How to write your own handbell piece in 8 easy steps!

Tools needed:

1 hat
12 pieces of paper (small, but not too small, perhaps 2″ square)
1 pencil, sharpened
1 sheet of staff paper (10 stave is good)
Patience and fortitude


1). Write one each of the following notes on a single piece of paper:
C C# D D# E F F# G G# A A# B

2). Place all pieces of paper in the hat.

3). Draw 8 pieces of paper (only) and arrange left to right in a single row in the order drawn.

4). Using the music staff paper, score the row in the same order in the treble clef. Don’t worry about time signature or rhythm or dynamics now, that’s for later. This will be your ‘notes used’ chart.

5). Number the notes on the staff from left to right using numbers 1 through 8.

6). Assign the notes in sequence to the following rhythm pattern in this way: begin with the first note (no. 1) and proceed through the remaining seven notes in order. For example, the first measure would read B flat (quarter note), A (dotted quarter note), and F sharp (eighth note). The second measure would begin with the fourth numbered note. When you run out, return to the first note and start the series again. This ‘loop’ will continue through the piece until you reach the end of the rhythm pattern. (See instruction no. 7 for a visual example)

7). Add the tempo phrase, dynamics, and the title as follows:

Title of the piece: Melody for 8 Bells
Initial tempo marking: Quarter note = 52
Measures 1 to 8 are first marked MF, and P on the repeat
Measures 8 to 16 are first marked MP, and then F on the repeat
Measures 17 to 24 are marked P

8). Print and play!

This music will be unusual, enjoy the strange-ness!
Assume LV (let vibrate) throughout, let bells be bells!
Rehearse carefully, play slowly, be true to the score!
If you get stuck, ask for help!

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