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Handbell    Programs
Handbells promote hand-eye coordination, cognitive development and physical dexterity
Senior Living Centers
Bronze Unlimited!
Our Future
Future programs focused on Veteran Rehabilitation and Addiction Treatment Programs
Helping those who help themselves

Our Handbell programs at Senior Living Centers

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Handbells for Seniors
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See our Performance Schedule, buy tickets, or inquire for bookings

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Bronze Unlimited!
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We hope to partner with Addiction Treatment and Veteran Rehabilitation programs and bring Handbell to the participants in these programs.

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Our Future
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See how you can make difference

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Why Use Handbells?

Our primary mission is to bring handbell programs to low/fixed-income senior living centers, Veteran Rehabilitation Programs, and Addiction Treatment Programs. Our programs are provided at no cost to the participants, facilities, or the host program.


Physically Therapeutic

The motions associated with ringing handbells are therapeutic while being easily accessible to everyone, even those with limited range of motion.

Manual Dexterity

Ringing handbells does not require the level of manual dexterity as playing other instruments such as piano, trumpet, clairnet, guitar, violin, etc. But, requires hand-eye coordination and controlled movements.

Mood Elevating

Many studies have shown how just listening to music releases dopamine that helps to elevate our mood, fight depression and can help to recall past memories. These effects are increased when someone is actively playing music.

Social Activity

Playing Handbells is a social activity that involves multiple people in order play the instrument. It's similar to playing a single piano with multiple people and each person is responsible for just 2 keys.

Group Bonding

In order to play handbells the ringers must learn to depend on and help one another. It fosters group bonding natrually.

Exercise Your Mind

Playing music is a wonderful and powerful means to stimulate, exercise, and develop our brains. Research suggests playing music keeps our brains engaged and is a total brain workout!

Our Interview with Neal Augenstein of
WTOP Radio

Full interview here WTOP

Radio sound bite #1:           Radio sound bite #2:

Recipe for success!

Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.

Henry Ford

Oh yeah - don't forget our Wish List

While we have been able to borrow handbells and handchimes to start our programs, we still need to purchase our own equipment to ensure are programs can continue. Below is a list of items that we need. You can contribute to a specific item or to our general operating fund. Any amount is welcome and will help to support our programs.


Malmark Handbells

We have a 3 octave set of Malmark handbells that was generously donated by a donor who wishes to remain anonymous. We are looking to purchase the 4th octave add-on set ($7,300.00) and the 5th octave add-on set ($13,925.00).

Malmark Choirchimes

We have been able to raise enough money to purchase our initial 3 octave set of Choirchimes. We would like to buy the 4th octave add-on set ($1,875.00) and the 5th octave add-one set ($2,650.00).

Handbell Tables

In order to perform we need to have tables with foam and coverings for the handbells to rest on. We currently have 3 6-foot tables, but need 5 additional ones. Each table is about $45.00.

Handbell Mallets

Handbell music often calls for the musician to use a mallet to strike the outside of the bell instead of swinging the bell so the clapper strikes the bell. In order to prevent damage or cracking the bell castings, special handbell mallets are necessary. Additionally, there are different types of mallets depending on which bell it is being used on. The large, low-bass bells use a mallet with a string wrapped head, which the smaller high-pitched bells used mallets with a rubber or plastic head. The mallets cost $32.00 - $88.00 per pair.

Table Foam & Covers

Since some handbell techniques require the bells to be struck with mallets or pushed into the table. Each table is covered in 4" thick medium-density foam to prevent the bells from being damaged. The foam is typically cut into 3 foot sections and put into a muslin cover. Each piece of foam is $45.00 and each cover cost $29.00.

Malmark Cymbells

Cymbells are bell castings permanently mounted in a rack and with no clapper. They are played like a xylophone with special mallets. They come in 3 separate racks: C5-C6 $1,995.00; C6-C7 $1,625.00; C7-C8 $1,355.00

Table Covers

Every table and its foam pads are covered with black corduroy table cloths. The coverings are custom made and corduroy fabric is used because some techniques involved rubbing the bell against the fabric. Corduroy and velvet produce the best sound quaility when performing this technique. The table cloths are $210.00 for each 6' covering.

Donate by Check or On-line

Checks (payable to Music To Free): 10618 Norman Ave., Fairfax VA 22030
On-line (processed by Square): [Click Here]

Meet our Founder!

For my part I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of the stars makes me dream. - Vincent Van Gogh

Alan has always made helping the under-served a priority. He met his wife, a special-education teacher, while volunteering for Special Olympics. They started the first 4-H club for special needs students in Virginia before they were married. They have both been active in their local, national and global communities by participating in mission trips, food programs, community support programs for over 20 years.

Alan started his handbell journey about 18 years ago when his kids were playing handbells at Fairfax United Methodist Church. Church policy required a 2nd adult present for all youth-related activities and Alan became bell-dad. Since he had played instruments before, the director often asked him to fill in when a ringer was absent and that was all he needed to get hooked. Alan soon began ringing with the adult choir at the church and slinging the low bass bells. After his 3rd child left for college, Alan auditioned for a community group in Northern Virginia. He rang with them for 4 seasons and also served as Vice President and President. During the COVID pandemic of 2020, Alan decided to combine his love of handbells with his passion for helping others and started Music To Free, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization. With handbells and handchimes that were loaned to the organization, programs started in July of 2021 at two local low/fixed-income senior living centers. These programs are provided at no cost to the participants or the facilities. Music To Free provides the instruction, music, and instruments for the weekly rehearsals. Alan is currently the Handbell Director at Fairfax United Methodist Church and sits on the board of the Hanbell Musicians of America for Area 3 (Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, Washington, DC, and North Carolina).

Alan has brought his passion for music to those that are often overlooked or forgotten. Teaching those that have never played a music instrument the language of music and opening up an entire new world. Giving them a new sense of purpose and accomplishment that helps to enrich their lives.

Play It Forward at Fairfax United Methodist Church, Fairfax, VA July 23, 2023 9:30 am Service

We're not the only ones excited about our programs!

From one of our Partners

The Handbell class has become a bell of hope for the Hunters Woods Fellowship House residents. This class was beneficial for the residents who felt isolated during Covid Pandemic to fine-tune their musical skills and as a source of spiritual comfort and support.

image01Jane K. | Service Coordinator | Fellowship Square/Hunters Woods

Another Partner...

The Hand bell program provides residents with an opportunity to socialize with their peers and allows them to use their hand eye coordination and listen[ing] skills. The residents really enjoy it!

image01Ashley G. | Volunteer Outreach and Activity Manager | Culpepper Gardens

We can't do this without help from our volunteers!

It brings me great joy to participate with the seniors in their handbell group. It shows that is never too late to learn something new.

image01Ms. V. | MTF Volunteer

From one of our programs

Alan [is] a paragon of patience for older adults who have difficulty learning music or repeating exercises. His respect for seniors, passion, and ongoing efforts ring out today in the hearts of the residents.

image01Jane K. | Service Coordinator | Fellowship Square/Hunters Woods