Tag Archives: Methodology

How To Get The Best From The METHODOLOGY App



  • The audience for this document is approximately 15 members of the Association of Ringing Teachers, at the Annual Conference in March 2016.
  • Also, an independent learner starting from scratch.

Every Learner proceeds at their own speed

And in particular, people learning a hands-on IT-based skill will bring into the experience, markedly different levels of skill in IT and in the topics being learned using IT as a vehicle (in this case, method ringing and conducting). For this reason this seminar will not take the form of a lecture, it will be a hands-on experience of using Apps on your own phone to explore what they can do, and the opportunity to ask questions..  The instructions below can obviously be used by an independent learner as well, not in a group situation. If you need emergency help or something isn’t clear, please feel free to email the author! If you are in the position of helping someone lese to learn, the following golden rules may apply:

  • They will probably proceed more slowly than you expect. You are familiar with the screens, they are seeing them for the first time. For this reason, golden rule number one is Let the learner drive.  If you need to look at the screen to to decide what to do next, hand it back and let THEM click the next button!
  • Let them make notes. Anything they do from time to time will be difficult to remember. Notes can help.
  • Let them ask silly questions.  They have not yet got a conceptual grasp of the software they are just about to learn, so they will not sue the correct language!

When to use Methodology

  • Learning a plain course of your first method (including Plain Hunt, which Methodology calls “Original”)
  • Learning Bobs and Singles for a method
  • Learning to ring on Higher Numbers
  • Learning a more difficult method
  • Messing about with methods long before you can ring them.
  • Checking your start before you ring
  • “Sight reading” methods
  • When you have no internet and you are bored! The App works independently once it is downloaded.

If you have never downloaded an APP before…

You will need an Android phone, and a bank card. This is because Google Play (the “shop” where you can get the 2 ringing apps) needs your bank details the 1st time you use it. It will not cost you anything as both Apps are free to download.

play store imageYour phone already has a number of APPs loaded – a web brower, email and phone apps for example. Each one is represented by a small picture, you are looking for the PLAY STORE – you need to find and click this icon on your phone.

  • On your first visit, you will be asked for your bank details and asked to tick a number of “terms and conditions”

Step 1 – find the first App

screenshot_2016-03-09-09-51-58.jpgInside the Play Store the first screen will be a search screen, it looks like this image. You should click on APPS AND GAMES

Then in the top bar where it says “Google play”, type Methodology bell ringing.

Step 2 – Install Methodology and load Bob Doubles


methodology ready to downloadScreen 1 – Click methodology
screenshot_2016-03-09-09-59-39.jpgScreen 2 – Click INSTALL and ACCEPT the conditions. It will take a few seconds/minutes to download.
 screenshot_2016-03-09-10-05-40.jpgScreen 3 -Click OPEN and you will go to the initial HELP SCREEN with menu.
screenshot_2016-03-09-10-16-32.jpgScreen 4 – Help Screen With Menu

Touch the screen beside the menu to see the help screen as it really is helpful! After a preamble about the latest release, the next bit (scroll down).

The best advice is TRY TAPPING THE SCREEN – this always works and always calls up the menu at the top of the screen. Click the 3 stripes (“burger”) at the left hand end, and click SELECT METHOD.

screenshot_2016-03-09-10-25-25.jpgScreen 5 – My Methods

This is black because you have not yet loaded any methods from the  LIBRARY so that is what you need to click next…

screenshot_2016-03-09-10-27-08.jpgScreen 6 – the Library

This is showing all the 6 bell methods, so change it to 5 bells (top right of the screen) then start typing Plain Bob

screenshot_2016-03-09-10-32-35.jpgScreen 7 – found Plain Bob!

Click the HEART to put the method into your library. You don’t want to be faced with a black screen next time you select a 5 bell method! Then click the words Plain Bob and you will see the blue line!!! (Tah Dah)

At this point you probably need a coffee or some practice or both! Try loading some more 5 bell methods into your “MY METHODS” collection, and some 6 and 7 bell if you have time too. It is very useful to have all the methods you can “sort of ring” in your method collection to check starts on a practice night.
Occasionally you will see “Unfortunately Methodology Has Stopped”. It isn’t perfect! Just load it again and try again. 

