Frequently Asked Questions


Table of Contents

What Is Handbell-L? What Is BellTalk?
How to Order a Handbell-L Pin? What Is the Best Way to Record Handbells?
Why Should Ringers Wear Gloves? Where Can I Find Handbell Music and Supplies?
Who's Who in AGEHR, Inc.? Where Can I Find Recordings of Handbells?
Who's Who in Handbells? What Is the BEST Source of Information?
Where Can I Find Other Pages of Information? Is There Handbell Clip Art Available?
Other FAQ Pages Where Can I Purchase Used Handbells?
Where Can I Find Music for Bells and Orchestra? Tempo Setters
List of Music Books
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What is Handbell-L?

(Submitted by Jason Tiller, Listowner.

Handbell-L is an e-mail list that is devoted to the discussion of all aspects of English Handbell ringing.  While the vast majority of the content on Handbell-L is about tune ringing (due to its popularity in the U.S.), occasional discussions (called "threads" in e-mail list lingo) do revolve around change ringing and tower ringing.  Nothing to do with handbells is off-limits on Handbell-L: The list is unmoderated and open to all comers.

An e-mail list is a service where members of the list ("subscribers") can send mail to *every* other member of the list by sending to a "special" e-mail address.  The software on the other end of that special e-mail address (called a "list server," "list processor," or "listserv," among others) then automatically forwards the message to every subscriber.  All you need to participate is an e-mail account; users of e-mail only systems like Juno aren't excluded.

Over 7 years ago, a group of like-minded musicians started moving handbells onto the Internet in a very small way: a discussion formed around handbells on a backwater bulletin board on the Prodigy network.   It wasn't long before the instigator of those early forays, Jason Tiller, envisioned a mailing list for handbells that transcended the many limitations of the Prodigy environment.

With that in mind, Jason developed custom mailing list software on his workstation at JPL in Pasadena to be used for a new list he called "Handbell-L" (a common list server convention meaning "Handbell List").   He initially placed hard limits in the code to allow no more than 50 subscribers, far more than he ever imagined he'd need.

Handbell-L has long since outgrown its heritage.  Since moving down to a "real" server in San Diego, the list has grown to over 1,300 subscribers from all over the world, including Canada, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Finland, Hong Kong, England, Japan, and Australia (as of 1/2000).  The vast majority, though, are from the U.S.  The original limit didn't last long, I guess.

The list moved from Jason's workstation down to Rusty Sanders' computer in San Diego when Jason and his new wife, Diane, followed their muse and found themselves moving to the San Francisco Bay Area to ring with Sonos.  Since that time, in 1995, Rusty has put in countless hours supporting the hardware and other services at on which Handbell-L now resides. This computer was originally called, which you might see in some "old-timers'" posts.  The smooth running of the list is due to Rusty's efforts.

To participate in the discussion or just "lurk" and listen to all the interesting conversations, send a message that has a *blank* subject line to

In the body of the message, as the only text put      Subscribe Handbell-L Your Name

You should put your real name in place of "Your Name" - if you don't, the list software will reject your request.  So, for example, a subscribe request for me would look like:     Subscribe Handbell-L Jason Tiller

If everything's successful, you'll soon receive a message confirming your subscription and welcoming you to the list.  Please do read this message; in it's entirety if possible, but if not, at least the beginning (it gets less important as you go along).  Also, keep it for future reference since it has lots of goodies for getting along with our list software and interacting successfully with 1,300 of your other friends!

I (Jason Tiller) am the "listowner" for Handbell-L; if you have questions about Handbell-L, about how it runs, about common "netiquette" on the list, or if you have any troubles, send a note to me directly at  I'm always happy to answer questions or give help; I still feel very proud of the things Handbell-L has made possible, and I look forward to getting people up online and talking about my favorite art form!

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How to order a Handbell-L Pin.

"Regulars" on handbell met and have become friends on Handbell-l, the mail list for handbell ringers and directors.  Since they are dispursed around the United States and other countries, and since many of them attend regional, national and international events for handbells, they wanted a way to identify each other.  Someone came up with the idea of a lapel pin that would serve that purpose.

Through the efforts of several people, notably, Stephanie Wiltse, the final design was formed by consensus (after much discussion), and the pin was struck.

A copy of the Handbell-l pin can be purchased for $4.00, plus tax and shipping, by contacting the National Office of the American Guild of English Handbell Ringers, Inc.,  1055 E. Centerville Station Road, Dayton, OH, 45459-5503, or calling 1-800-878-5459  or you may order by e-mail.

