Group name - Hull Handbell Change Ringers

Method Ringing


Getting Started







Tool kit


  Method Ringing - Execution Skills

Seven Steps towards Mastery

The exact mix of skills needed for any one piece of ringing is unique. Whichever memory technique(s) you use, following the position of the treble is very valuable, followed in short order by awareness of position (see Bedrock Skills).

Tried and Trusted Techniques

This page has seven specific extensions of the basic skills.

Whilst all of these techniques are of value, it is worthwhile tackling them purposefully, one at a time. Classically, being better able to see the position of the treble is a major aid to ringing complex methods, and a good starting point for the other techniques.

Build up your toolkit in a stepwise manner, adding in extras when the opportunity occurs. The Method progressions are designed to enable the toolkit to be expanded.

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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

Track the Treble

Track the Treble

In treble dominated methods, the work of a pair of bells is defined relative to the position of the treble inside the change-rows. Therefore the skill of keeping track of the position of the treble (whilst ringing 3-4, or 5-6, etc.) is a significant advantage.

A gradual build-up of skill is important.

Here are some tips to look for

  • In Plain Bob, the treble rings in seconds when calls are made on the backstroke prior to the treble's two blows at lead.
  • In Plain Bob, when the tenors ring their split lead, the treble hunts between them, and lies behind when they meet and cross in 45 in Minor, 67 in Major.
  • In Double Bob, look for the treble reaching 5ths just 2 whole pulls after leading. This is the cue for dodging in 1-2 and 3-4 at the Half Lead.
  • In Kent and Oxford, the slow bell makes seconds over each working bell in turn as the treble works through the four dodges 3-4 up, 5-6 up, 5-6 down, 3-4 down.

It's easy to lose track of the treble when you're counting your way through the hunting within Plain Bob, sure, just try to pick it up again at the next dodge.

Track the treble is a very useful skill. Tell your brain that you expect it to find a way of being fully aware of the position of the treble, all of the time, and don't accept "that's too hard" as an answer.


Awareness of Position

The challenge is to ring your pair accurately in amongst the other bells, especially on the higher numbers, without frying your brains.

Rising to the challenge starts in Plain Hunting/Plain Bob with the technique of ringing two bells as one pair. Bell "A" is rung in a place relative to the lead, and bell "B" is rung in a place relative to bell "A". (e.g. "One from lead and one between").

However, as the number of bells being rung increases, so does the potential separation of a pair, and counting becomes more difficult. On 8 bells 3 apart is easily countable, 5 apart can be counted but does not last long, 6 apart is opposites.

On 10 and 12, 7 apart and 9 apart require different techniques, and the use of coursing bells, or method structure is suggested.

In all of this, it is important to be continuously aware of the intended places in which the pair should be rung. Ringing the standard Treble Bob Methods, Kent and Oxford, helps to develop this skill as the coursing order is mostly preserved, and the hunting and dodging patterns are like Plain Bob. However, the extra dodges enable better awareness of position.

The static methods such as Hull and Bourne Surprise Minor, and Superlative S Major can contribute to the development of positional awareness.

One extra technique for improving positional awareness is to "Emphasised counting".

Instructions and double line for 2-3

Diagram: 1r.07.01 Positional Counting.

Emphasised counting is a valuable technique, it:

  • develops good concentration
  • encourages listening in detail
  • helps get the rhythm
  • forms one building block of the Bll Jackson technique for ringing Surprise Major Methods

Crucially, this technique enables identifying places within the change rows by listening and rhythm. The value of this increases in moving on to ringing Major, Royal, etc.

The extension to the other hunting patterns on 6 bells is self-evident.

Ring it all

Ring all the PN Elements

Plain Bob Minor has place notation elements: X, 16, 12, 14, 1234. It does not use: 34, 36, 56, 1456, 3456. In order to ring Treble Bob and Surprise methods, competence at ringing all of the structural elements is needed. Practise at 36 and 56 can be gained by ringing Double Bob, and St. Clements' C.B. Minor, and 1456 comes in as a single in Reverse Bob Minor. Place notation element 34 is very difficult to build into Plain Methods but is readily available via Oxford Treble Bob.

One of the significant reasons for ringing these methods is to ensure that dodging in 1-2 is crisp, and the rhythm is unbroken. This is good preparation for ringing the more difficult treble bob based methods.

