There has been much discussion lately about the policy changes made by Schulmerich. Most importantly, their new policy related to the ability for ensembles to buy spare parts for their bells has been scrutinized. Are these new changes beneficial or debilitating?
I would like to take the stance of Schulmerich policies being a positive change.
Schulmerich’s justification for the change relates back to economics. A company that makes more money, can pump more money into research and development, as well as the promotion of their product. With handbells we are in a unique situation that any promotion Schulmerich does for handbells enhances all of the media attention for our art form. So transversely, the more money Schulmerich (or Malmark) brings in, the stronger handbells will become in the world music scene.
I am a religious follower of anything handbell related online: Handbell-L, any and all Facebook pages, Google alerts. Everywhere people are up in arms over this policy change. Is all of this rabble-rousing doing anything to help the greater handbell community? People should be embracing the fact that a handbell company is finally pushing into the 21st century and making changes! Sure, we might disagree with some of these changes, but instead of the endless complaining, there should be healthy discussions. Schulmerich is certainly pushing as hard as they can to endorse healthy discussions, even by having representatives replying to EVERY question on EVERY forum and site (their representatives have been extremely polite in the face of rude remarks, and have offered answers that more than satisfactorily answer all questions posed). They are doing an extremely admirable job in making sure their push for advancement in handbell production is as seamless and beneficial as possible.
I personally am looking forward to the new ways Schulmerich is going to start looking for revenue, and if I can help them help handbells, I will go out of my way to help. Every person that has been witnessing the new surge of handbell musicianship should be in contact with Schulmerich (and Malmark) in search of new ways to make handbells bigger, better, and stronger. The more people that know what a handbell is, the more of us that can make a living playing handbells and pursue what we love. If Schulmerich’s new parts policy helps accomplish this goal, good for them; I am happy to continue offering helpful, not harmful, critiques to their changes.
Full disclosure, my home ensemble plays on Schully’s (our bells have the unique quality of having a very bright tone that puts them on the level of Malmark, yet still can produce the gorgeous mellow sounds Schully has been known for). However, just to make things fun, we play on Malmark chimes and our 5th octave is comprised of Malmark bells. This combination of different bells, in my opinion, makes for an ensemble that has an extremely unique tone that is well balanced, more-so than a single set of bells.
Photo Credit: NVJ on Flickr