south weald bell ringing
South Weald Surprise MinorLearning to Ring at St Peter’s

Learning to ring can be a lifelong experience. There is always something new to master. Progress can be as fast or as slow as you are comfortable with. This section should give you a feel for how we tend to teach learners at St Peter’s. Everyone learns differently and at different rates but there are various stages that most ringers go through.

Learning to handle a bell

The first stage is learning to handle a bell. We would usually start with hands on practice sessions, separate from the band’s main practice. For the first couple of sessions the bell will be silenced and you will learn to handle the bell safely under close supervision from your tutor. When you can handle the bell safely, there will be further exercises to teach you how to control the bell, to make it ring faster or slower. At this point you will be ringing on open bells (the bell will be making a sound) and you will be ready to join the main band. This point is usually reached after four or five sessions.

Learning to ring with others

Once you've learnt to handle the bell sufficiently most of your training will be in general practice on a Monday night with the rest of the band. The whole band, including you, will have things they want to achieve so the time in practices is shared out by the Tower Captain, with each piece of ringing intended to benefit different people. We are a supportive and relaxed bunch at St Peter’s and a lot of a ringer's time is spent ringing things to help a fellow ringer. The first thing you will learn to ring with the band is Rounds which involves ringing the bells in order from the highest in pitch to the lowest. It needs the development of listening and handling skills to enable you to “place” your bell accurately in relation to the one sounding before it. The ringing of rounds is an important stage to master, as it is the basis of all-subsequent ringing. Once you can ring rounds reasonably well you will be invited to ring on a Sunday morning for our Family Communion service.

Learning to ring Call Changes

At St Peter’s the stage after ringing rounds is to learn to ring call changes (sometimes known as “called changes”), in which the conductor calls different pairs of bells to exchange places in the sequence of striking. In a minority of towers learners progress slightly differently using a technique called “kaleidoscope ringing”. However, learning to ring call changes gives good practice in bell handling and listening skills and it gives variety to Sunday service ringing for the beginner. To many ringers in Devon and Cornwall, call changes are an end in themselves and are performed with great proficiency and excellent accuracy.

Learning method ringing

In call changes the ringer will change when the bells ring according to instructions given by the conductor every time a change is required.  Alternatively, the changes can be made to a pre-set pattern or "method", and each ringer must learn that method in order to know when a particular bell must sound in each row, without the need for the conductor to call individual changes. This is known as method ringing. Methods vary enormously in complexity, providing additional challenges for ringers of all levels of proficiency. At St. Peter's a learner will start to learn to ring the treble to simple methods such as Plain Bob Doubles or Grandsire Triples. As progress is made you will learn to ring an "inside bell" and to make bobs and singles to ring a "touch".  This is just the start and more methods can be learnt and we ring a very wide variety of methods at St Peters including the complex Surprise Major methods. 

And More!

Your skill as a ringer can be enhanced by ringing in different towers, gaining experience on different bells and with different ringers.  Once you can handle a bell safely most towers will be very welcoming and you could ring every day of the week if that is what you want to do! 


There are also many other things to learn if you wish, from conducting to bell maintenance and even composing.  Once you start learning you could be easily hooked on a wide ranging and very sociable hobby.  If you would like to know more please come to our practice nights or contact us through our contacts pages.