Valerie Stephenson teaches instrumental and vocal lessons to students of all ages and is an active handbell composer, arranger, author, conductor, and clinician. Currently, Stephenson directs the Southside Handbell Ensemble and is a member of a community handbell choir called the First Coast Ringers.
Stephenson is well known in music circles for her many years of participation and leadership in the American Guild of English Handbell Ringers, Inc. (AGEHR). She served on the Area VI Board of the AGEHR for over fourteen years and even represented the area on the national board. She then went on to serve as the Florida state chair for Area IV of the AGEHR for several years. AGEHR has recognized her for her extraordinary work as music director of Trinity Episcopal School by presenting her with one of the first Exemplary Handbell Program awards. In 2014, she was awarded the prestigious Honorary Life Membership Award by the Handbell Musicians of America, which “is reserved for individuals of the highest caliber who have made outstanding contributions to the art of handbell ringing,” according to handbellmusicians.org.
Stephenson is a regular contributor to Overtones, a handbell journal, and for three years she authored a humorous column called Potpourri. She has co-written three musicals for children and has published over 250 compositions.
Ms. Stephenson received a BME from Florida State University and an MM in theory and composition from the University of Wisconsin, for which she was awarded a Ford Foundation grant.