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Ring Refresh by Kelley Clegg Neal
Kelley Clegg Neal is the director of handbells at Trussville First United Methodist Church in Trussville, Alabama. She kindly agreed to share how she and her ringers get back in the swing of things with their Ring Refresh program every year.
Ring Refresh began as a way to start the ringing year with everyone on the same page. Due to health
issues, the much loved Director of Handbells had to resign from directing. As the new Director of Handbells, I wanted to
have a time with the Handbell Choir before regular rehearsals started where we could review handbell techniques, try out
some of the music for the upcoming ringing season, build community and just have a good time together. After some dis-
cussions with members of the Handbell Choir and lots of brainstorming, Ring Refresh—2010 came into being.
The first thing was to set a date and time....the Saturday before our first scheduled fall rehearsal from 8:30 a.m. –
3:00 p.m. That was the easy part. The second thing was to get a very dynamic, fun loving person to work with us, some-
one who knew handbells from A – Z AND who loved helping people ring handbells. Tom Killian, the person who intro-
duced me to the world of handbells, was the perfect choice to serve as our Clinician.
Getting the word out to returning ringers as well as recruiting new ringers was very critical. A colorful, printed bro-
chure with all the information about Ring Refresh—2010 went to everyone who expressed an interest. The brochure in-
cluded information about the clinician, the schedule, cost ($20), and things to do to prepare for the day. Announcements
about Ring Refresh—2010 ran in the church newsletter and bulletins.
Attention to details not only made Ring Refresh--2010 a super day, but also quietly said to everyone present
that their involvement in handbells is appreciated. The snack room decorations were festive. Everyone brought snacks
and had fun deciding where to put them on the table. The lunch table was complete with cute floral arrangements and
placemats. Lunch was catered from a local restaurant. Prior to Ring Refresh--2010 I secured Door Prizes from several
local businesses. Throughout the day, we drew for a Door Prize. No one had any idea that Door Prizes were to be part of
The day before Ring Refresh—2010 was Set-Up Day. The snack room, lunch area, handbell room, registration area had
to be made ready. On the day of Ring Refresh—2010, there were lots of last minute details. I recruited a friend to serve
as my assistant both days. Her job was to assist with getting everything ready on the day before and to help with registra-
tion, to have snacks ready for breaks, to unload/set up lunch and to take care of anything that came up throughout the day
of Ring Refresh--2010. This left me free to be totally involved in all the Sessions with my ringers.
For Ring Refresh—2010 to be more than just a long rehearsal, the schedule had to be special. At Registration
everyone got a name tag & gift bag which immediately caused lots of excitement. A Community Building time followed.
For about 20 minutes I had everyone playing get acquainted games, changing partners, talking about handbells and
why they thought ringing is important. Our Senior Minister joined us for the Community Building time and ended the
time with prayer. Session I was the “get everybody on the same page” time and lasted an hour. Tom demonstrated
basic handbell techniques, had everyone working to improve their handbell skills, introduced many new ideas about
ringing and helped everyone be more confident with their bells. It was time for a break! Everyone headed to the Snack
Session II was a sight reading time and focused on music for the fall. Tom and I shared the directing responsi-
bilities. This gave Tom an opportunity to observe and to work with individual ringers as needed. Session II lasted an
hour. By then everyone was ready for lunch and some rest.
After lunch, Tom introduced us to Duets, Trios and Quartets in Session III for about 45 minutes. With much fear
and trembling, everyone picked up the bells gave these new concepts a try. Much to their surprise, by the time the ses-
sion was over, they actually were enjoying themselves! A quick break and it was time for Session IV which was a ques-
tion and answer time with Tom. To end the day together, we had a closing worship time. Tom played a handbell solo,
Be Thou My Vision. We shared about what had made the day special and had Holy Communion. What a tremendous
time of celebrating deepening friendships, new appreciation for handbells and looking forward to the new ringing year!!!
Ring Refresh from the ringers’ point of view:
Debbie Barton-- Ring Refresh is a unique opportunity for the members (current and prospective) of our handbell
department to gather after the summer break, get back in the "ringing" mindset, and be exposed to the ideas
and talents of other choirs through their directors. It gets better each year, and there is always a new technique
to be learned. Kelley's format allows for just the right blend of work and fun, and we come away with a deeper
appreciation for the role that handbells have in worship. After all, that's really what it's all about.
Melissa Smith--Ring Refresh helped me....learn new techniques and skills that I would have never learned on my
own. The best thing about Ring Refresh is... getting together with old friends and making new friends. That
starts off the ringing season right!
Nancy Russell—I enjoy coming back together with everyone at Ring Refresh and learning what they did this summer,
looking forward to new music and getting back in the groove. I always start out with a fresh, clean attitude to
learn more and to do my very best to improve what I already know. Being an old bird instead of a spring chick-
en, it takes me a little longer to get back in the groove, but I never stop trying.
Deanna Jones--The best thing about Ring Refresh, is that I learn something new every year! And people without
any handbell experience, can learn to play the handbells.
Debbie Woods—Ring Refresh is fun. It's nice to have a long session to work on a lot of pieces and techniques.
It helped me ring better. The best thing about Ring Refresh is having various clinicians. We hear something new
or even something that's not new but we hear it in a different way that really makes it click.