Step 3 – The Blue Line for  Plain Bob Doubles

screenshot_2016-03-09-10-51-14.jpgIf you have taken a break your phone may have come out of Methodology. It may have been automatically installed as an icon on your home screen. Or you may have to look for it in your App Folder. They look different on different phones….

screenshot_2016-03-09-10-53-19.jpgNow when you go to SELECT METHOD and pick 5 bells, Plain Bob should be ready and waiting. Click the name to go to the Blue Line. Try:

  • Scrolling up and down
  • Pinching and swiping to zoom in and out
  • Turning the phone on its side to see the Landscape View of the method
  • screenshot_2016-03-09-10-58-26.jpgChanging the selected bell (tap the screen,  touch Line 2 and change to Line 3, etc.  Selecting 2 bells will put you in Handbell Mode.
  • Viewing the Bobs and Singles instead (tap the screen, hit the 3-lines burger menu, and ask for Bob/Single)
  • View extra changes on the Bobs and Singles (tap your phone’s menu button (mine is bottom right), and check Show Extra Changes
  • “Sight Reading” Methods in the tower – some musicians can use a blue line to ring a method before they have memorised it. This is very useful if you are needed to make up the final rope on a practice night. It is highly contentious if you ring with “traditional thinkers” who may react very critically – choose your moment! Most methods won’t fit on one screen so a proper A4 printout is better, but even on a phone the blue line is useful for the first couple of leads.

Step 4 – Choose how to “Ring” Plain Bob Doubles

You can “ring” in two ways, both are selected from the main top of the screen menu (Tap screen, tap 3-line icon on left hand end)

  • The Method Tutor is silent and so is ideal for using on buses, during practice night, or while you are supposed to be doing something else. It checks you are placing your bell in the right place in each row but is not concerned with timing.
  • The Method Player uses sound so is ideal for Auditory learners, and for checking your timing is good.

Both can be either plain courses, or have bobs and/or singles included. These are inserted by the software at random.

Step 5 – Learn Method Tutor (Silent Ringing)

screenshot_2016-03-09-11-04-30.jpgThe three control buttons at the bottom of the screen let you ring the next blow – if you choose the wrong one, nothing will happen but you will score a “mistake”. If you don;t want bobs and singles,tap the screen, choose the “3 dot” menu top right, and disable them.



screenshot_2016-03-09-11-05-04.jpgAfter a few down blows, and the odd bob and single, you have probably made some mistakes!  You can RESTART whenever you wish.

Remember how to change bell? (Tap Screen, Select Line 2, change to another line)


When Might Method Tutor be Useful? (Notes for Ringing Teachers)

  • This mode of Methodology is ideal for use during practice nights with learners who might otherwise have nothing to occupy them. The tutor keeps a record of your mistakes. This is much appreciated by young learners in our tower – I give them a challenge – Can you ring 300 changes with less than 10 mistakes?
  • If I sit out with them, it’s a great opportunity to use the correct terminology for each move “Make Places, Dodge, Make the Bob, Make Seconds, Run In”. Better than saying “left, left, right”, that’s for sure! Using terms like “Up” or “out” in the safe environment of a phone, gets them used to their meanings gently…
  • Younger children enjoy being given a method with no explanation and working it all out for themselves – they will patiently work through the options when a bob is called, and this gives a sense of achievement.
  • Older children (and adults) may enjoy spending a prolonged period working on a difficult method – One of our teenagers pretty much “taught himself” Stedman Doubles, Triples and Caters while he was still only ringing Call Changes in the real world! This is not the same as learning it “properly” but I believe it is worthwhile.
  • Mixing in this kind of learning with pencil and paper learning (see dot to dot grids for blue line practice) creates variety and also gives them something to take home with them.
  • Going ahead of yourself can work – I “rang” Stedman Doubles for 18 months on my phone before trying it out in the tower. It provided a secure basis.
  • Seeing your error rate reducing as you become confident with a method is really encouraging – it’s one of the ways I know I have learned a method, and it’s nice and objective!
  • Changing Bell lets you practice different starts repeatedly. Repeated learning is harder to arrange in the tower.

