Kansas is part of Area 8 of the Handbell Musicians of America which encompasses the states of Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska.

Handbell Musicians of America is dedicated to advancing the musical art of handbell/hand chime ringing through education, community, and communication. Browse our list of Area 8 officers, the handbell job post, area events, and our many useful handbell links.


your-vote-counts-design_GJgcvAO__LThe Nominating Committee, chaired by Past Chair of Area 8 Dolan Bayless, along with appointed members Joyce Miller and Nancy Youngman, are presenting the following nominees for election to the Area 8 Board: Chair-Elect – Beth Ann Edwards or Gwen Gepford; Secretary – Tamara Mauer Kofron or Pat Latshaw; Treasurer – Sharon Schmidt or Stephen Swanson.

Every two years following the Area 8 Festival, the members of Area 8 exercise their vote to select a Chair-Elect, Secretary, and Treasurer for the area. The slate of candidates has been approved by the Executive Committee of the Board and is now being presented to the area membership. Voting opens July 6, 2016 and closes July 22, 2016. The results of the election will be announced via email shortly after the voting period closes and in the September edition of Quavers. The elected officers take office effective October 1, 2016.
Please get acquainted with these people who have said “yes” to being a nominee for our three elected offices and then exercise your right to vote!

Voting for this election will be handled through online balloting. This system will require you to login to your Handbell Musicians of America member account for access to the ballot.  Only members in good standing holding a membership type that includes voting privileges will be allowed to cast a ballot.  In addition, our online ballot will insure only one vote per membership.  Please make sure you know how to access your online account prior to voting.  National office staff can assist you during office hours (MondayThursday, 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM), so please plan accordingly. For complete instructions on the voting process and assistance in accessing your online member account, follow this link:     http://handbellmusicians.org/area-8-voting-instructions


Beth Ann EdwardsBETH ANN EDWARDS serves as Director of Arts, Handbells, and Youth Choirs at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Des Moines, Iowa, where she directs four handbell choirs and a children’s vocal choir, oversees all arts programming, and assists with worship planning. In addition to her Master of Church Music degree with Handbell Emphasis, Beth Ann holds a degree in secondary English education, a Bachelor of Fine Arts in visual art, and a Master of Business Administration.
Her ringing career began 30 years ago in a church handbell choir. For the past 15 years she has attended advanced ringing events including Bay View Week of Handbells and Distinctly Bronze, and currently rings in the community handbell ensemble HeartBeat. Beth Ann has directed all ages and levels of handbell ringers since 1999. Her first handbell choir, comprised of junior high school students, shaped director and musicians as they learned to make music, work as an ensemble, and become worship leaders; she never looked back. The education and networking opportunities provided by Handbell Musicians of America have been instrumental in her development as a ringer and director. These experiences led her to attend graduate school to receive a Master of Church Music degree in 2012 at Concordia University Wisconsin, studying with Dr. John Behnke. She has made life-long friendships through handbell ringing, and has learned first-hand how membership in a handbell choir can change lives.
Beth Ann is a member of the Area 8 Membership Team, she chairs the Donald E. Allured Original Composition Award committee, and has served as secretary on the Iowa (AGEHR) board. She has held several appointed and elected positions in community and civic organizations including Des Moines Choral Society, Arts for the City, and Junior League. Beth Ann is married and has three grown children and two grandchildren. She balances her music activities with painting in her studio, travel, knitting, and reading.

Gwen GepfordGWEN GEPFORD has been involved in handbells for more than 45 years, transitioning from ringer to director in 1989. Over the past 24 years she has developed the handbell program at Church of the Resurrection, which currently includes seven handbell choirs for ringers of all ages and abilities. In addition to leading morning worship, a favorite part of her position is leading the middle and high school youth on a week‐long mission trip, sharing music with the homeless, elderly and children. She has attended three National Seminars and the International Handbell Symposium in Orlando. She looks forward to learning more at the International Seminar this July in Vancouver.
Beginning in 2005 Gwen organized Ring in the Spring, a Handbell Musicians of America endorsed festival. The goal of the festival is to bring in nationally recognized clinicians to a one‐day workshop for ringers in Area 8. The festival attracts ringers from the surrounding 5 states, with attendance around 300.
With Chemistry and Medical Technology degrees from Kansas University, Gwen worked for several years at KU Medical Center before returning to her love of music. She enjoys sailing, reading, and skiing with her husband and three adult children, all of whom grew up ringing. Family members are the best subs!


