Getting Started on 10

For a while now we've had two regular but separate handbell bands at 1 Albany Quadrant: our original 8-bell band with Jonathan and Angela, and our more recent 6-bell band with Josy. We also practise with our son Thomas whenever we can.


We've been thinking about how to arrange more 8- and 10-bell ringing for Josy (and more regular 10-bell practice for all of us), without abandoning our general strategy of usually going for a quarter at the beginning of a session.

The plan we've settled on is to move to a system of alternate weeks. One week we'll have everyone together and ring on 8 and 10, and the other week we'll have a 6-bell evening and an 8-bell evening. Thomas is also looking forward to trying some 12-bell ringing. Inevitably there will be variations when one or other of us is unavailable, but that's the plan. It's supposed to start tomorrow with a 10-bell evening.

Josy hasn't done much on 10 before, and although the rest of us have rung various things up to Surprise Royal, I think we'll all benefit from working on our 10-bell speed and rhythm. So what are we going to ring? I'm thinking about starting by ringing Bob Minor on the front 6 while the back bells cover or perhaps plain hunt; the idea would be to practise a good 10-bell rhythm without having to find our way through the whole change. After that, here's a selection of rule-based methods to try.

  • Plain Bob, although I think that methods based on treble bob hunting might be more stable to begin with.
  • Little Bob, which is mainly treble bob hunting. Plain and Little Bob spliced is also fun.
  • Bastow Little Bob, which is good practice for Kent and Oxford Treble Bob; it's treble bob hunting except on the front.
  • Kent Little Bob, which gives intensive practice of Kent places.
  • Forward, which is not often rung these days (although there were some early tower-bell peals of Forward Maximus). It's a principle in which everyone treble bob hunts but always does Kent places in 3-4, so it should also be good practice for Kent.
  • Kent and Oxford Treble Bob.
  • Albion Little Treble Bob, in which the treble goes to 4th place and there are double Kent places in 5-6 (a little tricky!). There hasn't been a peal of it on handbells, so there's a challenge for someone.
  • Xanthe Little Treble Bob, in which the treble goes to 2nd place; it's what you get from Oxford Treble Bob by omitting all the changes with the treble above 2nd place. Actually only the Maximus version has been named.
  • Gonville Little Treble Bob is similar but based on Kent, with double Kent places in 3-4. Again, only the Maximus version has been named.

That should keep us going for a while, until we feel like trying rule-based Surprise Royal methods such as Bourne, Norwich and Westminster. Eventually York should be good for practising wrong hunting in a rule-based context.


I didn't mention Gainsborough Little Bob, in which the treble plain hunts to 6th place. It's probably a very good exercise in observing the treble's position, but at the moment I'm more inclined to work on treble-bob-based methods.

Probably it will take a bit of practice before we feel up to going for a 10-bell quarter, but after a while we should always have a 10-bell quarter project on the go, just as we do on 8 at the moment.

We'll report on progress in due course.


I used to find keeping the rhythm on 10 (and more) much more difficult than on 8... something which has become easier only with practice.

I still do! The leap from 8

I still do! The leap from 8 to 10 is quite a big one (true in tower as well). There's less wiggle room in the spacing between bells. I have found that having someone very definite on the tenors (and preferably 7-8 as well) helps keep a rhythm. But there is no substitute for doing it over and over again.