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Most people have seen tunes rung on handbells, and most people know that changeringing, as performed on tower bells, is very different from normal music. Most people don’t know that changeringing is also regularly performed on handbells (about 15% of the peals rung every year are ‘in hand’ and not in a tower). The reason is that the most of it is done in private. Only occasionally is changeringing in hand performed in public. There was a performance during the fund raising concert at All Saints in 2001, and we rang handbells for some weddings while the bells were out during 2004.
Ringing a handbell is easier than ringing a tower bell, but each ringer has a bell in each hand, so although it needs less physical skill, the mental task of knowing what two separate bells are doing all the time is much more demanding.
Many ringers try ringing in hand at some time, maybe while at college, but many of them don’t take it up as a regular activity. Over half of our ringers at All Saints have some experience of handbell ringing, but only two of us ring regularly (with a group loosely based around Reading). Three of St Paul’s ringers also ring handbells regularly, and we’ve recently rung three ‘all Wokingham’ quarter peals of Plain Bob Royal (ten bells, five ringers).
Just before Easter, we gathered with over 30 other ringers from around the Diocese for the annual Handbell Day. Of the 36 quarter peals attempted (6 one hour slots x six rooms) 23 were successful – more in the morning than the afternoon, probably because we were fresher.
John Harrison (May 2012)
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