Tamara Mauer KofronTAMARA MAUER KOFRON holds a bachelor’s degree in administrative management and her day job is with Modern Builders where she has been the office manager for more than 26 years.
She joined the bell choir at First Christian Church in Cedar Falls, Iowa, more than 23 years ago. The director at that time encouraged her to learn about handbells and all the possibilities they represent as a musical instrument. The director set Tamara on a path that would eventually lead to the joys of solo ringing and a passion for all things handbell.
Tamara enjoys attending national and area events. Her first foray outside of her home church was to participate in Solo Ensemble Extravaganza (SEE) in Glen Eyrie, CO, in 2005. In addition to SEE, Tamara has participated in the Area 8 conferences, National Seminar, and Distinctly Bronze events. “I try to attend as many local (Iowa) events as possible. One of my favorite things about attending is meeting people that enjoy handbells as much as I do and never tire talking about them!”
Tamara has had the distinct honor of sharing her love of handbells as a participant in the Showcase concerts at the Area 8 Conferences in Topeka and in Davenport. What a fabulous experience the Area 8 organization offers to its members!
Tamara looks forward to meeting many more members of Area 8 in Springfield this summer and hopes to find ways to be a more active participant with the organization.

Pat LatshawnPAT LATSHAW currently serves Area 8 as Communications Chair and has enjoyed working with the Board in this capacity to increase awareness of our organization and improve the lines of communication with our members.
She has been involved with music since an early age and studied flute at the University of Kansas while earning a B.A. in German. She has been ringing for 30 years and is currently the director of handbells at Lutheran Church of the Resurrection in Prairie Village, Kansas. Pat enjoys solo and ensemble ringing and is a member of Rezound!, Kansas City’s auditioned community handbell ensemble. She has been the ensemble’s Publicity Director for 8 years.
She is active as a clinician and instructor at regional workshops and Area 8 Festivals and has been involved on the organizing committees for the Fall Show-Me Ring in Missouri and Resonate, an advanced ringing workshop in Kansas.
She currently serves as secretary on the board of directors for the Midwest Chamber Ensemble in Prairie Village, Kansas.


Sharon SchmidtSHARON SCHMIDT began her active involvement with Handbell Musicians of America in 1994 when she joined the Illinois State Committee, and she remains active on the committee. At the national level, Sharon was faculty coordinator for the 2003 National Seminar, chair for ten Distinctly Bronze events from 2004-2013, co-chair for the 2007 Distinctly Bronze European Tour, served on the 2008 International Handbell Symposium Committee, and was appointed as national Certification Program Coordinator in 2013. She received the President’s Award in 2013 in appreciation of her service to the Guild.
After learning to ring in the 1970’s, Sharon began directing at Gary UMC in Wheaton, Illinois, in 1985, where she continues to direct Altar Bells and Sanctuary Ringers. A cur-rent and charter member of The Agape Ringers, a Chicago-area community handbell ensemble formed in 1992, Sharon was its first (and current) president. She has taught many aspects of the art of handbell ringing at the state, area, and national levels since 1995.
Educated as a chemical engineer with BS & MS degrees, Sharon worked at the Amoco Research Center as a research engineer, economics analyst, supervisor, and project manager. Since leaving in 1999, she’s studied music theory and accounting, and exercised her project management skills on Guild events and church projects in addition to operating a small business serving the handbell community. She and her recently retired husband Gerry enjoy scuba diving when she’s not at a “bell thing.”

Stephen SwansonSTEPHEN SWANSON is a CPA for the largest local accounting firm in the Quad Cities area. His clients include multiple industries including small to large non-profit organizations. He has served on multiple boards in various capacities. He has enjoyed serving Area 8 as the Financial Advisor and would be honored to serve the Area using his financial background and skills as Treasurer.
Steve was among a group of individuals that formed the Quad Cities very own community handbell ensemble RiverBend Bronze in early 2013. Steve has been involved in music in one form or another for more than 30 years and ringing for nearly 20 years. Since taking over the baton at his church, he has challenged his ringers to improve their group’s musicianship, increased its membership, expanded the equipment to include a five-octave set of chimes and a fifth octave of bells, started a second ensemble, and coached duets and ensembles. Steve helped introduce another church to the joys of ringing and to establish their own program. He has been quite active sharing the wonderful art of ringing since being bitten by the bell bug and wants to do more. He looks forward to serving in any capacity that would benefit the Area. He lives in Moline where his cat, Ella, allows him to serve on her staff.


The Chime Loan Program for Kansas is looking for someone to host our 3 octave set of chimes.  If you or someone you know is interested in this wonderful education opportunity, please contact our Chime Chair Shirley Myers. Our chimes are free to use for elementary, middle and high school music courses.  We also provide a one-year membership to Handbell Musicians of America for the group.

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