Martha Lynn Thompson, Queen of (Outstanding) Transcriptions!

Martha Lynn Thompson was the Organist and Associate Director of Music at St. James United Methodist Church in Little Rock, Arkansas, from 1969 until her retirement in July 2002 when she was made Organist Emeritus. Together with her husband, Feilx, they directed the handbell program which grew to include 13 bell choirs!

Martha Lynn is a 1962 graduate of Henderson State University and, in recognition of her outstanding career achievements, in 2011 she received the Distinguished Alumni Award, the highest honor the University bestows.

Martha Lynn Thompson

In 1989 she was elected American Guild of English Handbell Ringers National Secretary and for two years served on its Board of Directors. In 1995 she was given the status of Master Instructor of Handbell Notation, and in 2001 she was made an Honorary Life Member – the highest honor bestowed by the Guild.

Martha Lynn has many published arrangements and transcriptions that range from music for the beginning bell choir to music for the most advanced choirs.

Coppers Classic is delighted to include Martha Lynn’s arrangement of the Leroy Anderson classic, Sleigh Ride in our 2018 repertoire.


Meet Betty Radford, Composer

Coppers Classic is pleased to offer a diverse repertoire celebrating composers from around the globe. This year’s repertoire includes “On the Boardwalk” by Canadian composer, Betty Radford.

Betty has been ringing handbells for over 25 years.  After retiring from elementary music teaching she has turned her compositional skills to creating music for smaller and larger Betty B. Radfordhandbell choirs from level 1 – 5. She has won numerous new composition awards from the Alberta Guild of English Handbell Ringers (ALGEHR).  Betty was deeply honoured to have her composition, So Glorious and Free, chosen as the Canadian piece for the 2016 International Handbell Symposium.

Repertoire Has Been Posted . . . What’s it All About?

Introducing the repertoire and composer/arrangers for our Coppers Classic literature is always a pleasure. “Acclamations” by Dr. William Payn  (Hope/Agape 2782) is one of his newer compositions. It was was written as a surprise for Dr. Payn’s good friend and colleague, Ramona Miller. Her ringers, with added alumni, secretly learned the piece and presented it at her final retirement performance. Ms. Miller was director of Cathedral Bells in California from 1995-2013.

Dr. Payn recently retired as director of Choral Studies and Bucknell University, Pennsylvania. He is well known as a conductor, composer and teacher. His vocal and handbell choirs have performed all over the world. Dr. Payn teaches the Conducting Master Class for Handbell Musicians of America, the biannual Virtuoso Handbell Choir held in Raleigh, and is the Music Director and Conductor of the Susquehanna Valley Chorale and Orchestra.

New Music Feels Like a Birthday Present!

Pablo Casals, the world-famous cellist, conductor, composer said, “Music is the divine way to tell beautiful, poetic things to the heart.”

There is an inner buzz of excitement when beginning a new piece of music. It is all at once discovery of a new sound world, the challenge of what surprises does my part hold and the unmatched thrill of being a part of a group to make musical magic.

We’ve just posted the wonderful repertoire for Coppers Classic 2018. It is a combination of favorites from handbells “ancient” past—the 1990’s—and a couple pieces whose e-ink is still drying on the page. We have music for Christmas, a bit of jazz, spirituals, compositions by composers from Canada, Hong Kong and Japan and good old rock ‘n’ roll. There are tricky treble passages, battery-wonderful and happy-big-bass pieces. No matter where in the choir you ring, you’ll learn, you’ll work hard, you’ll grow as a handbell musician and you will leave with a deep sense of personal accomplishment.

Looking forward to making music with you in October.

All By Myself! How do I practice?

Handbell musicians face a special conundrum when it comes to personal practice. Few of us own our own bells and it’s a challenge to go to where our bells our stored, haul out tables and foam and practice our 2 notes for a few hours. Hmmm . . . how do we make this exciting and sufficiently compelling to look at our score between rehearsals?

