Group name - Hull Handbell Change Ringers

Method Ringing


Getting Started







Tool kit


  Method Ringing: Basic Rhythm

Bell Handling to Rounds and Call Changes

Ringing rounds and simple call changes gives a learner the opportunity to get the feel and rhythm of ringing without the mental challenge of change ringing.

Bell Handling

Some novices have a little difficulty to begin with in making a handbell strike, once, and once only on a handstroke or backstroke movement. It is the act of stopping the bell's movement that throws the clapper against the spring sufficiently strongly to make the clapper contact the bell. And hence it may help beginners to get a feel for the handbells standing up in order to give more room for movement than is afforded by sitting down.

Some teachers advise learners to rest their bells on their knees after the backstroke. This is a mistake and should be avoided as it is easy to dampen the sound which can be a distraction to other ringers.

Excessive upward and downward movement of the bells (sometimes described as "rat splatching") should be avoided, but a mere wrist-flick movement is poor use of wrists and does not help with assimilation of the rhythm which is vital for good ringing.

The desired optimum is a combined, controlled but relaxed movement of both elbow and wrist.

Site Sections:

A set of 12 handbells

A set of 12 handbells
Method Ringing

A set of 12 handbells

A set of 12 handbells

A set of 12 handbells

A set of 12 handbells
Hull Project

A set of 12 handbells

Handstroke first.

Change ringing starts with a handstroke which is followed by a backstroke, on a tower bell this equates to a pull on the sally followed by a pull on the tail end.

On handbells handstroke is upwards, and backstroke is the downwards.

Learning points
The visual aspect of ringing needs to be mentioned, so if a bell is rung and by accident doesn't strike, the learner needs to be taught not to "waggle the bell", just leave it as if it had properly been rung because other people will have counted the movement as a bell having been rung.

Ringing rounds

Rounds, down the scale from the highest pitched bell and finishing with the keynote, is rung clockwise. Once people have relaxed into ringing rounds it is important to listen carefully to the spacing of the bells, and to adjust to a near even spacing as possible; there is a natural tendency to make the gap between ringers slightly bigger than the gap between one's own pair of bells.

Open Handstroke Leads

The open handstroke lead.

In almost all change ringing, the rhythm is defined in blocks of two rows, a handstroke and a backstroke. These two rows are rung together without pause, and with an even spacing between each bell.
Between each block of two rows a small pause is inserted, this serves further to emphasise the rhythm of the ringing and is known as an open handstroke lead. The pause occurs after the last bell to ring at backstroke, and hence before the first bell to ring at handstroke.

The open handstroke lead needs to be explained and demonstrated.

Teaching point
Use an experienced ringer to ring 1-2 when possible, in order to demonstrate and emphasise the open handstroke lead.

Simple Call Changes

Ringing simple call changes

There is benefit in ringing call changes on 8 and 10 bells for people learning change ringing on 6. The timing / spacing on the lower numbers is easier after ringing on the higher numbers.

The first step is to jump between rounds and the "pretty" changes:

  • Queens: 135246
  • Tittums: 142536
  • Whittingtons: 125346
  • Kings: 531246

and it is worthwhile swapping the pairs of bells people are ringing in order to give practice at leading, and at ringing all of the sizes of the bells in use.

Calling the change-over between pairs of bells is a useful step towards plain hunting as it enforces the recognition of bells by numbers. Calling the up bell and down bell is helpful to learners.
To go from row 1-2-3-4-5-6 to 1-3-2-4-5-6, the call would be "2 over 3, 3 to treble".

Learning points
The spacing of bells inside tittums and whittingtons should be used to emphasize the team nature of handbell ringing and as a preparation for plain hunting; one apart in tittums is like 1 apart in coursing.

Good Rhythm

Good Striking

Spacing the bells evenly, leaving an open handstroke lead, maintaining a constant speed are all necessary aspects of good striking.

This page says "Basic Rhythm" at the top, "basic" here means a fixed constant timing, no gaps or clips.

Once we start ringing methods, bells begin "Hunting", and the rhythm varies.
Bells hunting up ring a little more slowly, bells hunting down ring a little more quickly.
This is more pronounced on towerbells, more subtle on handbells, and a handbell ringer may have a pair of bells simultaneously moving in opposite directions.

The key to good rhythm lies in listening, listening to the exclusion of everything else but the bells. This key skill is complementary to counting.

Good striking is difficult to achieve especially when one or more learners are struggling with their bell or with a method. It is the task of the tutor to identify why ringing is of poor quality, where mistakes are being made, or where the rhythm breaks down, and to address the causes where possible.

The example recordings have all been chosen for their quality.