Step 6 – Learn Method Player (Ringing with Sounds)

screenshot_2016-03-09-12-00-36.jpgTap Screen, Left hand 3-bar menu, Method Player will get you to this screen. If you tap the “Play” button (triangle) you will hear a plain course of Plain Bob Doubles.

“your” bell sounds slightly louder than the others. The Blue line appears as the bells sound.

Um… headphones please, if in company!


screenshot_2016-03-09-12-01-04.jpgTap SETUP and choose INTERACTIVE MODE. You can also increase the number of plain courses if you want to at this stage, or activate Bobs and Singles.

This screen is also where you adjust the ringing speed and add cover bells and open handstrokes.

The option at the bottom takes you back to the method player.


screenshot_2016-03-09-12-01-32.jpgIn interactive more your selected bell appears at the bottom of the screen. To ring the bell, tap the dark blue rectangle. The pale blue “2” doesn’t do anything until you start to ring – then you will see feedback on your timing, the little bars indicating how early/late you are on each stroke. Of course you will HEAR if your timing is out as well.

If you want HANDBELL MODE, tap the screen and click Line 2, choosing instead Lines 1+2. The easiest way to “play” them is probably with your two thumbs.

screenshot_2016-03-09-12-13-43.jpgPart way through a plain course of Bob Doubles, showing the little “striking score” lines.


When Might Method Player be Useful? (Notes for Ringing Teachers)

  • Method Player is very much about listening and striking
  • Worth using with a learner who is a bit confused about striking, and you need to discuss “early” and “late”.
  • Very valuable using when stepping up to higher numbers. It is possible to “ring” with the phone in your pocket and headphones in, interactively. Thus a walk to the shops becomes a touch of Grandsire Caters. At this stage “method tutor” is less useful for plain methods as there is too much plain hunting!!!
  • Useful for all sorts of listening issues such as can you hear the treble leading? This skills is incredibly useful in Plain Bob and Grandsire on any number, as it is the cue for the dodges. Impossible therefore to get lost! (Useful for musicians, especially). I believe I developed this skill partly as a side-effect of using Method Player a lot.
  • Useful when learning a new method especially if you don’t look at the blue line – you are forced to really ring it from memory and every error will be painfully obvious!
  • Again for musicians, repeated use of method player may lead to a familiarity with the tune of a method. Personally I find this useful for knowing when to ring and it can also help me to put others right. Some changes can be big cues too – the reverse rounds in a plain course of Cambridge Major will tell you exactly where you are in the method for example.
  • Great for handbell practice when you can’t find other handbell ringers!!

Step 7 – program method player to ring rounds and simple exercises

Normally it plays just 4 rows of rounds then starts the method which is not a lot of use for a learner who just wants to practice sounding their “bell” in the right place in rounds. This is a workaround but it works!

tap screen to get main menu, left hand 3 bar menu, Select Method
screenshot_2016-03-09-12-58-12.jpgClick the Dotty icon beside Plain Bob and Click EDIT
roundsChange the name to ROUNDS. Then change the place notation to 12345  which is a description of rounds.

Then click save, and press your phone’s back button to get back to the method library. Then press Rounds, and select Method Player from the main menu.

screenshot_2016-03-09-12-01-04.jpgBecause the “method” is only one row long, you will need to go into SETUP and ask for the number of plain courses to be the maximum of 20. Together with the 4 before the method and 6 afterwards, that gives you 30 rows to practice striking perfectly in rounds.
screenshot_2016-03-09-12-51-26.jpgIf you edit ROUNDS and change the name to ONE TWO DODGE and change the place notation to 345, then save,  you can do some dodging practice.

Your imagination is the only limit here – can you program other exercises?

