• Peter Sotheran
    54
    Some readers may remember that a few years ago there was a concerted effort made to have ringing recognised as a sport in order to try to access grants from Sport England (or some such). The clear answer was a firm 'no'; ringing was not defined as a sport. Since we operate what are generally the largest percussion instruments in daily use, should we not be comparing training costs with the cost of learning any other musical instrument?
  • John de Overa
    238
    From the 2022 Meeting Papers:

    Strategic Priorities 2020 and beyond

    2. That no ringer should hit a barrier to their own progression

    If a ringer wants to progress, they should always be able to find a pathway that helps them, although it will probably not just be at their own tower.

    So, 2 years on (yes, COVID, I know) and still a dismal U grade?
  • John Harrison
    184
    few years ago there was a concerted effort made to have ringing recognised as a sport in order to try to access grants from Sport England (or some such). The clear answer was a firm 'no'; ringing was not defined as a sport.Peter Sotheran

    That's an over simplification. The biggest objection came from within the CC from those who didn't want to scare the horses (the CofE) by suggesting ringing was anything other than a call to worship. (And if the story ever gets written that related to CC reform like the assassination of Arch Duke Ferdinand did to WW1)
    If you read the official European definition of a sport (which Port England uses) you will see that ringing ticks virtually every box. We would have needed an anti doping policy, but that's not hard (I wrote a draft version).
    The biggest problem was internal, as it is when trying to doing anything different in ringing. Ringers argue with each other and leaders give up in preference to upsetting anyone.
  • Peter Sotheran
    54
    Fair point John but I still maintain that ringing is more akin to music making than a sport.
  • John Harrison
    184
    can't it be both? Ringing has many facets, and shares features with both sports and musical performance.
    I think ringing would be better if more ringers considered themselves performers, but the match is far from perfect. For example it's quite hard to map ringing onto the assessment structure used for conventional musical instruments.
    If you are interested see: https://jaharrison.me.uk/Ringing/Music/
  • Roger Booth
    37
    I think it's unrealistic to expect the keen learners who go on courses to go back and change the culture of their towers - believe me, I tried. I'm not saying it never happens, but as a way of fixing ringing's current problems, I think it's a non-starter.John de Overa

    I disagree. We need to spread good practice. It will be a slow process, but over time the techniques will find their way back into use in towers, even if this is when 'old Fred' retires and someone who knows about other ways of teaching takes up the reins. Just look at how gradually over the last ten years ART's foundation skills techniques are starting to become mainstream.

    Since June I've been holding regular foundation skills practices on a Monday afternoon every 2 - 3 weeks. Quite a few learners from other towers in my District are finding out about these improvers practices. There are now about 30 people who have taken part in one or more of them, and it's becoming difficult to cope with their popularity. More attend them than the traditional District practices. I've had some very positive feedback from those that come, as they welcome a fresh approach to their struggles, and I am sure that they are taking the exercises back to their own towers. In fact, following a taster session held at one of these towers on Saturday morning, I've now got three tower captains/teachers from these other towers who want to go on ART M1 and M2 courses to learn more about the techniques.

    Once we've got the teaching of bell-handling and foundation skills embedded, we can then concentrate on the teaching of method ringing.
  • Peter Sotheran
    54
    "can't it be both? Ringing has many facets, and shares features with both sports and musical performance."
    It can be almost whatever you want it to be. Just because there are bell ringing competitions doesn't make it a sport. I doubt we will ever see sporting competitions for pianists and violinists! So going back to my original point, it is probably better, when discussing the cost of training people to ring, to liken the costs to those of musicians.
  • John de Overa
    238
    I disagreeRoger Booth

    Yes, I half expected you would. A fresh learner who is still in awe of the existing ringers in their home tower is simply not going to go back and start telling them how things should be done, and if they try they'll either be ignored, or shoved out. And we don't have until 'Old Fred' retires, let alone 10 years. We have 6 months to engage learners, tops, after that most of them will at best get stuck ringing poor CCs in a poor band or worse, just give up. Which they are doing.

    I'm not doubting for one minute you are getting the results you describe but it appears there's a huge amount of confirmation bias going on. Claiming that what works for you, from your lofty and well-connected position and in your part the world of ringing world, is applicable to struggling serf ringers in areas like mine is insulting. It makes it sound like you think we just aren't trying hard enough or something. We don't even have 30 ringers in total this side of Manchester, let alone 30 who would come to such sessions.

