Gail Welk found her love for handbells when she first joined the bell choir in 1986 at Wesley UMC in Bloomington IL. In 1988, when the choir needed a new director, ringers decided they would each take a turn directing a piece. With only flute and no directing experience, Gail tried it out and has been directing there since. Today the Handbell Ministries at Wesley has 4 ringing groups – 3rd-5th grade Choirchimes®, Jr/Sr High bell choir, Sr High bell ensemble and the same adult bell choir that she began ringing in 31 years ago.
During her early years of directing, Gail attended many handbell workshops including AGEHR National Director Seminars. She approached each event like a sponge, absorbing everything about ringing, directing techniques and getting and sharing ideas about leading a bell choir.
Gail is now an accomplished clinician having taught at Handbell Musicians of America Area 8 festivals, Choirchime festivals, "The Fellowship" festivals and many area church and school workshops. She has been directing at Intergenerational Handbell Camp in Parkville, MO for 25 years. Since 2011, Gail rings with Bells In Motion, a community handbell choir based in Springfield, IL who excites audiences with their Jazz and Pops repertoire.
In 1994 Gail became a Malmark Sales Representative in Illinois and Missouri and enjoys teaching her clients the fundamentals for their new Handbells and/or Choirchimes. She believes that helping a choir learn proper techniques from the beginning is key to the success and enjoyment for the ringers, director and listeners.
When she is not busy with handbells, Gail works full time for Bloomington Public Schools for the Director of Special Education. She is a graduate of Michigan State University with a BS in Retailing of Clothing and Textiles. Gail has two married daughters, both of whom are ringers, and 2 grandchildren. Gail was married a year ago to Bill Welk with 36 ringers participating in their wedding. Bill learned to ring this summer and just made his debut with that very same adult bell choir at Wesley. wesley-umc.com/music/handbell-choirs
Gail is honored to represent Malmark as a salesperson in Illinois and Missouri. Feel free to contact her at GWelk_Malmark@juno.com