Place notation elements 34X34 appears for most people when they wish to ring Kent T.B. Whilst the places are made backstroke-handstroke, there is no disruption to the natural coursing order; a little study of the spacings of pairs of bells is necessary, again to achieve crisp strking.

Multi approach

Use several different ways of learning a method

There are several ways to memorise methods, and the choice of technique relates both to the preferred style of the ringer as well as the complexity of the method. The options are explored more fully in Memory Skills for Learning Methods

DPB, Leads, Posts

Double Place Bells, Pivot Leads, Staging Posts

There are two points here:

  • Breaking the method down into smaller chunks.
  • Approaching a method in a manner that gives "safety points".

Double Place Bells

Tower bell ringers will be familiar with the concept of knowing what place they are in, inside the change-row, at the backstroke of the treble's lead. This becomes a major learning point when ringing touches incorporating several different methods.

With a pair of bells to ring, some classes of method lend themselves to using the double place bells as an aid to memory. Methods with lead end 156342, e.g. Cambridge Surprise Minor are the classic example, and the place bells sequence for 3-4 pair is 3-4, 4-5, 5-2, 2-6, 6-3, 3-4, with the related ease of memory from the almost perfect natural number sequence.

If you are planning to ring a more complex method, look at how the place bells fall to see if this will aid the memory

Pivot Leads

The vast majority of methods rung on handbells are symmetrical about the half lead. On handbells, if your pair of bells crosses over at the half lead, then the work of the pair reflects, i.e. can be thought of as running backwards from that half lead. Associated with this, each double line has a mirror image, e.g. in Cambridge S. 3-4 pair is a mirror image of 2-6.

Staging Posts

Ringing is "fragile" if a small trip disturbs the concentration of a ringer who then loses the plot and destroys the touch. We have all been there.

Ringing the more complex methods is mentally demanding, and it is helpful to have points in the ringing where a lttle less intense concentration is needed. Tower bell ringers will normally relax when ringing the pivot bell (e.g. 3rds Place Bell in Cambridge S.). When learning a complex method, look for "the easy bits", these are the Staging Posts that help you get ready for the harder parts.

Other bells

Awareness of Other bells


Knowing a method so well that you understand how the pieces of work for other bells is dovetailed into the work of your pair gives re-assurance, for example:

  • How the treble hunts between bells 5 and 6 in the 3rd lead of the Plain Course of PB Minor
  • How the slow bell in Kent TB relates to the treble dodging
  • How 2nds place bell in Cambridge S Minor works with 6ths place bell and in relation to the treble dodging in 3-4 up

Structured counting

Using method knowledge to enable more relaxed counting of multiple dodges, for example:

  • How the 3-pull dodge in 1-2 in St Clement's can be counted as a dodge for treble 4-5, a dodge for the half lead, and a dodge for the treble 5-4
  • How the 7-pull dodge in Westminster above can be counted by treble ringing 3-4 Down, hunt 3-2, 1-2 Down, Lead, 1-2 Up, 2-3, 3-4 Up
  • How Kent and Oxford Bobs (above 4ths) can be counted as a dodge for the method, a dodge for the bob, a dodge for the method.

The above are just a few of the many ways that awareness of other bells can be used. Also, the techniques can be extended to ringing on higher numbers of bells, and ringing parts of complex methods. A logical end-point is to be able to comprehend the method grid from the viewpoint of a handbells pair.

Coursing Order

Develop your use of Coursing Order

See coursing order in the Glossary for an introduction.

Every bell has a course bell and an after bell, in simple methods these bells stay close together, and that closeness can be used to help ring the method, especially at handbell speeds.

Coursing order can be used as a powerful means of developing awareness of other bells, and also can be helpful as a self-checking mechanism to ensure one's own bells are beng rung correctly.

Coursing order is present in all methods, and may be helpful to a greater or lesser degree. To that end, notes on coursing order are spread throughout this website, and are consolidated on one page at Coursing Order

Performance level can be achieved for many methods without the skill of using Coursing order. However, Coursing Order is fundamental to acieving mastery of a method and is a skill that handbell ringers should develop (along with the other execution skills), piece by piece, at every opportunity. As the number of bells being rung increases through Major, Royal and Maximus, so the number of bells ringing in a fixed coursing order relationship increases, thus contributing to the stability of the ringing.