More About HRGB

The roots of handbell tune ringing are inextricably entwined with those of Church tower ‘change’ ringing, which is itself often practiced on handbells! However, each has evolved through the years and continue to develop along different lines. 

Traditionally when ringing peals on handbells, they are allowed to ring on in the same way that church bells ring on.  In music, however, each note has a beginning and an end – a note value which will vary in length. In musical terms it’s just as important to stop a bell ringing (to 'damp' it) as it is to strike it correctly – in the same way that a piano player uses pedals to sustain or shorten notes.  So the distinction between handbell peal and tune ringers is often described by the former being a “handbell ringer” and the latter a “musician ringing handbells”.

In the same way that there is a right way to ring a church bell or play a violin, we aim to show handbell ringers the pleasure, art and skill of ringing handbells musically.

“But I can’t read music” is a cry we often hear. This is seldom an insurmountable problem; many teams still use numbers, letters or diagrammatic notation, either from a central score or with each ringer having a copy.

We don’t want to be exclusive or snobbish about it and we will always welcome members of handbell teams, whatever style or notation they use. There is no doubt that staff notation is generally favoured (simply because it is a standard ‘code’) and most handbell music is written in that way – but we find that non-music readers can soon pick it up (often with the aid of coloured circles around their notes) because they only have to spot their own notes.

Another difference between the tower and handbell worlds is that HRGB does not encourage competition; the emphasis instead being on cooperation and enjoyment. Of course some teams do compete – in local music festivals for example – and we don’t have a problem with this. 

Our core values include inclusiveness, engagement with the community, being open, transparent and welcoming - as well as the essential musicianship, inspiration and education of the next generation of ringers. And, of course, encouraging fun and enjoyment