark, but Jake’s health began to turn. 

Returning to Malmark in 2011 following Jake’s death, Joann is presently the Quality Controller as well as a principal of the company.  She considers herself extremely lucky to have her father’s legacy around her daily and celebrates over 42 years of the Malmark family business.

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Cymbells® – How Do I Love Thee?

Cymbells® instruments are another innovation of Jake Malta, Malmark’s founder. Did Jake have a vision for how Cymbells could be utilized? Maybe. But we know for certain that our customers have been the most creative when it comes to taking Jake’s creation and putting it to use in their music world. This post is brought to life from what we’ve learned from you, our customers, about how you are using your Cymbells®.

FIrst, what are Cymbells®?

What makes Cymbells® unique:

  1. comprised of 13 authentic Malmark castings mounted on a horizontal rack.
  2. contain a full chromatic octave in each set.
  3. come complete with folding stand and mallets that fit into a compact case.
  4. are available currently in 3 octave ranges: C5 to C6; C6 to C7 and C7 to C8.
  5. use the familiar keyboard order making the instrument immediately accessible by any musician.
  6. include an adjustable stand allowing a variety of uses, situations and set ups.
  7. have a unique sound color to create another option for bell ensembles, vocal groups, bands and orchestras.
  8. are incredibly more resonant than crotales, orchestra chimes or glockenspiel.
  9. considerably more affordable than other ancillary bells sets: Silver Melody Bells™ or Bell Matrix™, Whitechapel Bells or vintage Petit & Fritsen handbells, crotales, orchestra chimes or glockenspiel and some have extra costs for the cases.
  10. possess the quality and commitment to excellence for which Malmark has been known for over 40 years.

Now, let’s count the ways we love Cymbells® in different settings:

Orchestra: play a glockenspiel part on the Cymbells®, use in place of Orchestra chimes, to replace handbells called for in a score, as a solo voice: anytime you would like a true bells sound that resonates longer than other percussion instruments but with more color than typical handbells.

Band: in addition to the Orchestra uses above, Cymbells® can be a wonderfully visual highlight of your marching show when amplified and will add a new sound to your percussion section and be another way to help your group “stand out” from others.

Choir: play anthem bell parts when written as an undamped part using a single-voice part for the bells or in simple rhythms, for example: intervals of a fifth that ring out or an otinato above your singers or in place of a flute or recorder solo line.

General Music: play a part or double a part of any other keyboard-type instrument such as xylophone or glockenspiel on the Cymbells. Especially the C5 to C6 octave set of Cymbells® is a useful range for young voices. More than one student can play on the Cymbells® allowing more active participation in music making. Cymbells are also great for demonstrating a melody, an interval or to visually and aurally experience the scale and if played by the student it is also experienced kinesthetically. Again, Choirchime® or handbell parts in octavos will often lend themselves to transferring to Cymbells® successfully.

Church: many of the uses above will apply to your church music ministry for singers of all ages and for your band or orchestra, if you have one. Additionally, your congregational hymns will soar with the addition of a bell descant to the organ/piano and voices. Many ostinato patterns can be found or written to add a more festive nature to your worship music. One such book is Hal Hopson’s book The Creative Use of Handbells in Worship, vol. 2. This wonderful resource is perfect for the Cymbells® because the descants are listed by hymn tune name using bells in a (mostly) single voice line and almost always in an LV technique. One or two people can easily ring any of the written patters with little preparation. After using this book one can begin to see ways to write your own descants using Cymbells® and instead of the 4 to 6 ringers the book is written for, you will only need one person who can play a keyboard! And, without taking time in your bell choir rehearsal to learn a descant with several ringers because one or two musicians can prepare outside of rehearsal time. More benefits of using Cymbells® with hymn-singing is the ease of playing rack-mounted bells which take® us less space than handbells and Cymbells® don’t require the distraction of hunting for the bells needed and then returning them to the bell choir table in the midst of worship. Last, remember that Cymbells® are tuned to have more sound color than Malmark handbells so they will more easily carry through the layers of congregational singing and the organ, piano or instruments you use than traditioal handbells. You’ll find that the upper 2 octave sets of Cymbells® are inherently suited to carry over layers of sounds.

