Little Ringers Frequently Asked Questions:
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Q: I'm confused! Melodies, chords,
cards, no cards! Where do I begin?
A: Where you begin depends on your budget and the age group you are
working with. Generally speaking, the
chord playing method is easier, as long as the chords do not move quickly.
Using both the chord method and
the melody method allows your bell ringers to learn a variety of musical
concepts. Where you begin also depends on
your budget. If you have a limited budget, begin with a RB108 bell set and
perhaps a set of color coded cards and
a song book. You may also want to purchase a set of melody cards if you
want to try melodies with younger players.
Some stores offer a value package such as the
Q. We started with the color coded cards and
it was a blast, but my 7th graders seem to be getting bored. What should I
A. The Sweet Pipes series of bell
arrangements with CD accompaniment are appropriate for more advanced bell
ringers. These books
all use the melody playing technique which is generally more difficult.
Some of these arrangements include second parts and descant
parts. For more information, consult our song lists by visiting the
Q. How do I know which songs need which bells
and which songs can use the chord method or melody method or both?
A. Check out our song lists. We've compiled a list of all of the
songs included in books by Sweet Pipes and Rhythm Band. The song list
charts will show which songs need which bells, which songs can use the
color-coded cards, which ones include a CD recording, which ones
include second parts or descant parts, and more! You may view the song
lists by visiting the curriculum
Q. When using the chord playing method with
the color-coded cards, who plays the melody? We don't have enough bells to
A. The color coded cards and the
chord method open the door to a great deal of creativity. What you need to
remember is that with the chord method, your bell ringers ARE the
accompaniment to the song! Use the talent you have at hand to play the
melody. Some instruments that work particularly well are trumpet, violin,
piano. Almost any instrument can work with a little rehearsal. A
real crowd pleaser is to have the
bell ringers sing the melody while doing their own accompaniment. It is
also effective to have instruments such as piano, guitar and percussion playing
a "moving" accompaniment part, since the bell ringing is a tremolo style which
does not rhythmically very active.
Q. I've tried the chord method and it's really
fun! The problem is that when the songs have more than three chords the
director (me) is pulling our her hair trying to get to the right chord on time!
A. We have developed and
manufactured a clear plastic card holder which will make your job a lot easier!
holds up to 8 of the Color-Coded Cards for directing and playing chords. (SP2389
& SP2390) With the card holder, you place the cards in clear slots and
simply point to the proper chords at the right moment.
Q. There are not a lot of songs listed
that can use the color-coded cards and the chord method. Are there more
that will be published soon?
A. Little Ringers, Sweet Pipes, and other publishers will most likely continue to
release new song books for both melody and chord playing. In the
mean-time, you may use any song that has chords notated. If you're using a
set of RB108 bells and the SP2389 set of 7 cards, you'll need to choose songs in
the key of C using only C, D minor, E minor, F, G, A minor and G7 chords.)
If you're using the RB118 bell sets and the SP2390 card set, you can choose
almost any song that you have chord notation for!!! You may need to
substitute for certain chords such as diminished, augmented, minor seventh,
etc... The 12 major, minor and dominant chords included in the SP2390 set
will almost always have the chords or substitute chords you need. Without
the LRMC8 card holder, we recommend choosing songs with 4 or less chords.
With the LRMC8 card holder, you can easily conduct songs with up to 8 chords.
Q. At what age can you begin using the
color coded handbells? At what age do children seem to get bored with
A. Using the melody cards LRMC96 and the color coded cards SP2389 and a
set of 8 note bells RB108, preschool children can successfully play melodies and
chords. Beginning in first or second grade you can introduce the chromatic
bells, particularly using the chord method. Difficulty levels depend
a lot on the speed of the song and how fast the notes and/or chords change.
Many children will never get bored with the handbells. Little Ringers,
Sweet Pipes & Rhythm Band products are
also used in community centers, senior centers, geriatrics, and in adult handbell groups that cannot afford the thousands of dollars it takes to purchase
Q. The color coded cards are such a great help
with playing the chords! Is there a system for color-coding melodies?
A. Yes, the LRMC96 set of 96 color coded cards allows you to play many of
the songs in the RB7014 and RB7015 books. In addition, the cards can be
used for many other simple songs, as long as they are in the key of C with a
range of Low C to High C.
Q. I've used the melody cards with
kindergartners and first graders and they work very well. Our second grade
class is ready to use our new chromatic bell set. How can I help them
learn the melodies?
A. Currently, there is not a Melody Card set for chromatic bells.
Our philosophy is that by the time children are ready to use the chromatic
bells, they should have the music in front of them. With most of the Sweet
Pipes and Rhythm Band books, you are granted the rights to copy the printed
music for the individual bell ringers of your group. Many directors copy
the music and then use a pen or magic marker to circle their notes. For
example, hand out the yellow "E" bell to a player along with his or her sheet
music which has all of the "E" notes circled.
Q. We purchased many of the 8 note and
13 note books with CD accompaniment and also the color coded cards. How
can we use these books with the cards?
A. Only RB7014, RB7015, SP2391, SP2392, SP2395 & SP2397 books have the chords written on them. You
would need to determine the chord names in order to use the other books with the
color coded cards. You could also use any music with chords notated.
Q. My students are having difficulty
playing the melodies. Is there some system of making it easier for them?
A. You may purchase a set of colored markers and circle the notes for any given
bell ringer. Since you are granted the rights to photocopy the music
for the use of individual bell ringers, you may prepare a separate sheet of
music for each note used in a song. This way when you are finished working
on a song you can file it away and have all of the sheets ready to go.