Love Handbells Make Beautiful Music

Love Elementary School fourth grader, Jonathan Amidon, plays the handbell during music class with Jennie Cross.

The lovely sound of bells rings throughout Love Elementary School third and fourth grade classrooms thanks to wonderful instruction of music teacher Jennie Cross. Beginning in December, students are using handbells to learn skills such as: how to follow and read notes on a page, how to be responsible with an instrument and play it correctly, and how to work together to create music.

“I decided to use handbells because they are very approachable for the elementary level,” said Miss Cross. “Especially now with only a 20 minute class period, I wanted to make sure the students feel successful and accomplished at the end of class. The handbells use a simple technique, and once the students get that they really feel like they are making music together! We have related the handbells to boomwhackers, which are simple tube-shaped instruments, and discussed the similarities and differences. I have also shared videos of professional handbell choirs so students can see them used in a different setting. It has been wonderful to see the students feel so accomplished by the end of a short class period.”

The handbells are wonderful tools for students to use because they visually and aurally help the students understand the note names and pitches.

When each student is given one note that they are responsible for playing, it creates a team and group goal to play the song together. It shows how important every part is, and if someone doesn’t play his or her note, it would be really missed in the song. In this time where group work has become difficult with the new restrictions and guidelines, this is one way that students can still get that experience of working together to achieve an end goal. The handbells are sanitized between each class and each student’s use.

“I like doing the handbells as it is easier than some other instruments,” said Love Elementary School fourth grader, Jonathan Amidon. “My big sister is in the JHS band and choir and I want to play drums when I go to middle and high school.”

Miss Cross, who is in her fourth year of teaching, has found her philosophy as an elementary music educator to be twofold: to develop and instill a lifelong love and enjoyment of music because it can be used as a lifelong motivational and relaxation tool, and as an opportunity to bond with others either by making music or listening to music together. Her other goal is to prepare and motivate students to continue in the music programs JPS offers as they go on to middle and high school.

“As an alumnus of the program, I know how important the JPS music department is to the students and the community,” said Miss Cross. “We would not be able to have the same high level programs at the high school without building the foundation at the elementary level. Elementary students need a time and place in school where they can learn how to be creative and express themselves in different ways.”


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