Bell Tree Solos: many ringers who create bell trees by stringing from a few to many handbells into one or more “trees” and hanging them onto bell tree stands for solo ringing may find Cymbells® to be a wonderful substitute. Cymbells® are in keyboard order so the musician can always find the bells they need and Cymbells® are simple to assemble without taking bells from your main set of handbells. Repertoire continues to grow for the bell tree soloist and is easy to find wherever you purchase handbell repertoire.

Handbell Choir: often handbell choir repertoire calls for stringing treble bells into bell trees and playing using mallets. While a bell tree can be a visual addition for the audience, the bell tree assembling may be less of an addition and more of a distraction as well as a challenge for ringers. The simplicity and added color of Cymbells® will enhance your repertoire without the hassle of stringing handbells and can even be positioned for any ringer in your choir as added flexibility in bell assignments. Once you begin thinking about the possibilities of Cymbells®® in terms of bell choir literature you will find regular opportunities to add them and sometimes having a set of Cymbells® even solves some bell assignment headaches!

Liturgical Uses: bells have been used in worship for centuries and many churches still use them as a symbol of the spirit’s presence or for intoning. Cymbells® can be used for the moments in worship where a bell sound is needed or as an accompaniment to a reading, to introduce a melody of for intoning. Cymbells® can be used out in front and visible or subtly hidden away from sight, and Cymbells® may be played by any musician with keyboard experience. Just remember they are intended to have their sound blur and to die off naturally.

Contemporary Worship: some customers have told us they have found Cymbells® to be a good fit for their contemporary worship music. This is an area we’d like to explore a bit more.

What will you (or would you) do with a set of Cymbells®? Send us an email or post on Facebook if you’ve found a way to use Cymbells® not mentioned here. We love to learn from our customers and friends and we will update this article as ideas are received. Contact us: [email protected] or www.facebook.com/malmarkinc

Thank you for visiting our Blog and happy ringing!

Our Maintenance Partnership

We want you to be thrilled to own Malmark instruments, not just when they are brand new but for many years to come! Since October 1,1984 Malmark has offered a Lifetime Warranty to the original purchaser on all handbells. This warranty is a statement about the quality and care we put into the design and crafting of our handbells. However, it is not intended to be a statement that handbells won’t need regular maintenance and care by the customer, nor setting an expectation that parts will never wear out. Our Warranty is your assurance that Malmark will stand behind every instrument that we sell.

Basic Care

The ease of ownership is a big part of why our customers choose Malmark, so we would like to encourage you to become familiar with basic care and maintenance. In between your factory refurbishments you will find that your handbells will ring with fewer problems if you choose to perform basic maintenance tasks.

Do you tune your piano regularly? What about your guitar strings? Don’t they need tuning and replacing occasionally to perform as intended? Brass instruments need valve oil and cleaning, flutes need new key pads; and so it seems that all musical instruments require regular maintenance. Handbells are no different than any other fine instrument.

Most handbell musicians know that using a polishing cloth after each ringing session is a must to prevent dirt and smudges from becoming permanent stains on castings. If you routinely skip this small but important task your castings will tell the story: even using handbell gloves won’t completely keep smudges and spittle from forming stains. Your only defense against stains etching the bronze is to wipe down castings after each rehearsal, by every group who uses them.

Further, your handbell castings need thorough polishing using a high quality and gentle metal polish, such as Blue Magic polishing cream. We don’t recommend other brands because they are not as gentle and our own experience in the factory has proven that Blue Magic cleans well and wipes off easily. How often to polish? At least yearly or when there are smudges, smears or spots that can’t be removed by your polish cloths. And, when insides of castings show spots or smudges we recommend disassembling the handbell and polishing inside the castings and the crown (underneath the handle disc/guard,) too. An added plus to disassembling handbells is that you will be more “in tune” with the overall condition of each handbell. (Don’t forget to vacuum the insides of your cases, too!)

Most Crucial Tasks

Aside from the aesthetic of clean castings, there are a few tasks that will help you avoid problems that may silence a bell unexpectedly. First, let’s consider how the Malmark handbell is constructed: Jake Malta’s unique design features a clapper assembly in which all components are in alignment from the handle through the clapper head. If any one of these components becomes loose it affects the remaining bell parts by putting added stress on them. Especially critical to the integrity of this system is the main assembly screw and handle screws. Failure to routinely check and tighten these screws will be evidenced by cracks around the handle screws, horizontal cracks on handles and in hand guards.