Enjoyed this post? You might enjoy: Using TOUCHLINE to learn bob calling

Using Computer and Phone software to improve your Method Ringing

AbelSim, Mabel, Mobel and Methodology can be used at any stage in the bellringer’s learning journey – this article describes their use for the new recruit, and for supporting learning at the more advanced stages of the Exercise.  Android, iPhone, Windows, iMac covered …

Unless otherwise attributed, the following views are my own, based on fairly extensive use of ringing methods on AbelSim and Methodology, and learning (but not teaching) my first dozen or so methods. The section on Mobel has been provided by Tim Davis. Contributions on Virtual Belfry and Ringbell have been kindly provided by Matthew Sorell and Gary Lauderdaleall  via the Facebook group “Bellringers”. Please use the reply box at the bottom of the page if you have more to add to this article.

Learning to Ring – an overview

The early stages of learning to ring Church Bells, are all about learning to handle a bell with confidence, so that the sound of the bell can be produced in a controlled and accurate manner. Once a learner can handle a bell confidently, they will progress to ringing Rounds (the bells all ringing in order, treble first, finishing with the tenor. The next stage is usually to learn Call Changes (The tune changes periodically, according to the instructions of the conductor), and then,  everywhere except the West Country, the learner is ready to venture into the world of Method ringing (where the bellringers follow a predefined composition and the conductor is responsible for calling the start, bobs and singles, and the return to rounds at the end). Down the line, the experienced bellringer progresses by learning to ring a greater repertoire of methods, and may choose to learn to conduct.

Learners often wish to dip into higher level skills that they can ring in the tower, There are excellent books availble from CCCBR (often there are several books available in your tower), and many bands own a set of handbells which the learners can use to get to grips with call changes and methods. A recommended book for beginners is The New Ringer’sBook (£9.50) There are also 3 simulator packages which you can use on your computer/phone.

AbelSim screen shot
AbelSim screen shot

AbelSim for Windows PC (£20)

Abel is the most well known of the simulators, and is used in many towers to enable one or more people to ring tied bells whilst the bell sounds are produced, inside the ringing chamber, by the computer.  Abel can be downloaded for £20 onto your Windows computer at home and you can “ring” by pressing a key each time you want your bell to sound. Abel has a comprehensive library of methods, and can also be programmed with new ones if you are experimenting with composing yourself. Obviously “ringing” a method using AbelSim at home is not the same as the real experience of ringing it in the tower, as you have taken out the need to control a heavy bell in order to produce the sound. However it can be a very useful additional learning tool for the aspiring method ringer, because you can put in as many hours’ practice as you like without having to find a team of willing ringers and a church tower! Motives for using AbelSim might include:

  • The new recruit can practice Rounds and then, when that is mastered, call changes, on AbelSim, in the same way as handbells may be used during a training session, to aid the understanding of the theory without having to handle a big bell.
  • The Tower you normally ring at only has six bells, and you want to learn an 8-bell method prior to visiting an 8-bell tower.
  • You can just about ring Plain Bob on the 2nd, and you want to learn to ring it on other bells.
  • You have mastered the Plain Course of a method you are learning, and you want to have a go at ringing it with the Bobs and Singles
  • You ring with a band who, collectively, have earmarked a method for the next practice, and you want to spend time practicing it in advance, in order to hit the ground running.
  • You want to listen to methods which are difficult to ring, to hear their music. (There is a rich variety of recordings of tower bells on YouTube too, which is well worth browsing!)
  • You enjoy sitting down at the computer and playing with methods, you can treat it like a game and get a score at the end!
  • There’s one part of a method that you know catches you out, and you want to be able to work on it intensively.
  • You want to get to grips with a particular touch of a method – Abel is pre-programmed with a variety of touches and you can also program your own
  • You want to try conducting a method (ie calling the bobs and singles yourself)
  • You want to compose your own method or series of call changes and see what it sounds like

At the time of writing, Abel can be downloaded for £20.  It is powerful, enjoyable and very robust bellringing tool with a well-thought-through user interface and a clear and comprehensive help system. If you like the sound of it but want to try it out first, why not ask an owner to bring their laptop to a practice and have a go (or better still, arrange to have a go between the “before” and “after” ringing at your next wedding! It can be used with headphones if you don’t want to disturb other people.

Mabel  for Mac

This is are from the AbelSim stable,  Mabel (for Mac) is equivalent to Abel for home use but does not interface with bells in the tower.