Handbell-l members usually get together at many handbell events, so be sure to check with the event coordinators to see when the meeting will be.  Be sure, also, to wear your handbell-l pin.

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What is the best way to record handbells?

Why should ringers wear gloves ?

This debate has gone on for many years, recedes into the background of the Handbell World, and emerges again periodically with more fervor than discussions of most other topics.  Likely, it will continue to generate interest as long as handbell groups continue to wear or not wear gloves.

Early groups did not wear gloves.  Older handbells are marked, have spots and stains from skin oils, and show numerous "dinks" from clanging the bells together, mostly placing them on the table (most early groups returned the bells to the table between rings, rather than raising to the shoulder and damping the sound as most groups perform today.  This is called "Off the Table Ringing.  Damping, when done, was done on the table pad.).  The appearance of the bells was not deemed important.

A point of conjecture might be that when handbells were introduced to the Boston area by Mrs. Margaret Schurcliff in 19--, her Beacon Hill Ringers walked through Beacon Hill ringing Christmas carols.  (We understand the tradition established by the Beacon Hill Ringers is still being practiced).  It is logical that it was a good idea to wear gloves when outdoors in the evening in Boston in December on Christmas Eve.  Whether this is true is immaterial.

The pros for wearing gloves are several:

Reasons for not wearing gloves are also several:
There are numerous other reasons for wearing or not wearing gloves.   The bottom line is personal choice.

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Where can I find handbell music and supplies ?

A ready source is the Handbell Industry Council, an ancillary organization to AGEHR.

A listing of members of HIC may be requested from AGEHR, Inc., 1-800-878-5459 or or

You may locate Publishers

You may locate Vendors

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Where Can I Find Music for Bells and Orchestra?

A list of music for handbells and orchestra can be found at

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Where can I find recordings of Handbell Groups?

Jason Tiller, inimitable originator and owner of Handbell-L, has compiled a list of CDs.  He welcomes additions if your CD or if you know of a CD that is not listed.  Jason will be pleased to include your suggestions.  Look at his web page:

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Who is Who in AGEHR ?

The American Guild of English Handbell Ringers, Inc. is a nonprofit organization established in 1954 to promote the art of English Handbell Ringing. It consists of a National organization of some 10,000 members (individuals, schools, churches and community/professional groups) comprising twelve geographic Areas in the United States.   The AGEHR strives for musical excellence through: National events are held to bring together ringers and directors from all over the world, while area events permit a more limited geographic participation.  These events are a prime source of new ideas for both ringers and directors, thereby "Uniting people through a music art." (the AGEHR motto).

All members residing in the United States and its possessions are "resident" members.   All other members are considered "international" members and may participate in AGEHR events, sharing the benefits of membership, except eligibility for National Office.  In addition, a subscription-only category is available to individuals and organizations residing outside the U.S. and its possessions.

We recommend four internet sources:

National Board of Directors:

National Executive Committee:

Area (3-5 state regions) Officers:

National Office Staff:

Electronic Representatives:

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Who's Who in Handbells?
This is a list of people about whom we read or whom we see at handbell activities, including some of the nearly 1200 directors and ringers who post on Handbell-L and BellTalk.  It is not an "elitist" list and is constructed to help identify active persons  in the Handbell World.   Click on who'swhoinhandbells.htm.  Nominations and contributions accepted but may be edited.

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What is the BEST source for information about Handbells?

OVERTONES, a bi-monthly magazine, is the official organ of the American Guild of English Handbell Ringers, Inc.  A newsletter that has developed into a professional journal, OVERTONES treats the multiple subjects of handbells/handchimes through theme issues and special publications.

All articles written in OVERTONES since 1955 have been indexed and the listing is available at     The page is presently buillt in a table, so to find subject, author, year, etc., you may use your browser to search  by going to Edit, Find in Page, and keyword.  No articles since 1998 have been added, but should be included before long.

A complete set of OVERTONES is available at the National Office in Dayton, Ohio.  Some Areas are working toward completing sets of OVERTONES for members use, and another nearly complete set will be housed in the National Museum of Handbells.   If you have copies of OVERTONES, especially those prior to 1980, and would like to donate them to AGEHR, Inc. to help in putting together complete sets for reference, you may send them to J. M. Kearns, 2448 Apricot Lane, Augusta, GA, 30904-3371,  . for further information  or to the National Office, AGEHR, Inc., 1055 E. Centerville Station Road, Dayton, OH  45459-5503.

