Push Bells vs. Hand Bells
Which one is right for you?
If you're anything like me, you went to college with your mind set on becoming a high school music teacher and somewhere along your journey you ended up teaching elementary music and maybe not being too prepared to do so.
I was coming from a middle school where I taught 3 periods of band and 2 periods of classroom ukulele.
Through my lens of an instrumentalist and band director I saw that my new elementary classroom only had woodblocks, eisa drums (local Okinawan percussion instrument), castanets, and a box of hand bells.
Out of all of my options, the hand bells looked most promising, so I grabbed the box, cleaned the dust off of the bells, and went to the Internet to find some help.
Why I transitioned from hand bells to push bells
After a few tries I quickly realized that hand bells were not the easiest for 1st and 2nd graders to play. The kids LOVED the idea of playing the bells, but they struggled to anticipate the beat and produce a ring at the correct time.
3rd and 4th graders did just fine with the hand bells. They intuitively knew that they needed to move their arm and hand just before the beat for the bell's ring to land on the beat.
Not wanting to leave my 1st and 2nd graders out, I looked for a solution and found push bells.
Push bells have a button and spring mechanism that produces a sound when you push on the top of the bell. This means that there is no delay on the bell's ring.
Push bells need to be on a flat surface and the note names are always visible, which adds to the convenience of playing them. When you hold a hand bell, the note name of the bell is in the bottom and not always visible.
Why I like using bells
Both push bells and hand bells come with stickers that label each bell's note.
This means that there are two ways children can read the music:
- By color
- By note name
Bells and boomwhackers
In a perfect world, bells and boomwhackers would have matching colors, but unfortunately that's not the case.
Notes G, A, and B are a slightly different color
The silver lining: both instruments are labeled, so as long as you teach your students to check the note names on each instrument, they will be fine!