Mobel for iPhone and iPad (£5.99)

Tim Davis has contributed this extract from abelsim.co.uk : “Mobel lets you practise any method on 4 to 16 bells, ringing a single bell or, for handbell ringers, a pair. You can ring plain courses, or touches with bobs and/or singles that Mobel calls, or spliced. You can conduct touches of single methods, with bobs and/or singles. If you choose the Tower Bells option, Mobel displays pictures of sallies and tail ends, uses tower bell sound, and rings at tower bell speed. If you choose the Hand Bells option, Mobel displays pictures of handbells, uses handbell sound, and rings at handbell speed. You can select from over 17,000 methods, and can edit methods to create new ones, including Doubles Variations. You can vary the speed of the ringing, and ring with handstoke gap or cartwheeling. You can have Mobel wait for you if you hesitate while ringing a bell – or it can carry on in perfect rhythm. Optionally, Mobel will give you marks out of 10 for your striking.

Mobel can display the blue line for any method, showing all the rows or just the lines. Mobel shows the diagram for bobs and singles, if these are defined for the method. You can use pinch gestures to change the scale of the display, and swipe left and right if the picture is too big for the screen. With the Hand Bells option, Mobel displays the lines for both the bells you’d ring.” When I last spoke to the author, he thought Mobel was much the better option for learning methods, leaving Abel for use primarily when a simulator is connected to a tower bell (or dumbell).”

To read more about Mobel, visit abelsim.co.uk and click on Mobel News

Methodology for Android (Free)

Methodology is the simulator of choice (IMHO) if you want to use one on your Android phone. It is available for download free and is a useful and versatile tool. It has some of the features of AbelSim, and is invaluable when:

  • You have been asked to ring a method you are confident with, but you want to quickly check your start before you ring. A pre-printed method diagram (or blue line) puts the blue line onto a pre-chosen bell (often the 2) and is slightly harder to use if you want to start from another bell. Methodology lets you choose the blue line bell, and very helpfully also offers a “2nd bell” feature which sets up a pale blue line. This is invaluable if you want to see the interaction between yourself and your Course Bell, for instance.
  • The screen is clear enough that with reasonable eyesight you can put it on the floor and refer to it for a confident start. This may cause apolplexy among traditionalists but I personally would rather ring the start correctly than spoil the touch for everyone else just because I am still learning! You can’t fit the whole plain course on the screen 😦 but it’s a great boost at the beginning (or in the fiddly bit in the middle where you tend to get lost).
  • You want to stand behind a ringer during a difficult method – you can follow down the blue line as the method progresses, and this is a good way to engage with a method when you are learning it. Of course you could use the Diagrams book (which is in 99% of towers) but I can’t easily read that in dim light, as it uses rather small print. As soon as the first Bob or Single is called, your observed bell will probably shoot away in a different path and it is a challenging task to work out which section of the method they are now ringing!
  • You are discussing a method in the pub and have reached the point where hand-waving and verbal description of double dodges has begun to lose you because you need to SEE the blue line.
  • You have an idle moment and no signal – plenty to do without going online
  • Methodology silent ringing mode
    Methodology silent ringing mode

    You are aspiring to ring your first method – The transition from Plain Hunt to Plain Bob or Grandsire (or whichever is the first method of choice in your band) can be a struggle and it is very nice to be able to ring through it over and over again. On the screen pictured left (above if you are reading this article on a phone), the user is “ringing” Plain Bob by choosing left-arrow (ring my bell sooner on the next change), down-arrow (Make the same place) or Right-Arrow (ring my bell later on the next change). They have switched off the display of the bell numbers so all they have to work on is their own blue line and the black treble line. In the moment shown, a Single has just been called which they have navigated correctly. A score is kept at the top so you can get a sense that you are improving. You have as long as you like to make your mind up on each “move”.