In 1987, Joan Shull (with committee members Russell Blackmer, Joan Grace, Richard Knox, and Ray Lowther) spent countless months pouring over back issues of the magazine in compiling OVERTONES, 1955-1986, Thirty-two years of OVERTONES.  It contains a copy of the first OVERTONES newsletter dated January, 1955.  A table of contents will guide you to general sections; when you are seeking specific information, you may refer to the index in the back of the volume.

This is a valuable resource for history and information about handbells, even considering that some of the techniques practices have been superceded by modern practices.  A limited number of copies are available at AGEHR, Inc.

As to specific information, we recommend that if you need information concerning a handbell, maintenance, broken part, seemingly off-pitch bell, etc., that you contact your regional handbell representative or the manufacturer, directly.

For information about published music, POPed (Permanently Out of Print), copyright matters, enlarging scores, etc, contact the publisher and/or the copyright holder.  This information is usualy found on the first page of music.  For easy reference, you may click here.

There are two active e-mail discussion lists that offer opinions on everything and anything about handbells.  Questions concerning the two above paragraphs (handbells and published music) are often discussed there, but we do recommend the best source for technical questions to the above would be the ones who produce the product.

The two lists are Handbell-L and  BellTalk.    Handbell-L  has grown to over 1000 directors/ringers and others interested in handbells.  Belltalk is a more recent list, whose membership number I do not have.  One of the purposes for which it was started was to give Church musicians a forum to discuss their specific needs.

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What is BellTalk?

Belltalk is a church oriented talklist about handbells.  It is moderated, with a volunteer host, and has approximately 300 members (in May 2000). Belltalk (along with several other music lists) is hosted by the computers of J & J Music company.

You may join Belltalk by going to:  There you can type your name and email address in the subscribe box.  Be sure to unselect any of the lists that you do not wish to receive.

Or you may join by sending an e-mail to  with the following:

Subject line  --  hello
Body  --   subscribe belltalk   <your name>   i.e. John Smith

If everything's successful, you'll soon receive a message confirming your subscription and welcoming you to the list.  Please read this message; in it's entirety and keep a copy for future reference!

If you have questions about BellTalk, about how it runs, about common "netiquette" on the list, or if you have any troubles, send a note directly at Bill Ingram,

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Where can I find other web pages about Handbells?

You can use a search engine like Yahoo or Altavista.

Enter "handbells" in the search window and click the button or press enter.

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Is there Handbell clip art available?

You may find some clip art at

Stephanie Wiltse has clip art available at

The National Office of the American Guild of English Handbell Ringers, Inc. has a disk of clip art available.  Contact or call 1-800-878-5459 for cost and delivery information.  There are also some clip art graphics on the web site ...

Another source is:    Dolores Rhoads,  Gold Coast Music Company,  888-522-GOLD

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Other FAQ  pages.

Paul Schaper -  NorthWest Bells

B Woolley's Handbell FAQ

Paul Kingsbury's Handbell Resources

J&J OnLine Handbells Microsite

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Where Can I Purchase Used Handbells?

We do not know of a central site where you can locate used Handbells and Handchimes.  The most logical source would be one of the Handbell Manufacturers, who, from time to time, accept trade-ins on the sale of new equipment.  They may or may not refurbish trade-ins before reselling them.  Contact information at:  Malmark, Schulmerich, John Taylor, Whitechapel.

Often, used Handbells are advertised in the Classified Advertisements in OVERTONES, the bi-monthly magazine of AGEHR.  Individuals will advertise sets "as is."

From time to time, Handbells will be offered on Handbell-L or Belltalk, two mail lists for handbell ringers and directors.

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List of Music Books

Laurie Brasile wrote:   I have compiled the list of books that have been recommended on Handbell-L, and have posted the list to our server space where it will live for a while.

As other books are recommended to the group, I would be glad to add them to the list. To view the list, go to

You may add to the list.  Contact Laurie at

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Back to FAQ Index

If you have questions you feel should be included in this FAQ, contact .  It will be helpful if you will state the question similar to those above, and if possible, give a short, definitive statement to answer the question.  The editor will   review your question and answer, consider whether to include the question, and amend as deemed necessary.

Contact for information about this page.
Copyright ©  1999  AGEHR, Inc. All rights reserved.
Revised: October 10, 2000