    How about climbing down from your ivory rower and ringing somewhere like I do for 6 months? Then we'll talk. Because at the moment, you are coming across to me as part of the problem, not the solution.
  • Simon Linford
    220
    One of the reasons for establishing the RingingForums was to get away from the Facebook groups where people insult each other. We all have different experiences to share. Let's get back to a civil discussion
  • John de Overa
    238
    We need recognition of the challenges ringing is facing in areas like mine, which means listening to what we are saying and accepting the truth of it. It's hard to keep being tolerant when that doesn't happen.
  • John Harrison
    184
    sport doesn't imply competition. A lot of sports are not. Read the official definition and you will see it is a good fit for ringing.
  • Simon Linford
    220
    your area does sound particularly tough
  • John de Overa
    238
    I've spoken to people who have rung here going back as far as the 60s & 70s and it's never been particularly great - in the past there were individual bands that had periods of high activity and quality ringing, but not any more. The problem we currently face is that we appear to have dropped below "critical mass" as far as learning method ringing goes, the bands that are still active are elderly, and only CC/PH. There are a couple of towers in the broader area with method bands but they tend to be populated by older ringers and not particularly engaged with learners. It's going to be difficult to move things along without a "backbone" of established method ringers, and even if we had that I think we'd have to coordinate efforts across multiple towers. The issue there is that there are 4 different associations in the immediate area, none of who talk to each other. I think stepping outside of the territorial boundaries in the way ART did is probably the best option, but as I understand it that wasn't an easy process and I'm not well established enough a ringer to take that on.
  • Tristan Lockheart
    74
    It sounds like you could do with a "Method Ringing Centre", drawing together all of those able and willing to teach method ringing, to get ringers in your area into methods and plug the gap now before it's too late.

    Of course, you'll need leaders and organisers (don't necessarily have to be good method ringers themselves!) and people capable of teaching methods well; a simulator may also be of use. You would probably need local support from tower captains willing to refer their own ringers to you to provide opportunities not available at their home tower. Might I suggest that even if you're not an "established ringer", this ought not to be a barrier? Your local associations are probably full of "established ringers", but yet are not preventing a decline of method ringing... if you can motivate a few people with the teaching skills to join a group you lead/organise, then locally you should be able to acheive something worthwhile; maybe even become a role-model!

    One of my projects over the next year is going to be surveying the state of ringing in my area. The phrase "critical mass" is something that has been lurking in the back of my mind. This was mentioned at the CC AGM too. I have a suspicion that we are nearing the failure point of method ringing in certain areas; a survey of ages and level of ringing would give an indication of how long each area has left. Some areas may be in too poor a shape to wait for @Simon Linford and co's 2030 plan, but others may be able to hold out. One thing is for certain; the longer it takes for us to make changes, the exponentially harder it will be to make ringing sustainable.
  • John de Overa
    238
    your suggestions are all good but we have issues which make our area particularly challenging:

    • willing to teach method ringing ... plug the gap now before it's too late
      unfortunately my belief is that we are already past that point, we don't have those people any longer. We need to figure out how to restart method ringing as it's dead, at least as far as new ringers are concerned. To learn to ring methods I have to teach myself on the sim, and then travel to ring with a capable band - and there, if I as the "learner" can't go, there may not be enough people to run a practice. That's good for me as I have had to rapidly "ring up" towards the band's standard and I get lots of rope time, but not a good thing overall.
    • local support from tower captains ... not available at their home tower
      towers are pretty isolated from each other and many of the TCs can't ring beyond PH themselves - and the geographical area is covered by 4 different associations, so outreach and coordination are particular challenges. For example, until relative recently we didn't have anyone in our tower who was a member of any association.
    • Your local associations are probably full of "established ringers"
      they may be elsewhere in the associations, but not near here. The associations are large, some of them would take 2h30m or more to get between the farthest separated towers. We do visit our nearest ringing centre when we can, but it's a 2h drive for 2h30m ringing, and only happens once a month. So whilst there may be suitable people, they aren't realistically accessible to us at the frequency we'd need to re-bootstrap method ringing here.
    • a few people with the teaching skills to join a group
      there really aren't any, and those that might be capable are "old school" and/or getting to the end of their ringing careers, or are burned out. Plus I believe part of the reason we are in the current situation is because of the way method ringing was taught in the past - we need a new approach that's more "small steps" and approachable for bands where the majority are method ringing learners - we don't have the luxury of being able to surround people with a band of competent method ringers on a regular basis.
    • The phrase "critical mass" is something that has been lurking in the back of my mind. ... I have a suspicion that we are nearing the failure point of method ringing in certain areas ... Some areas may be in too poor a shape to wait for @Simon Linford and co's 2030 plan ... One thing is for certain; the longer it takes for us to make changes, the exponentially harder it will be to make ringing sustainable.
      I think you have nailed it there, our area feels like such a "basket case". As I've said previously it was never great anyway, and I believe is now beyond the tipping point and method ringing is finished here without considered, coordinated and sustained action. On the upside, if it can be fixed here, then I think it can be fixed anywhere :grin:

    You mentioned @Simon Linford's 2030 plan, I don't think I've heard about that? In any case, as you say I don't think we have the luxury waiting until 2030 around here.
  • Graham John
    118
    You mentioned Simon Linford's 2030 plan, I don't think I've heard about that? In any case, as you say I don't think we have the luxury waiting until 2030 around here.John de Overa

    "2030" is to focus a November meeting of the CC Executive and Workgroup Leaders on "What we want ringing to look like in 2030" and produce a plan for how to get there. It doesn't mean do nothing until 2030 when some magical transformation will occur. It also doesn't mean that there aren't already initiatives being progressed.
  • John de Overa
    238
    t doesn't mean do nothing until 2030 when some magical transformation will occurGraham John

    Phew! :grin: Thanks for the information, as for "initiatives" "being progressed", good to hear it - are there any details available anywhere? Thanks.
  • Graham John
    118
    as for "initiatives" "being progressed", good to hear it - are there any details available anywhere?John de Overa

    Yes, the 2022 CCCBR report. There are two workgroups focussed on young ringers, the V&L workgroup on leadership and training and PR on public relations and communication. Specific initiatives include the introduction of a new annual ringing course in the NorthEast, a new Ringing Centre in Northampton, a new mobile belfry first seen at the Ringing Roadshow last Sunday, ringing material added to the National Curriculum, and much more. This is in addition to anything the affiliated societies and ART are doing.
  • John de Overa
    238
    There are two workgroups focussed on young ringers...Graham John

    Glad to see it, but it only addresses a small section of the current ringing community. I hope that's "as well as" addressing the issues with progression that many existing, non-youth ringers are facing. We don't need to work to recruit those people, we just need to help them, it's pretty much the definition of low-hanging fruit.

    Glad to see the other initiatives as well, but I don't think they are sufficient. As I've already said, the associations in my area are pretty much a busted flush as far as addressing the challenges around method ringing goes - if they weren't then there wouldn't be a problem in the first place. What would help is something that bypasses the current association model when that's necessary.

    I have read that some in the the CCCBR would like to move to a direct membership model. To justify that, the CCCBR needs to be providing something that can't be provided by the existing territorial associations. Support for restarting method ringing in areas where it has or is dying out ticks just about every box I can think of. There are a number of ways I think the CCCBR could help, and it is an unrivalled position to do so as it has access to expertise at a national level. One of the earlier posts mentioned "sustainable" and I think that's absolutely key, no point parachuting in expertise if things fall apart as soon as it's gone. Roadshows, courses, ringing centres etc are all good things to have, but empowering and supporting people so they can get to the point where they can self-sustain in the long-term is I believe more important.
  • Graham John
    118
    but empowering and supporting people so they can get to the point where they can self-sustain in the long-term is I believe more important.John de Overa

    I am sure that the CC would welcome your ideas on how that might be achieved.
  • John de Overa
    238
    I'm happy to provide a list of suggestions, but I suspect this forum is not the best way of doing so. I think there would have to be a large amount of "Suck it and see". Some ideas will already be "on the list", some will be non-starters, others will seem like a good idea but don't work in practice, some will work in one place and not another, other initially non-obvious things will become obvious only after some time.

    If anyone really knew how to do this, the discussion wouldn't be happening in the first place.
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