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A bit of History

Handbell music actually originated from England. How exactly and in what way those tiny handbells appeared, it is still relatively unknown. There are a number of different versions about it. The first is that there were copies of church bells made for king’s pleasure and to enrich the court music. Another version is that the bell players in the towers realised how an instrument such as the big church bell was relatively difficult to handle. Having small copies of the bells would give them the possibility to make music in quite a different style. The third version is that the village people just had enough of ringers everyday practice who used exclusively the big tower bells. They were then compelled to come down from the tower of the church and make small copies to practise.


The bell and the church belonged together. Bells were meant for scaring away the evil spirits in the first place. And naturally, it has originated from the church for sure, this means that it has been related to religion for ages. The handbell Arsis uses is out of that sphere already. It has already been used in professional music and its aura is a bit different nowadays.


Handbell music in Estonia is very young. Actually the very first bells were brought to Estonia in 1993, which means that we are talking about only some tens years of tradition. So handbell music still in its infancy, but it is developing rather fast and the tradition is year after year being created.


Arsis opened a Handbell school in 1999 already, and we are on the way of showing how worthwhile this instrument is, especially for children and music education. That is, through this instrument, it is very easy and very simple to teach the children such primary knowledge of music, of theory. Arsis sees the way and development of handbell primarily through children musical education.

Tiina Boucher, Manager of Arsis