  • Methodology also allows you to ring the method in real time and hear the bell sounds. (including hear the mistake you are making!). This option will only simulate a Plain Course. By using headphones, and having your phone in your pocket, you can be “ringing” a method when you are out and about, waiting for a bus, being a car passenger, etc etc.
  • Honesty compels me to report a bug – if you leave a simulation, use another program and return, it usually crashes very gracefully and you will have to start again. This, for a free package, is I think a forgivable error. The producer is aware of it.
methodology start screen
methodology start screen

Getting Started with Methodology

Methodology was the first App I downloaded when I bought my first Smart Phone, and it was easy (and free) to install. I then spent a bewildered half an hour trying to make something happen! Googling the problem reassured me that I wasn’t the only one, and that the struggle WAS well worth it (all the reviews are 4- or 5-star), and random button presses eventually revealed the library of methods and let me load Grandsire and start ringing. The Solution to the problem getting started with methodology is you need to know what button your particular phone regards as the menu button. On my HTC Desire it is the bottom right hand button, held down (just touching the same button does something completely different). This displays a menu in every application but at that time I wasn’t yet aware of it, and of course, because it varies from Android to Android, the software writers can’t give you instructions from inside the App. So the thing to Google if this happens to you, when you buy a new phone and download Methodology straight away, is to Google your particular handset to find out which is the menu button. Once you are looking at the menu screen, the package is very easy to understand and drive.

The Music of Change Ringing

Bellringers are all different and there are at least 6 ways of navigating yourself through a method as you ring, some of which are visual (looking at them movement of the other ropes), numerical (based on counting bells), cues from other bells (memorising who to follow, or coursing order) or auditory (based on hearing the position of the treble, or your place in the tune). Most ringers use a combination of several of the six, and may well vary their approach from method to method. If you make heavy use of one or more of these simulators, you can repeatedly hear the method perfectly rung (all of these packages offer a “sit back and listen” mode). You may well find, under these circumstances, that you start to recognise chunks of the music of the methods. Back in the real world, this familiarity with the tune can be enormously helpful if you get a little bit lost, but above and beyond that, it can start to engage you with the very real musical beauty of bellringing. Many methods, for example Grandsire, Stedman, and Yorkshire, are equisitely musical, and to be able to hear and appreciate that will very greatly enhance your enjoyment of practice nights, or hearing a band ringing when you are out and about. especially of 10- or 12-bell ringing when the music is present in its richest form.  Like any musical genre, your ear may need training to disentangle the beauty from the sounds. Simulators do this job very well.

Virtual Belfry

Matthew Sorell writes: You might also like to look at Virtual Belfry (http://belfryware.com/) which I use at the Adelaide Ringing Centre to demonstrate a wide range of bell characteristics, especially mechanics – it has lots of other great features too, complementing Abel on our dumbbells. We supply licensed copies of Abel to our ringers, and recommend either Mobel or Methodology. Currently we are experimenting with very low cost (AUD100 = GBP60 and under) android tablets as standard tower resources which can be borrowed by members without access to other computer/tablet/smartphone options.


(You will find other short YouTube videos on various pages of this website to help explain key features of the software.)
Ringbell (free)

Gary Lauderdale writes:  I like and use ringbell – it’s very good and allows you to ring using mouse clicks for each pull. my current copy allows you to ring on five to eight bells from minor to major.

Rosalind Martin writes There is a huge library of methods, so it can take a bit of learning to get going with it, but it is worth the effort. The printable blue line diagrams are really clear.

If you visit the Ringbell website you will find there are lots of free resources – more information here when it is availble!

Method Printer

Strictly speaking not a simulator, but well worth a mention here if you are keen to learn new methods. It will create a pdf or postscript file of your chosen method, and when you print it, you have a full A4, very clear to read, version of that method. Use on Windows or Mac, with a printer connected, or on hardware such as kindle just so you have a nice offline version of the method.

JBlueLineAE Free for 30 days then £12

Doug Davis (writing on Facebook) says:

Just managed to get JBlueLineAE installed on a Kindle Fire. You need to use the web browser to go to the below website, download the .apk file to your device and then install it manually. I used the FileManager app to do this.http://www.stmarkschelt.co.uk/JBlueLine/Android/install.php. Only thing to bear in mind is that this is a paid-for app, so after 30 days you’ll need to cough up £12 to carry on using it.

RM Oct 2013