I have been roadtesting our new set of amped-up Kidsplay handbells these past couple of weeks.
(We have gotten into the habit of calling these the 'toy handbells', but we really need a better name....any suggestions?
As I had hoped, these handbells have been very useful to the Handbell Club. They are very quiet, compared to our sets made from bell metal, and believe me, in a classroom setting with several conflicting sets of bells going, quietness is an enormous virtue (I usually muffle our other sets for these sessions). The eight extra bells is also always very helpful in our now very crowded sessions, and with them, I have been able to give all the pupils a lot more 'rope time'. I am hoping to take advantage of the differently coloured bells to enhance some of our plain hunt practicing. (Purple lead! How great is that?)
In addition to using them with the students in the Handbell Club, I have taken them along to Judo Day (which used to be Park Day), where we have been ringing Plain Hunt on 4 while waiting between sessions. This is with some of last terms' handbell club learners, as well as a few of our more experienced ringers from the previous year. Various children too young to join the Handbell Club have also had goes between judo sessions.
I have also taken them along to the Saturday music school, where there are now six Handbell Club members, and we have killed some waiting time there having goes at Plain Hunt on 6. This has been especially useful on rainy days (a frequent occurrence) where everyone is stuck inside and can't run about.
I have had to do a little emergency maintenance to a clapper and re-position a couple of O-rings. Other than that, the little set of bells has been super. They are quiet and lightweight, and so are easy to just carry along. I find, for little hands, they are easier to ring and get straight into striking at both strokes much more quickly. I was happy to note, however, that this term's crop of Handbell Club Members got to grips with striking and handling very well without this help.
This is solving, in a small way, part of my resource problem with the Handbell Club. Most of our after school activities include some Handbell Club graduates, and a five-minute one-on-one session is quite productive. The only time it is taking up is time I would be hanging about waiting anyway. Fabulous.
So, find a way to carry some handbells with you for those odd moments when you have some time to kill and an audience willing to have a go. Trust me, it makes those after-school days go by that much better.