Handbells The Tradition at GSAA Continues

July 01, 2006 | Debra McCarver

For more than 25 years Gem State Adventist Academy has taught and played handbells. The program continues to expand under the direction of music director Ben Purvis. “We still teach handbells and perform,” says Purvis, “but we have also seen a need for events that teach youth bell-ringing basics and gets them excited about being involved in music.”

Purvis started to give kids this opportunity with an event called Cool Ringings, which invites kids in grades 5 through 8 to campus for a three-day intensive clinic the third weekend in January. More than 350 students from Utah, California, Oregon and Idaho have attended Cool Ringings.

After doing two years of Cool Ringings, Soundwave members began asking for an intensive workshop of their own. Thus was born Total Workout, a two-day handbell event. Total Workout is the only high-school-age workshop of its kind in the Pacific Northwest and has drawn groups from Idaho, Oregon and Washington. Total Workout with Kevin McChesney, world-renowned handbell composer and director, is planned for Oct. 6–7.

“When I’m teaching kids to play bells," says Purvis, "they’re really learning skills like leadership, commitment and responsibility to take with them through the rest of their lives.”

For more information about Gem State Adventist Academy and their handbell program, call (208) 459-1627 or visit www.gemstate.org.