I’m a HUGE advocate of using handbells in primary during singing time! They provide tons of movement, repetition and FUN when singing and reviewing primary songs! There are several types, qualities and companies that sell handbells and here’s what I use and HIGHLY recommend getting for your primary!
**This post contains affiliate links. That means I receive a small commission from sales at no cost to you. But know that I wouldn’t recommend these products if I didn’t LOVE them!
There’s a new handbell company on the market – Merry Bells. They are my favorite handbell set for primary. You can’t beat the price and the fact that you are supporting a small business owner who is also a member of the church!
Merry Bells is unique in that you can purchase DVD’s that contain digital note charts so kids can play along with all types of songs – Christmas, children’s, patriotic, primary and NOW Hymns!! Digital downloads are becoming available as well! The handbell set includes the Christmas DVD already! All the songs on the DVD’s can be played with the 8-note basic set!
I’m thinking this would make for great ward Christmas party entertainment! Display the music up on a projector and let anyone come have a turn to play! The rest of the audience can sing along.
If you are new to handbells, I HIGHLY recommend purchasing Merry Bells 8-Note Handbell set HERE (which contains the basic 8-note set only) before you purchase any additional handbells! The DVD’s are easy to follow and implement in singing time.
Use coupon code cpi10%off at checkout!!
There’s a fun video of shoppers stopping to play Merry Bells at one of their Christmas booths. Find it on Merry Bells website HERE. So easy that anyone can stop and play!
There is one notable difference between Merry Bells vs. the Kidsplay Basic note set. Merry Bells contain a white handbell you can see pictured above. The Kidsplay brand has 2 red bells which are the C octaves. Merry Bells has simply differentiated between the 2 C octaves with a red and white note where Kidsplay notes do not.
So once you have chosen to purchase your basic 8-note set either from Merry Bells (and maybe a few DVD’s) or the Kidsplay brand (more details below) and you want to expand your set, I recommend going with the Kidsplay for the rest. (The product name may be changing to Rhythm Band but the product appears to be unchanged).
Basic 8-Note Set
This basic 8-note set includes the red Kidsplay box pictured above SIMILAR to the Merry Bells handbells (Amazon affiliate link):
5-Note Chromatic Handbell Add On Set
If you purchase the Merry Bells basic set, I HIGHLY recommend purchasing the 5-Note Chromatic Handbell Add On Set (the yellow box only). Almost all of my note charts will require you to have these notes in addition to the 8-note basic set:
UPDATE: The Kidsplay 5-note add on set doesn’t appear to be sold on Amazon anymore. But I did find them online:
I’m begging Merry Bells to start selling this set! Email them HERE as well to plead our cause ;).
7-Note Expanded Range Handbells
This 7-note expanded range handbell set will extend your set further (the orange box). It’s a great way to get more kids playing the bells, but not necessary (you can use the extended note set as an option with all my charts). I recommend getting these eventually (Amazon affiliate link):
When to Use Handbells
I pull out the handbells several times a year. I also use them in sacrament meeting when we sing for the holidays and occasionally for our Primary Program. Make sure to permission from your bishop if using in sacrament meeting.
The kids absolutely LOVE them and we can sing a song a million times over and never get tired of it when we use the bells.
There is a wide variety of ways to use handbells other than simply playing the melody. My post HERE is a collective list of all my handbell note charts. They are all categorized by bell type, playing method and holiday/season.
Teaching with Handbells
- You don’t touch the color bell portion or the middle bell ringer part (I know, I’m real technical with my terms, right?). You only touch the handle.
- You only ring your bell when I point to your color on the note chart. If you ring it any other time, you may forfeit your chance to play the bells.
- When you are not ringing your bell, you hold it against your chest.
- Only good singers will get to be bell ringers so SING.
Bell ringers are not expected to sing but the non-bell ringers are. Non-bell ringers not singing, will remain as such! 😉
So once you have your notes posted on the chalkboard, the words posted, your assistant, and your bells distributed, you are ready to go. Pull out a pointer and play however you like. Sometimes just the bells will play, sometimes just the kids will sing. Sometimes we’ll play and sing together with or without the piano. Mix it up. The variety is endless.
Handbells in Sacrament Meeting
If there’s not enough budget money, see if the other 2 primaries that share your building would go in and purchase a set for all 3 primaries in the building to share. Then just keep the set in the library where they must be checked out and returned after each use.
Leave any comments for additional ideas on using the bells or what you’ve found to work for you! Scroll through all my handbell posts HERE.