Having just returned from the National Seminar in Rochester, New York, I am continually amazed at how much our organization a) unites people through music, b) touches people’s lives, c) pushes the envelope in creativity, and d) is dedicated to encouraging and developing our future.

Behind the scenes, there are people and organizations working hard to make sure that our art rings brightly. May I offer a few “thankful” reflections:

Congratulations to our executive director, Jenny Cauhorn

In October of this year, Jenny will celebrate her 10th anniversary as executive director of Handbell Musicians of America. She has said many times over the years that this position is her dream job. Prior to being hired, Jenny was very active in the Guild, rang with exceptional choirs, and had a work history in events planning and management. All of these skills have combined to provide stable, visionary leadership for our organization. The following list is but a few of the many projects for which Jenny has provided leadership and oversight:

  • Better and more active online presence, including social media, new website and ongoing revisions, and online membership benefits such as MemberNotes, MemberChats, and the Virtual Bell Academy.
  • Growth and resurgence of National Seminar and addition of other events, including Distinctly Teen, Distinctly Bronze West, College Ring-In, and Back to Bells
  • Increased international presence with the International All-Star Choir at the Liverpool International Symposium and the Distinctly Bronze European Tour
  • Revamp of the Handbell Musician Certification Program
  • Continued growth of fund-raising campaigns such as the Legacy Society, the Heritage Fund, and the new “I’m IN because I rINg” campaign
  • Creation of first ever Development Committee
  • Area leadership meetings for training and connecting the national office to the areas.
  • Sale of physical office and movement to a virtual office environment
  • Restructuring office staff , including creation of regional membership coordinators
  • Expertise in getting over rough spots such as the Nashville Pinnacle venue being flooded and Dallas Pinnacle and Seminar forced to change location. Plus, lots of fire alarms.
  • Many special and unique projects, including the Virtual Handbell Ensemble project with James Meredith, national anthem at the Great American Ball Park during Cincinnati National Seminar
  • New Initiative Campaign, which included the name change to Handbell Musicians of America

That’s an amazing set of accomplishments. We thank Jenny and look forward to many years of her leadership. If you’d like to send a personal note to Jenny, please contact her at jcauhorn@handbellmusicians.org.

Thank You to Our Outgoing Chairs

At the end of September, we will say goodbye to six area chairs, representing areas 7-12. On behalf of all our members, I wish to say thank you to these folks, who have worked diligently to represent their areas and our entire guild. Their tireless efforts have been crucial to the success of untold number of events, countless board meetings, and the promotion of our art form. We are grateful for their time, energies and love for the Guild.

So thank you to Darcy Reich, Area 7; Patrick Gagnon, Area 8; Ruth Seiwell, Area 9; Diane Barnes, Area 10; Jeannine Holt, Area 11; and Michele Sharik, Area 12.

These areas will welcome six new leaders and a host of new board members. Handbell Musicians of America relies heavily on volunteers who work to make the Guild stronger. We are grateful to all those coming aboard, and we look forward to great things as we work together.

National Seminar – Rochester, New York

I would also like to celebrate the work of our National Seminar event planning team, a great group of instructors, and a host of dynamic performers. We have heard from many that this seminar was one of the best. Of course, I’m biased…I think every year is one of the best ever, and then the next year surprises me with something new and innovative. Every concert (and there were soloists, ensembles, and full choirs) was varied, interesting, entertaining, and inspiring. Thanks to Jenny and all who worked to make this a wonderful event.

Just imagine what might be in store next year when we meet in Anaheim, California. Make plans now to join us for National Seminar near the Magic Kingdom, where all of your handbell dreams may come true.

In the midst of all of these celebrations, get ready for more amazing moments like “Back to Bells” events across the country, a new website (coming soon), the Virtual Handbell Academy, and our Guinness World Records venture at the Mall of America in November. It’s a great time to be a part of the Handbell Musicians of America. Thanks for your membership and your contributions to the Guild. If you’d like to share a Handbell Musicians of America celebration, please contact me at erollins@handbellmusicians.org.

Ed Rollins erollins@handbellmusicians.org

Ed Rollins