ART Abel YouTube videos - a review

ART has produced six short YouTube videos to help you get the most out of Abel. You can use these to discover how you can use Abel to study and improve in the comfort of your home. Abel is a programme for your PC which allows you to simulate aspects of tower ringing. There are also versions for tablets and smart phones. It costs £20.00 at

Who will benefit from these videos?

  • Newly recruited ringers who would like to continue developing some ringing skills
  • Improving novice ringers who would like to practise and improve some ringing skills
  • Ringers who have never used Abel before.

Why use these videos?

  • Currently you can’t ring the tower bells
  • You can bring Abel’s virtual bells into your home!
  • Learning to use Abel could help you take part in a virtual practice night with others using Ringing Room.

Introduction to the videos

The directions and on­-screen demonstrations are extremely clear and the pace is suitable for beginners. The aim is to support your use of the Abel ringing simulator. The narrator relates the skills practised on Abel to tower ringing where applicable. I found the most practical way to use the ART video tutorials was to have them running on my tablet at the same time as having Abel open on my PC. It’s useful to watch the series, but each one gives an explanation of its individual topic.

Some of the simulator skills are transferable and will help when tower ringing is resumed, but ideally both should be practised together.

Video 1: Getting Started Using Abel

This video provides an introduction to Abel for beginners which explains how to select the screen view and learning exercises.

  • There is an option to have moving ringers on your screen which might seem good but choose ‘HDRW Sallies’ as directed because the aim is to practise listening skills with minimal visual distraction. The narrator demonstrates how to choose this option.
  • Adjusting the peal time is important. The higher the peal speed the more time you will have to take part in the activity. You can reduce it as you improve.

Video 2: How Accurate is my Striking?

This video shows you how to use Abel to get feedback and keep a record of the accuracy of your striking on the simulator over time.

  • Halfway through the video plays rounds and shows the red, amber, green chart in the bottom right corner. This is a useful audio-visual demonstration of how Abel grades your striking. It is also an opportunity to listen to accurate striking without having to control a bell.
  • Abel’s accuracy is spot­-on which can be daunting for a human ringer!
  • Like the narrator says, your striking will be variable, but will improve with practice.
  • Practice sessions are a bit like practice nights some go well, others less so. But all are worthwhile.
  • Don’t forget what the narrator says, many ringers can’t detect an error of 10% of the gap between adjacent bells.

Video 3: Help, I Can’t Hear my Bell!

This video clearly explains how you can use Abel to practise listening skills. This is particularly useful to train beginners’ listening skills without having to concentrate on bell control at the same time. There are three parts.

Part 1: Listening for the bell you are ringing as part of a band

  • You are shown how to use the programme with simple activities using a small number of bells ringing at a ringing speed you are comfortable with.
  • You can also adjust the pitch of the bells if necessary.
  • As your listening skills increase you can introduce more bells, choose the bell you want to ring and adjust the speed.
  • The narrator explains how to take part in ringing (as in video 1 and notes above).

Part 2: The open hand-stroke lead

  • This is explained as a rhythm.
  • A useful hand clapping activity is suggested to introduce and consolidate the rhythm.
  • Practising this on the simulator shows that it is not always easy to achieve but will help when ringing in the tower.

Part 3: Counting your place

  • Explains a technique to count your place.
  • And use your sense of listening to rhythm to identify irregularities in ringing.

Video 4: Call Changes

This video gives a straightforward explanation of what is involved in call changes and provides a step­ by­ step guide on how to set up/edit Abel to practise call changes.

  • It explains the jargon involved supported by a diagram.
  • It describes what happens in call changes – including the three different ways they can be called – focusing on calling ‘up’ (towards the back).
  • It explains how to operate Abel to allow you to practise Call Changes including an example of how to progress from rounds to Queens.
  • You are shown how to use Abel’s pre­-programmed call change programmes, including how to modify them to make them easier if you are a beginner.
  • Four key principles to concentrate on are given – with a useful example.
  • And, most importantly, supportive practical suggestions are made to aid improvement over time.

Video 5: Covering by Listening

This video is a good one to link with video 3. It describes how to extend your listening skills to ring the cover bell to a method.

  • You are shown how to set Abel to ring the tenor for Cloister Doubles.
  • Given guidance on how to count places to 6th, rhythmically taking account of the handstroke gap.
  • Once the method starts just keep your counting rhythm and your bell should be in 6th place each time.
  • In addition to your listening skills the coloured indicators under your bell rope will show how how accurate your rhythm and timing are.
  • Don’t forget to slow down the peal time if you need to and then increase it as your skill develops.
  • You are shown how to select longer methods for more practice.
  • And reminded that Abel’s automatic ringers have perfect rhythm that doesn’t always exist in a tower. But the purpose is to develop your rhythm and listening.

Video 6: Covering by Watching ­- Understanding Ropesight

This video explains how to set up Abel to show the ‘Moving Ringers’ view. All the other videos have used the ‘Sallies’ view which is relevant to their content. If your version of Abel does not have the ‘Moving Ringers’ view you can update it via the Abel website.

Activities are mainly observation only to build up your skill. This is really important. Keep at it. Then you take an active part later in the video.

  • Rhythm and listening are the key elements of good ringing. Watching and ropesight provide additional visual confirmation that your sense of rhythm is correct.
  • Individual learning styles can include varying combinations of auditory, visual and motor skills, therefore, one of these modes may support others to develop the key elements.
  • You are guided through observation activities to spot the order of handstrokes only first, then backstrokes only, then both hand and backstrokes together on four ropes.
  • At this stage you only have to watch – not take part. So all your concentration can be given to that part of the activity. If the ropes move too fast for you to spot the order slow the peal time down as the narrator suggests. Keep watching it will come.
  • Next is another observation activity. There are now six ropes on the screen and you need to look for the bell which is in 5th place each time – either 3, 4 or 5.
  • You watch for handstrokes only (sallies) first and are told the order to look for them in and they are labelled on screen.
  • I repeated this several times! Slow the peal speed down if you need to then speed it up gradually.
  • Then you watch for backstrokes only, then both strokes together, set the peal speed to one that makes the activity achievable for you then gradually speed it up.
  • Make sure you have the blue line chart showing on the right of your screen as it does in the video tutorials. If it’s not showing go to ‘View’ and click on ‘blue line’.
  • Having the blue line on enables you to pause the video (using the pause symbol on the toolbar) to periodically check if your observation of ropesight is accurate.
  • Now you are shown how to take part covering Cloister Doubles.
  • When you are ready the narrator suggests covering while watching five bells on Grandsire Doubles and how to extend your skills as you improve sense of listening to rhythm to identify irregularities in ringing.

"I have found the series very helpful indeed re how to use Abel and to improve practice at this time. I have a simulator in a barn at home, but it wouldn't have had as much use as it has without these videos. My husband said:

'You spend as much time up there as when you kept horses!' "

Lucy Naish

Link to the YouTube playlist

Links to the individual videos:

Video 1

Video 2

Video 3

Video 4

Video 5

Video 6