Thursday, December 14, 2017

Using Handbells at Christmas

Make sure to check out all of my Christmas singing time lesson plans HERE (there are lots that don't include the bells!).

If you are familiar with my singing time style, you know that I LOVE the handbells for Christmas time (okay, all year round if I'm being completely honest!).  They have a way of bringing a little bit of Christmas magic into primary with them.  The kids ABSOLUTELY love the handbells - the youngsters and those claiming "too-cool."  Levels of technic may vary with the ages but I haven't found one child who isn't engaged by the handbells!

If you are unfamiliar with using handbells in primary, I'd HIGHLY suggest my post HERE.  It gives details on where to purchase bells, how I handle them in singing time, and how to perform with them in sacrament meeting {I've received several comments from primary choristers asking about their ward not allowing the bells in sacrament meeting and wondering if they are still worth the investment.  My answer to that is YES!!  I almost wonder if you dragged your bishop into a singing time while you use them, they may change their mind}.  

So I have several Christmas songs from the handbook that I've created note charts for.  I typically don't create note charts for the melody of songs, however.  In my opinion, it's a little redundant since the piano usually already is playing the melody. Charts with just the melody tend to get really lengthy.  So I've created a few methods to use the handbells while not using the melody.  But if you really want the melody for a particular song, I've created a post HERE for you to be able to create your own bell chart any way and for any song you like!

So my first method using the handbells is on the obbligato or descant of a song.  Christmas Bells is the perfect song for this method!  You can find details on that song HERE.  For our primary, this song is an annual repeat and we sing/play it in sacrament meeting every year.

My second method is using the guitar chords that are posted.  This is really fun as you have about 3 bells playing at the same time!  I used this method for the song Samuel Tells of the Baby Jesus on the chorus.  You can find details on that song HERE.

My last method uses notes from the bottom hand of the piano accompaniment.  The Shepherd's Carol was fun since it can be sung in a round and the bottom hand accompaniment can be sung with pretty much any portion of the song.  Details on that song can be found HERE.

Here's a quick reference list of all the Christmas songs that I've created handbell charts for:

Jingle Bells - bell chart HERE
Samuel Tells of the Baby Jesus - bell chart HERE
Carol of the Bells - bell chart HERE
The Shepherd's Carol - bell chart HERE
Mary's Lullaby - bell chart HERE
Christmas Bells - bell chart HERE

How do you like to use the bells in primary?  I've also seen several charts and websites floating around with helpful information.  If you know of or have information on any of these resources, please share!

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