New Ensembles for Bell Kits

PerMus Publications has always been a leader in educational music for percussion.  Our new series of bell ensembles will help the elementary and middle school band teacher introduce mallet ensemble playing to their percussion section.  It will also help answer the question: “What do I do with these bell kits?’ We have approached several of our top composers to arrange ensembles that can be played on the limited range of a standard beginners bell kit. They have come through with several fun and educational pieces. These pieces are also playable on any mallet instrument or can be used with mallet instrument and any “C” instrument.  Great for upper strings, flutes and guitars with mallets instruments.

Amazing Grace - Murray Houllif - Trio Easy - A trio arrangement of the classic hymn. In 3/4 time written in C major with a modulation to F major. Great for teaching dynamics as well as ensemble playing. 

Percusive Arts Society Review:

Murray Houllif ’s arrangement of “Amazing Grace” is one in a collection of short educational pieces for standard beginner bell kit ensemble. It is noted in the score, however, that this piece can be played on any combination of three keyboard instruments.
    This arrangement begins in C major and modulates to F major in the second half. Players one and two each have the opportunity to execute the melody, while player three remains in a harmonizing role throughout. Elementary or middle school ensemble directors will find this piece optimal for working on dynamics and following musical road maps, as well as helping students identify musical roles and working on ensemble balance.

—Julie Licata 

ME-10125  $10.00 

A Pretty Place - Nicholaus Meyers - Trio Easy - A trio arrangement of an orriginal work. In 3/4 time written in Bb major  Great for teaching dynamics as well as ensemble playing. Parts are of equal difficulty.

Beethoven’s Bellmen - Jeffrey T. Parthun Sr. - Trio Easy - Based on Ode to Joy with a surprise quote at the end, Beethoven's Bellmen is an excellent contest piece for beginning mallet players.  It is playable on any combination of keyboard instruments but works especially well with bell kits. 
ME-10114 (WI)  $10.00 

Bells on Ice, “From Skater’s Waltz" - Jeffrey T. Parthun Sr. - Trio Easy - This arrangement of the theme from Emile Waldteufel’s “Les Patineurs, op. 183, is for three players.  Jeffrey has a mini-lesson included that explains glissando techniques and double stops as used in the arrangement.

Percussive Arts Sociewty Review:

Much to the chagrin of many percussionists, the bell kit just hasn’t gone away. For those who still use the kits, Jeffrey T. Parthun has written a trio that would be perfect for beginning players. This trio includes some fun aspects of playing, like glissandos and double stops, that would be of interest to young performers. It’s only about 60 measures, equaling a couple of minutes, and would be doable as a percussion feature on a beginning band concert. You could easily double and/or triple the parts depending on the size of your percussion section.

It’s a bit too long to simply memorize, so I also like the fact that students would need to read this in performance, reinforcing reading skills. The composer offers several paragraphs of performance notes that would be helpful to any beginning band director. This also might be a good exercise for the percussion techniques class when talking about bell kits and keyboard percussion.

—Julia Gaines 

ME-10127 (WI) $10.00 

Joy To The World - Mark Shelton - Bell Trio plus one Aux. Percussion Easy - A classic Christmas Carol arranged for bell trio with the addition of an auxillary percussionist playing tambourine and sleigh bells.  Great small ensemble for the holiday season. Hear a performance of Joy To The World below

Percussivce Arts Society Review:

This arrangement features a nice setting of a well-known Christmas carol. The title page lists that the piece is scored for three bell kits, but the back page says that other keyboard percussion instruments may be used. The opening motive is stated by the Bell 1 part and is echoed by the second part an octave lower. The rest of the carol is presented with fresh rhythms and content. There are creative uses of extending melodic materials, that differ from the traditional, more familiar rhythmic phrases. Most of the melodies and harmonies are assigned to the top two players, and the third part consists of double stops playing the bass notes of the chords.

All the keyboard parts can be performed with two mallets, and the tambourine and sleighbells can both be played by one player. This is a nice introductory-level ensemble that will provide educational experience and be successful for December programs.

—George Frock 

ME-10128  $10.00 

Mozart Mosaic - Ryan Garner - Trio Easy/Medium - This is a collection of Mozart melodies from Eine Kline Nacht Music, Sonata in C, Symphony 25, Rondo Alla Turca and Ah vous dirai-je (Twinkle, twinkle).  The three parts are balanced so everyone gets a chance at being the solo voice.

Percussive Arts Society Review:

Taking brief passages of themes from Mozart such as “A Little Night Music” and “Rondo ala Turk” among others, this keyboard percussion trio would be appropriate for a very young set of keyboard percussionists. The tonality is C major, and the tempo would probably be moderately fast (however, there is no tempo marking in the score). There is an indicated option for the substitution of other keyboard percussion instruments, but the published parts are printed as scored for bells.

The rhythms are largely quarter notes and half notes with a few eighth-note patterns interspersed throughout this 51-measure lackluster arrangement for three younger performers. It would have been better to indicate the optional keyboard assignments for possible instrument substitutions. It might also be useful not to have the melody broken up among the three performers (as opposed to a “hocket” arranging concept in this scoring). While this compositional concept might make sense for more advanced students, younger performers might not be as fluent in matching each other’s dynamic and stylistic hand-offs of the Mozart themes. Perhaps a suggested instrument adaptation (to include a vibraphone and/or marimba) might assist in a successful performance of this trio. In its present form, this trio might be more difficult than it was intended.

—Jim Lambert 

ME-10126 (WI) $10.00 

Pavan - Luis Milan - Murray Houllif - Quartet Easy - One of our most popular composers arranges a Pavan for bell quartet. In the key of D, this arrangement will also work on any mallet instrument combination. Some meter variation and well placed dynamics make this an interesting piece to teach as well as play.

© Per-Mus Publications LLC 2024