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Level 1 - Bell Handling & Control


Level 1 is aimed at ensuring a new ringer has a strong basic technique. This is important, not only for safety reasons, but in order to facilitate the future progress of the ringer.


Recent Achievers

Amanda Hutcherson
Harry Roberts
Mosella Curtis

Developing your technique

The first stage in learning to ring is to develop the skills to 'handle' the bell. That means the technique to control the bell using the rope. This is done on a one-to-one basis with your teacher and is often done on a silenced bell. For best results this stage is best carried out intensively over a short period. It can take 7 to 15 hours – possibly more. It is usually dependent on your age!

In some areas this is accomplished in a couple of days or others several sessions over a few weeks. As with other skills it takes a lot of practice at first.

You will usually taught each the small movements separately and then helped to put them together. The skill is all about controlling the rope and keeping tension, moving with it and catching the rope at the right place and time.

From your first lesson, Learning the Ropes builds fundamental bell handling skills including:

  • An introduction to the bells
  • Understanding ringing safety
  • Skills for backstroke and handstroke (the two physical actions in ringing)
  • Combing the backstroke and handstroke to ring independently
  • Safely ‘standing’ a bell into it’s rest position
  • Ringing up/down (safely swinging the bell to rotate 360 degrees for ringing and also returning it to a stationary state)

Once you can ring a single bell independently, the Teacher will move on to improving bell control through ringing with others and teaching how to adjust the speed of ringing.

Information for Teachers

Level 1 is often carried out on a tied/silenced bell where possible, with exercises are designed to build skills for the backstroke and handstroke and their integration. Ringers should be supported by theory material on parts of a bell and the function of a stay. Safety considerations should be identified to understand how to avoid the dangers of a bell when up, can cope with problems such as a missed sally catch and know how to act in the belfry.

Again on tied bells, where possible, lessons include ringing rounds, holding the bell on the balance, practice at adjusting rope length and speed and activities such as basic kaleidoscope. Earlier skills such as handling should be reinforced through solo practice. Ringers should be challenged where possible, using techniques such as more developed kaleidoscope combinations and call changes.

Theoretically, Ringers should develop an understanding of the difference between set and on the balance, including a practical knowledge, and the influence of the weight of the rope whilst ringing. Listening skills should be developed by practical sessions counting the number ringing, the use of handbells and simulators where available and activities such as a ‘setting game’.