Group name - Hull Handbell Change Ringers

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  Development: Ringing - Overview


What is handbell ringing

Question: What is handbell ringing?
Answer: A unique teamwork exercise culminating in an intricate sequence of sounds.

When ringing takes place, each member of the team has two of the available notes typically between 6 and 12, but occasionally only 4 notes, or up to 24 notes, of a diatonic scale. Each ringer has memorised a pattern, known as a bellringing method. Using that memorised pattern each ringer skilfully strikes his or her bell notes in the correct sequence amongst all of the other notes.

The memorised patterns are called methods. Methods need some background knowledge to make them meaningful, otherwise they appear very abstract and meaningless.

Taking some concepts together with a memorised pattern, and skilfully using visual and auditory feedback to create an intricate sound is the heart of bellringing. The amount of knowledge, the memory techniques, the complexity of the methods, and the numbers of bells may all vary, but the process is consistent.

What to aim for:

This site focuses mainly on two method ringing goals. For the complete beginner, ringing Plain Bob Minor is the immediate goal.
For a Plain Bob Minor ringer, London Surprise Minor is suggested as the next goal.

Why Plain Bob and London?

Plain Bob Minor embraces all the essential skills of knowledge, memory, teamwork, and feedback. As an even number of bells the skill level is greater than an odd number, and it forms the basis for a number of progressive methods. Ringing double handed Plain Bob Minor, competently, is enjoyable for its own sake, and a respectable achievement.

London Surprise Minor has hunting that requires backward places to be made, and as a consequence is significantly more demanding than the right place methods.

London Surprise Minor does not have to be the goal to follow Plain Bob, indeed even if it is the goal there will be a number of intermediate steps before London is rung. From Plain Bob Minor a ringer could choose to ring more bells, Major, Royal, etc., or some of the more challenging right place methods, or Stedman for example.

Whatever is your current learning point, the essence of relevant concepts, memorised method, ringing skill and teamwork, enables your achievement at that level. For the methods documented on this site, the concepts, the information to memorise, and the specific skill requirements, are all stated.


No-one sets out to become a poor bell ringer, that is a person who cannot fit in to the rhythm set by the team. Getting the rhythm on handbell is an even greater challenge than it is on towerbells, so we have included extra notes on how to improve striking on handbells. The notes are included with the use of the simulator.

Do browse the Glossary of Terms before diving in.

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