Change-Ringing on Handbells (Volume 1: Basic Techniques)

Change-Ringing on Handbells (Volume 1: Basic Techniques)

The paperback edition (206 pages) can be ordered from Amazon for £25.50 in the UK and corresponding prices in other markets.
The Kindle edition is available from Amazon and the Kindle store for £8.99 in the UK and corresponding prices in other markets.

From the back cover:

Change-ringing is a form of traditional music based on sequences, permutations and patterns. It is most familiar to the public as the sound of church bells. Change-ringing can also be performed on handbells, where it becomes a contrast to the melodic music of handbell choirs.

This book guides readers through the elementary stages of change-ringing on handbells, from first principles to a standard repertoire. No previous experience of change-ringing is necessary.

The authors have been ringing handbells for over 30 years, and blog about their activities at They live in Glasgow, Scotland.

Praise from Graham John, author of Composition Library and Handbell Stadium

There have been no books dedicated to the subject of change-ringing on handbells for over three decades. For several years, Simon and Tina's blog has provided us with fascinating insights into the experiences of a progressive handbell band, sharing useful hints and tips along the way. Based upon this experience, they have written this comprehensive and up-to-date guide to ringing handbells from first principles through to Treble Bob Major. It is expertly written and illustrated, explaining everything you need to know to make progress, in easy steps. I am confident it will become a classic.

From a review in The Ringing World, by Bill Croft

Like a thoroughly experienced conductor, perfectly at home with the method and the composition, the authors of this volume guide the reader from the very basics of handbell ringing through to method ringing on eight bells. At every stage the reader is guided, sign-posted and encouraged, reaching a final ‘Congratulations!’ in the concluding chapter.

From a review in Tower Talk, by Janet Bond

I heartily recommend Change Ringing on Handbells, it’s a great book for all scenarios. It is clear and helpful without being at all patronising. Whatever your circumstances, it will provide you with the basics as well as the stepping stones toward definitive advancement in the world of handbell ringing.

From a review in The Clapper, by Kemp Brinson

Tina Stoecklin and Simon Gay have brilliantly filled [the absence of a modern, book-length textbook of handbell ringing] with their new tome, Change Ringing on Handbells Volume 1: Basic Techniques. Weighing in at a whopping 206 pages, unlike the King, Butler, and Woolley works, it leaves nothing out in guiding aspiring handbell ringers from rounds through Double Norwich, and every point in between.

Comments by Mary Jones in her blog "The Accidental Ringer"


  1. Introduction
  2. History and Background to Change-Ringing
  3. Finding Ringers and Bells
  4. Getting Started: Plain Hunting
  5. Continuing: Plain Bob
  6. Beyond the Plain Course: Bobs and Singles
  7. Ringing a Quarter Peal
  8. Plain Bob Major
  9. Beyond Plain Bob: Other Plain Minor Methods
  10. Other Plain Major Methods
  11. Treble Bob Minor
  12. Treble Bob Major
  13. Double Norwich Court Bob Major
  14. Conclusion

Sample page from the Plain Bob chapter

A Collection in Composition Library

All the methods and compositions in the book are gathered into a collection in Composition Library.

Errata and Updates


When the book was first published, the bibliography was missing the entry for Change Ringing by Wilfrid G. Wilson. Corrected on 3rd April 2020.

Index of Definitions

When the book was first published, the index of definitions was missing. Corrected on 4th April 2020.

Figures 4.1 and 4.2: Handbell grips

The captions of these figures were the wrong way round. Corrected on 6th April 2020.

Figure 8.8: Two quarter peals of Plain Bob Major based on extents of Plain Bob Minor.

The calling for the second quarter is shown as a 4-part with a single half way and end. It should be a 6-part with bobs at the end of alternate parts:

W M H  23456
- s    62435
s   *  32465
6 part, calling - at *
in parts 2, 4 and 6.

Corrected on 13th April 2020.

Figure 12.8: 1280 Spliced Treble Bob Major (Ilkeston Variation)

Not an error, but this composition might be a little difficult to read. Each line in the table contains a complete Ilkeston course, perhaps with some extra leads of Kent because of bobs. A line with just a bob at Home contains six leads, not one lead. Corrected on 13th April 2020.

Figure 13.8: 1280 Double Norwich Court Bob Major

The composition is false, and should be replaced by

1312 Double Norwich Court Bob Major

I V O H  23456
  -      63254
- -      35264
s   s    62534
  s      42536
6 s s    65234
s 2   -  23456
6 = --s--s
For handbells: 5-6 ring the 7-8 pattern
for all except 8 leads.

Corrected on 13th April 2020.

Index of Compositions

The index now includes all the compositions presented in the book, with page references. Updated on 13th April 2020.

Web links for methods and compositions in the Kindle edition

In the Kindle edition, the method diagrams and compositions now include links to Composition LibraryUpdated on 13th April 2020.

Running headers in the Kindle edition

In the Kindle edition the running headers (book and chapter titles) were missing. They are now present. Updated on 6th September 2020.

Chapter 5, section "Plain Bob Minor - the 3-4 pair"

At the bottom of p83 (paperback) / p71 (Kindle), the original text incorrectly stated:

"The 3-4 pair in Plain Bob Minor spends only one lead out of five in its natural hunting position. The other four leads are in the parted or 2-3 position."

This should be:

"The 3-4 pair in Plain Bob Minor spends only two lead out of five in its natural hunting position. The other three leads are in the parted or 2-3 position." Corrected on 6th September 2020.

Chapter 6, section "A touch of 108 changes — bob bob plain"

On p98 (paperback) / p86 (Kindle), below Figure 6.8, the description of the work of 3-4 in the last bullet point was not quite correct. Corrected on 6th September 2020.

Figure 9.4: Two leads of Reverse Bob Minor, with a single at the end of the first lead.

This figure shows a single made in 4th and 5th places, but the leads before and after the single are Plain Bob not Reverse Bob. Corrected on 6th September 2020.

Chapter 9, section "Splicing other plain methods"

On p144 (paperback) / p131 (Kindle), last bullet point, the 5 is said to be in 5th place; it should be the 6. Corrected on 6th September 2020.

Chapter 10, section "Gainsborough Little Bob Major"

On p150 (paperback) / p137 (Kindle) it is claimed that the quarter peal composition in Figure 10.4, for Little Bob Major, can be adapted to Gainsborough. This doesn't work, for two reasons. (1) The calling doesn't work for Gainsborough because W and M come in the opposite order to Little Bob. (2) Replacing the entire second half of the calling by bob, bob, single at home doesn't come round. For a quarter of Gainsborough, use the calling in Figure 10.6. Corrected on 6th September 2020.

Chapter 11, section "Touches of Kent or Oxford Minor"

On p173 (paperback) / p159 (Kindle), a two-course touch of Kent or Oxford is described as 120 changes. This should be 240 changes. Corrected on 6th September 2020.

Chapter 12, figure 12.5

The link to Composition Library in the Kindle edition is wrong, pointing to a non-existent composition. The correct reference is 72481. Not corrected yet.

Chapter 12, section "The Ilkeston variation"

On p179 (paperback) / p165 (Kindle), "changing the method back to Oxford" should be "changing the method back to Kent". Corrected on 6th September 2020.