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Groth Music Handbell Frequently Asked Questions:

How Many Bells Should I Purchase?
How many bells you purchase is naturally determined by the number of bell ringers in your group and by your budget. Keep in mind that you'll need more bells than the number of bell ringers. The reason for this is that there are few songs that will use all of the bells. As a general rule, you'll want to have at least twice the number of bells than the number of bell ringers. For example, if you have 12 bell ringers, and you're playing a song that only uses 5 of the 8 notes in an RB108 set, in order for each bell ringer to be involved, you'd need to have 3 sets of RB108. Many directors like to have each bell ringer hold and play two bells.  You'll want to increase the number of bells you have on hand to accomplish this.

What is the difference between Handbells, Deskbells and "Combined" Bells?
are generally used for playing melodies (not chords) and are played by pushing the button on the top of the bell.  If the bells are placed on a surface in sequence, a single person can play multiple bells and play a melody by themselves.
Handbells are played with a traditional handbell technique where the bell is held against the upper body to keep it silent and then gently pushed forward for a single ring or shaken for a tremolo sound (quite often used with playing chords.)
Combined bells are just what the term suggests.   They can be played as a traditional handbell, but also have a button on the top and a special design on the bell area to allow them to be placed on a surface and played similar to a deskbell.

I'm overwhelmed and confused.  I direct a Church group.  Where should I begin?
One of our most popular packages for church groups is the
Easy Hymns Value Pack along with as many sets of 8 note bells, deskbells or combined bells as you need or can afford.This book and CD includes easy songs which are appropriate for Christian Churches and all of the songs work with 8 note bell sets for both chord and melody techniques. It also includes several Christmas appropriate songs which is a common request.

 What is the Melody Method?
Playing the melodies using the handbells or deskbells is done by handing out one or more bells to each ringer and instructing them when to ring their bells as part of the melody. This is done one of several ways: For the very youngest of bell ringers (preschool through early elementary) you may want to use the Melody Cards LRMC96. By preparing a stack of cards in advance, you'll be able to cue the melody notes one at a time. For more experienced bell ringers, you can photocopy the bell music (you are granted the rights to copy the music for the use of individual bell ringers) and then mark the notes with a highlighter. Prepare a separate sheet of music for each bell that is part of the song you're performing. You may want to use colored markers.

What is the Chord Method?

In order to introduce your bell ringers to a variety of musical concepts, you'll want to use the chord playing method as part of your handbell experience. As a general rule, the chord method is easier, since the chords do not change as quickly as the melody notes. For the chord method, the level of difficulty is determined by the number of chords used and the speed at which they change. The chord method is achieved by gently shaking the bell back and forth. For the 8 note bell sets, you'll need the SP2389 set of 7 cards for directing the chords. For chromatic bell sets, you'll need the SP2390 set of 36 cards. In order to make your job as a director much easier, you will want to purchase the LRCH8 card holder. The chord method can be used with any music which has the chord symbols printed, including RB7014, RB7015, SP2391, SP2392 and SP2394. You may also use your own music, as long as the chords are major, minor or dominant 7th. Make sure to determine which chords are used in the song and hand out the bells which are part of those chords.

Which books are appropriate for what age groups?

The chart below will help you to choose materials that are appropriate for your age group and experience level. You should use a mixture of melody method and chord method playing in order to introduce both musical concepts. Keep in mind that if your school or church has been using the bells for a while, you will want to choose more advanced materials in order to challenge the students.

Order # Description CD Melody Method Chord Method
    Included? # Of Bells Difficulty # Of Bells Difficulty Cards Needed
LRSB19 The Color-Ring Book No 8/13 Pre-5th  8/13 Pre-5th n/a
RB7014 8 Note Bell Songs No 8 K - 3rd 8 (some 13) Pre - 3rd SP2389/SP2390
RB7015 More 8 Note Bell Songs No 8 K - 3rd 8 (some 13) Pre - 3rd SP2389/SP2390
SP2373 Hymns for 8 Note Handbells Yes 8 2nd - 5th n/a n/a n/a
SP2379 Celebrations for 8 Note Handbells Yes 8 2nd - 5th n/a n/a n/a
SP2380 Secular Songs for 13 Note Handbells Yes 13 3rd - 8th n/a n/a n/a
SP2381 Church Songs for 13 Note Handbells Yes 13 3rd - 8th n/a n/a n/a
SP2382 Let Freedom Ring for 13 Note Handbells Yes 13 3rd - 8th n/a n/a n/a
SP2386 Great Hymns Yes 20 3rd - 8th n/a n/a n/a
SP2388 Christmas Bells Yes 8/13/20 3rd - 8th n/a n/a n/a
SP2391 Christmas Carols for Bells No 20 3rd - 8th 13 1st - 8th SP2390
SP2392 Special Occasions for Bells Yes 20 3rd - 8th 13 1st - 8th SP2390
SP2395 Primary Bells Yes 8/13/20 Pre - 2nd 13 Pre - 2nd SP2389/SP2390
SP2397 Easy Hymns for 8 Note Handbells Yes 8 Pre - 3rd 8 Pre - 3rd SP2389
SP2401  Holiday Bells Yes 8/13/20 3rd - 8th 8/13 1st - 8th SP2389/SP2390
SP2400 Time for Bells Curriculum Yes 8/13/20 Pre - 8th 8/13 1st - 8th SP2389/SP2390
SP2404 More Hymns for Handbells Yes 20 3rd - 8th 13 (1 with 8) 1st - 8th SP2390
SP2405 Around the World With Handbells Yes 20 3rd - 8th 13 (2 with 8) 1st - 8th SP2390
RB7017 Tunes for Early Years Yes 8/13/20 Pre - 3rd 8/13 Pre - 3rd SP2389/SP2390
SP2410 Joyful Hymns for 2 Octave Handbells Yes 25 3rd - 8th 13 1st - 8th SP2390

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