Getting Started

It has been said that learning to ring is rather like learning to ride a bike; there are many different things to think about and, until you get them all right at the same time, you don’t succeed. Most people need quite a lot of practice before it all comes together.

SAFETY: Until you can ring unaided never catch hold of a rope unless your tutor has told you what to do and is standing with you. (You wouldn’t try to drive a car without having proper lessons!)… more (First Lessons Hand & Back).


The Learning Process

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Bell handling

Most change ringing is performed on tower bells. Therefore the first stage for a beginner is to learn how to handle a tower bell safely and with sufficient control to be able to adjust its speed and to start and stop it at will. An average person with a good tutor should be able to attain this level in a dozen or so individual 30-minute lessons, especially if these can be scheduled several times a week.

Ringing with others

Next you will need to learn how to ring with others, at a pace established by them. This will often begin by learning to follow your tutor or another ringer at a steady interval. If a simulator is available, you can learn to fit in with the simulated sounds of the other bells, thus developing valuable listening skills. You will also start to join in with other ringers during the weekly practice night at your tower, and the first milestone in this stage will be when you first join in the ringing of “rounds” unassisted.

Call changes

The next stage beyond ringing rounds is usually to learn to ring call changes, in which the conductor calls different pairs of bells to exchange places in the sequence of striking. Although many ringers regard call-change ringing merely as a way-station in their progress to method ringing, well-struck call changes are perfectly acceptable for Sunday service ringing, and are preferable by far to poorly-struck method ringing. To many ringers in Devon and Cornwall, call changes are an end in themselves and are performed with great proficiency honed by frequent striking competitions.

Method ringing

Method ringing requires each ringer to memorise and practice patterns of successive changes in sequence, without the need for the conductor to call individual changes. Methods vary enormously in complexity, providing additional challenges for ringers of all levels of proficiency. Usually you will start to learn and practice simple methods together with call changes during the weekly practice evening at your home tower. In addition you may be able to attend suitable courses run either by your diocesan or county ringing society, perhaps at a Ringing Centre; or run by the Education Committee of the Central Council or by other ringing and educational organisations.