Music on the Hill is hosting a two-session, hands-on “Bells for Fun” workshop led by artistic director Ellen Dickinson. Open to musicians and ringers of all levels, the workshop is designed to build joy and confidence in handbell ringing. Student musicians are invited to bring their musical parents and make it a family affair.

“Bells for Fun” runs Tuesday, June 12 and Tuesday, June 19, from 7-9 p.m. at the WEPCO Church Complex (48 New Canaan Rd.). An informal performance for friends is planned for Friday, June 22.

The workshop is free, with donations gratefully accepted. Interested participants need to register in advance by email.

About Handbells and Handbell Choirs

Handbells were created to be a practice instrument for tower bell ringers, a way for the ringers to rehearse and perfect ringing sequences before playing the actual tower bells, with obvious advantages for the neighbors.

Over time, handbell ringing became an art in and of itself, with handbell choirs playing music arranged for them using anywhere from two to eight octaves of handbells.

New techniques arose to add variety to the type of sound the ringer could create, from short staccato notes made with mallets or with thumb- or table-damps to the infinitely sustainable ring of a “singing bell.” The state of the art has developed to the point that composers now write original compositions for handbells.

Handbell choirs are most often encountered as part of church music programs and worship services, particularly in Protestant denominations. Music on the Hill’s Jubilate Ringers is the relatively rare example of a community-based handbell choir.