Aldi were selling one octave sets of coloured handbells for $15 about a year ago, so I bought a set almost expecting them to be out of tune and very dodgy (ever seen the violins they have sold? EEK!!) but to my surprise, they weren’t bad at all for that price! I will quite happily purchase another set if they ever sell them again.
What to do with them?
I now have three of the bells hovering around in my studio so that a student needs to do the ‘three in a row correct’ game, they can play it correctly once, and ring a bell. Play it correctly twice and they can ring two bells. Play it correctly three times and they can ring all three bells (separately of course, so they aren’t banging the bells together).
Not only is this fun for the student, it allows them to hear a tonic triad (if you have the three bells set up that way).
- Choose bells to form a major tonic triad
- Choose bells to form a minor tonic triad
- Choose bells to form an inversion and then discuss how we got to that inversion/what an inversion is with your student
- Place the bells out of order, and after the third successful attempt of playing through their difficult passage, whatever it is they’re working on, the student has to place the bells in order of sound, from either lowest to highest or vice versa.
- Once correct, the student can pick out the pitches of the bells on their instruments and play the tonic triad on their own instrument. Great way to pique interest in learning arpeggios.
- Play a pattern with the bells you have chosen. The student has to repeat the pattern back to you.
- Student can make up their own rhythmic pattern using the bells. Can they then play it on their instrument?
- For litle people, use matching coloured stickers to place on a relevant sized stave so they can ‘notate’ a melody.
Edited to add that my own children learn piano, and to have them play their pieces three times through without me having to nag them, I simply place the ‘C’, ‘E’ and ‘G’ bells on top of my piano (I have a cover on the top of my piano, so the metal bells won’t scratch it). My kids LOVE playing their piece the first time then ringing the ‘C’ bell. Play through a second time correctly and ring the ‘E’ bell etc. Makes things SO much easier.