Understanding My Part. Carlos Avila, a very accomplished professional percussionist, said “I’m a better musician because I play handbells”. How true! If we erase everything except your part . . . OMG, every composition becomes a level 18 piece! If we take the time to look at rhythmic complexity on our own between rehearsals, we  build confidence.

Score marking. There’s a false sense that only rank beginners mark their score. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. The best handbell musicians mark their score so they are ready for challenges. In the  beginning it might be crucial to mark every time a bell is exchanged, but  even advanced musicians mark so that they will successfully ring smoothly. One of the greatest tools for building personal success is a pencil.

Listening. We are more than 2-note musicians. We are artists who are fitting into the larger who of the handbell orchestra in order to create a soaringly glorious moment of music. If the music is in our mind, it is easier to know how to fit into the whole. And, (this one is a biggie for your director) your confidence in looking up will increase many times over.

Patience. Most of us work hardest when we believe we are trusted and valued. Those who practice are always in that category. Be patient with difficult passages. Slow down and figure out what is daunting and how to solve those issues and then work through slowly enough to succeed. When frustration rises, walk away. When we return to a challenge with fresh eyes, more things are possible. Great music making, like fine wine, takes time. Give the tough parts your devotion every day with care and commitment. You will get where you are going if you go there with patience.

Coppers Classic will offer a community email digest so you can work on setting up local practice sessions. That will help so that  you won’t necessarily always need to practice “all by yourself”, but know that you can.

By the way, “All By Myself” is a song. I thought you might enjoy this rendition by 17 year old pianist Emily Bear combining Rachmaninoff with the song.

See you in October.

Earn $5

bellCoppers Classic is proud to be composed of members of Handbell Musicians of America.

Did you know that when you invite a colleague to join and they mention your name in their registration, you get $5 in “handbell bucks”?! That’s right.

Every time your name gets mentioned, $5 is added to your account.

You can use those bucks to reduce your costs for things like your membership renewal or National Seminar or other National events. Pretty wonderful.

Pass the good word!

What we Love.

Coppers Classic was founded with the idea in mind that, if coppers (intermediate) level handbell musicians who love the instrument and who are willing to work hard are given the right environment and guidance, the musical and personal results will be astounding. Since most handbell musicians ring with ensembles with a wide range of experience and skills, it is an entirely new experience to spend 3 days with equally skilled, remarkably motivated and passionate handbell musicians.

Looking at the repertoire list, many musicians have been known to comment “What was I thinking?!” or “How can I possibly accomplish that?!!” Invariably the passion and hard work each musician brings pays huge rewards. Cheryl Zents of Half Moon Bay, CA wrote, “Thank you for one of the most memorable experiences of my life! I enjoyed the whole week-end, but as the concert progressed, I felt more and more emotional, like my heart was full to overflowing.”

Our 2018 repertoire list is shaping up.  The final list will be posted by the end of June.  Meanwhile, please take a look at the compositions we’ve tackled the first three years.  Some great stuff and more great on the way!

Coppers Classic Joins the New Century!!

Welcome to our new website,, fresh off the e-press!

We are ALMOST ready to launch the registration online. You can see the Event Details now and make your travel plans. Please send a comment in the Contact menu and we will notify you once the online registration is ready to rock and roll.

Very soon you will be able to:

  • Find current information about the event
  • Fill out your registration forms
  • Apply for the Area 10 scholarship
  • Pay your registration
  • Purchase a polo shirt with our logo
  • Sign up for our Thursday night special class, Tackling Treble Tough Stuff (and you know there’s plenty of that!!!)

Our plan is to continue to update the site (repertoire coming before the end of June) and post some live video during the event so your friends and relatives can see you at work.

Check it out. We think you’ll love the convenience!!

The Journey Begins

Thanks for joining us! Area 9, Area 10, Area 11, and Area 12 musicians were all here in 2017!