All about leading

When a bell is ringing in the first place of a change it is said to be leading. It is not following a bell in the same way as the other bells are and striking it will require practice.

The rhythm of rounds

The gaps between the bells should all sound even except for the handstroke lead. When ringing, the backstroke change follows on immediately after the handstroke change. However before the treble leads again at handstroke there is a gap or space of one blow. This is known as the handstroke gap or lead.

» Listen to rounds with a full handstroke gap

» Listen to rounds with no handstroke gap

This short video on the right demonstrates and discusses the various skills required to ring rounds successfully.

The bell that is leading cannot look at and follow the bell in front of it in the change. Instead it must lead by following the last rope to come down on the opposite stroke. When leading at handstroke the bell follows the backstroke of the last rope down and when leading at backstroke the bell follows the handstroke of the last rope down. To start with your teacher will usually ensure that this is the tenor.

You can learn about leading from watching and listening to the treble in rounds:

  • Stand behind the treble.
  • Watch how it follows the tenor at the opposite stroke.
  • Listen to the open handstroke gap.

You can also try ringing hand bells or clapping the rhythm. A word or an action may give you the idea of the one beat pause. Here the word sniff is used!

The rhythm of leading

Supporting Resources

This short video demonstrates and discusses the various skills required to ring rounds successfully.

Fast forward to 4:52 and you’ll find some slow motion videos of ringers and bells leading which are especially informative.

Read more about leading and how to get it right