Handbells are great at helping younger students develop an understanding of duration. Handbells seem to keep their interest going long enough to be able to teach the concept of just how long to hold the notes on for. The only thing to watch is that they don’t bang the bells together, or pull at the ‘donger’ inside.
You can have your student choose a bell, any bell, and if they are familiar with what notes look like (ie Semibreves, Minims, Crotchets etc) you can hold up flash cards and have them ring their bell of choice and count out aloud for the length of the note. This way they learn to ring the bell properly too – not just give it one ‘shake’ if they’re supposed to hold it on/make a sound for 4 beats/counts.
- Student can choose two bells and alternate with the flashcards.
- Student can line flashcards up to make a rhythm and play 1 or 2 bells along to their rhythm.
- Using a C and a G, see if you can do ‘low’ (C) and ‘high’ (G) with long and short duration (ie C for 4 counts, then G 3 times for 1 count each). Older students could be introduced to the tonic and dominant through this.
- Use note AND rests to also ensure resting for the right length as well. Bells like to sleep in between all their hard work ringing!