Handbell ringing

Handbell ringing has become a lot more popular during the pandemic both online and in people's gardens and we're now seeing ringers who've learned in the Summer starting to teach new bands. And that's just method ringing. Don't forget the joys of tune ringing – there's a place for both.

Learning to ring methods on handbells

A barrier to learning to ring handbells is to find a band to ring with and teach you. At the moment with so much online ringing this is less of a problem as you can now ring with anyone, anywhere, from the comfort of your sitting room. Join the Ringing Room Take Hold Lounge Facebook Group or join one of the Friday evening Handbell Stadium Open Practices and ask for some basic tuition. ART is also offering a match-making service with some experienced handbell teachers and ringers, so please get in contact if you wish to avail yourself of this offer.

Learning to ring handbells requires the learning of theory and individual practice. It's the rare learner who can just turn up and ring without this. Why not have a look at the following resources:

» Handbell resources starting from scratch

» YouTube videos taking you from how to handle a bell to ringing Plain Bob Minor

Teaching methods on handbells

People who never considered themselves handbell experts have suddenly found themselves teaching others, working hard to keep themselves one step in front of the rest of the band. It seems that frequent (three or more times a week) short practices are best with people going away and working out where they went wrong and how to put themselves right in-between sessions. The Aspinall sisters went from nothing to a family quarter peal of Plain Bob Minor with little outside help in less than six months. They even didn't count the first quarter peal because it wasn't good enough!

The handbell resources are aimed at those learning to ring handbells, so make sure you give the link to your learners, and importantly they are augmented with pages targeted at those who are teaching.

If you need some occasional extra help (conducting a quarter peal or taking the step into higher numbers of treble bob) then please contact ART and we will see if we can get you some help.

» Handbell resources for teachers

Ringing handbells online

All the online ringing platforms support handbell ringing. If you're starting with Ringing Room and Ding then you can use two keys on the keyboard. Many handbell quarter peals have been rung this way since the start of the pandemic and as you're not geographically constrained in the virtual world you don't have to know local handbell ringers to ring them. A more realistic action and differentiation between handstroke and backstroke can be achieved by using motion controllers or eBells.

Handbell Stadium is the ringing platform specifically designed to simulate handbell ringing and is used by or beginners or pros alike. You need to use motion controllers or eBells to ring on Handbell Stadium.

Ringing tunes on handbells

Tune ringing attracts many people who have never rung tower bells and never will. A set of bells are seen, together, as a musical instrument on which the ringers perform. Large bell orchestras with 40 or more participants and over 100 gleaming bells can produce an amazing performance, utilising different techniques (ringing in-hand, off the table, with mallets) to produce different sounds, ringing from the same staff notation as any other instrument. At the other end of the tune ringing spectrum is the tower-bell band who dust off the old box of ten or maybe a dozen handbells from the cupboard in the ringing chamber and go out at Christmas, around the pubs or care-homes. This would probably involve ringing by numbers, with some basic but clunky harmonies. Why not give it a go and have some fun.

» Handbell ringers of Great Britain

What do ringers say?

An invitation to Ringing Room

Meet Brian and Barbara, two Moresby ringers who have been using Ringing Room to try handbell ringing. They are learning lots and can’t wait to see how it impacts on tower bell ringing when the time comes!

Ringing handbells – tunes or methods?

Phil Tremain discusses ringing methods and tunes on handbells and sees good in both. He ends by musing that 'Maybe there’s a place for ‘God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen’ at the College Youths’ dinner in the future!'

How to impress your friends

Lesley Boyle reconnects with her childhood tune ringing to give a very special gift to a friend. She recommends that you give ringing handbell tunes a go. It was ages since I’d done it and I’d forgotten what fun it was. If you can get hold of a set of bells, try some tunes with each person in your family ringing one in each hand.