How often do we recommend you check handle screws and main assembly screws?  Obviously, the more often you ring the more often they should be tightened but a general rule is to check every 3 months. This is a great task for that ringer who never has enough to do!

Some things to keep in mind: start at the bottom or lowest bell in your set as the bigger bells tend to loosen more. Also, on handbells E6 and higher take care to not over-tighten the main assembly screw as tightening too much will “choke” the casting and not allow it to vibrate as freely as it should. Do: tighten to avoid looseness but don’t crank the screws as tight as you can. Also, teach your ringers to use an up-and-down motion when polishing instead of holding onto the lip of the casting and wiping side-to-side as this may loosen the main assembly screw. Keeping the main assembly screw and handle screws properly tightened will avoid the majority of problems leading to breakage of handbell components, in addition to the following information concerning clapper adjustment via restraining springs.

Easier Ringing – Fewer Problems

Incorrect adjustment of handbell restraining springs continues to be seen in the majority of our customers’ instruments. Check that your springs are adjusted for the minimum amount of resistance necessary and be sure proper ringing technique is being followed. Bells adjusted for too much restraint require the player to use force to overcome the resistance to ring the bell. This extra force puts stress on bell components, such as the handle and  handle guard. Contact your local representative or Malmark for details on proper adjustment.

Of course, nothing lasts forever, so sometimes handbell parts will wear out and need replacing. The good news is that if you are routinely maintaining your set you will often be in a position to see issues before they cause music-stopping problems.

And, speaking of ringer musicians, a little bit of education can be big help when it comes to awareness of potential handbell problems. If your musicians understand how the handbell should function and respond when they ring it, they can tell you when something isn’t working as it should. Consider starting the year with a polish party where you teach ringers to disassemble (and re-assemble!) their instruments. We promise their appreciation for the design and function of the handbell will increase as well as empower them to be more active in the care of your Malmark handbells. (For a PDF version of our Bell Care manual, follow the link at the end of this article.)

Refurbishment Time

When is it time? When your castings have stains you can’t remove, when you have mechanical issues that you can’t resolve, you hear strong overtones or beats in the sound of some bells or if it’s been 10 years or more… it TIME! The value of your Lifetime Warranty is protected, as well as any new parts on pre-Lifetime Warranty bells, only by servicing by Malmark at our factory in Pennsylvania. Only Malmark offers the same knowledge and care in servicing bells that we bring to the design and manufacture of your instruments.

See More” or contact us for more information or assistance.

Let’s Hear Some CymBells!

Malmark Cymbells are an innoviation with countless uses for bell choirs, contemporary bands, orchestras/bands, choirs, schools and… the list goes on! Anywhere you would like to have the sound of Malmark handbells with the flexibility of ringing them on a mounted rack is a possibility for Cymbells. Handbell ringing experience? Not needed! Any percussionists, keyboardist or other musician will quickly master ringing Cymbells.

The video we are sharing here is Mark Andersen performing on 2 sets of Cymbells: C6 to C7 and C7 to C8 and Lynn Andersen ringing Malmark handbells. This video is part of the “Cresendo” program produced by International Artists: as stated on their website:

“For many years International Artists produced the “Celebrity Showcase” radio program from New York City and continues to produce music for broadcast on radio and television today.  The family of companies under International Artists includes International Church Publications with over 300 works for church musicians published.  In 1956 our primary medium was Stereo LP albums.  Since that time we have evolved along with the recording industry and our offerings are now only on CD and DVD.  International Artists produces the television program Crescendo! each week which is aired in New York State and the Seattle, Washington areas.  Crescendo! is devoted to the continued support of fine arts.”

Check back for more performances on Malmark instruments from International Artists and to learn more visit:. www.intartists.com

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Share the JOY!


We invite you to join Malmark as we share with one another and the world, what ringing means to each of us! We know that there is a lot of sadness and pain in the world right now and we’d like to remind one another that we will ring and we will share joy again. Help us spread a message of hope and JOY by sending us your unique story in a video!

Share your video!

> Identify yourself & where you’re from.
> Share how ringing brings you JOY
> Record for 30 seconds or less.
Send your video to: [email protected]

Tips for a great video:

1. Notice the lighting on yourself.
2. Check the background for distractions.
3. Practice what you will say before recording.
4. Have fun!


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