• Alison Hodge
    What is the origin and reason for no visual aids while ringing?
  • John Harrison
    I have always assumed it's a combination of practicality and machismo. One might draw a parallel with country dancing, which had some similarities, albeit shorter, less complex performances.
  • Alison Hodge
    Yes, there are parallels with other activities where memory is expected or necessary or both. Conversely, musicians (including marching bands) and choristers usually have their score, as does the conductor. Some education tests and exams are now operated "open book" as it is recognises that they need to examine understanding and ability to apply the knowledge, not just the recall of facts and text.

    So why no visual aids in ringing? When we are ringing are we aiming to demonstrate the memory capacity of the ringers or create a good sound for the listeners? After all, those hearing the ringing have no knowledge of whether a memory feat is being accomplished or not.

    I agree that some more extreme ringing will be a test of memory and / or stamina. But for more "routine" ringing, we often discuss how improve striking to make our "performances" better for the listening public as well as the ringers.

    I wonder how many capable ringers, who can handle and strike bells well, get stuck in their ringing, become frustrated then leave because they simply find it difficult to remember blue lines, compositions etc?

    So why do we not encourage the use of visual aids? I accept the point about practicality (safety must be a priority) but with the technology now available, it is not just a board propped in front of a ringer that may be considered. Projectors onto walls, voice input through headphones, and perhaps even head sets could now be considered. Would such an approach help to retain some ringers who have been trained to handle a bell well?

    The CCCBR Workgroup I lead has a remit that includes "research and innovation in the advancement of bell ringing, its methodologies, tools and technologies". So, how about reconsidering the "no visual aids" for at least some ringing?
  • A J Barnfield
    And we might find out to our cost,
    The pain of peal or quarter lost,
    When left alone to mull and rue,
    The failure of the autocue.
  • John Harrison
    are ringing are we aiming to demonstrate the memory capacity of the ringers or create a good sound for the listeners?...Alison Hodge
    We should be doing the latter. Memory is merely one component (along with skill, focus, etc) needed to achieve it. Most of the poor striking I hear is not associated with memory failure (I've mistakes) it is down to lack of skill and/or intent.

    I wonder how many capable ringers, who can handle and strike bells well, get stuck in their ringing, become frustrated then leave because they simply find it difficult to remember blue lines, compositions etc?...Alison Hodge
    Not many I suspect.
    So why do we not encourage the use of visual aids?...Alison Hodge
    Mostly they don't help, because most people use ropesight to a degree and it's hard to read from a script at the same time. Some people do have a blue line in front of them as a prompt when learning. Would it be worth the effort of developing something to project it on the wall?
    Would it help the conductor to have the composition on display in front of her? If I mis call it's not usually because I've forgotten the composition, it's because I've forgotten where I am in it, or got distracted correcting someone shortly before a call.
  • John de Overa
    Conversely, musicians (including marching bands) and choristers usually have their scoreAlison Hodge

    I used to play in a world music percussion group, there was no written music, in much of the world, music is taught entirely aurally, e.g. Indian tabla bols. I think scores are a very European thing and in any case, it's not true that most musicians usually have their scores - pop performers don't and classical soloists usually don't either.

    Having said that, I have seen people put blue lines on the floor in front of them when practising, although I don't think it was very effective as it was too small, and distracted from watching the other bells.

    Visual aids during ringing learning, at least, seem to be encouraged, that's at least half of the functionality of a simulator and they are generally accepted as A Good Thing. I have the moving ringers display and the animated blue line down the side turned on (which I mostly ignore, until I've gone wrong :blush:). I used to use the "highlight the ringer to follow" feature a lot as well and I might still during the early stages of learning something new and difficult so I don't fall completely off the line, but it certainly doesn't help the quality of my striking.

    I think summed it up well, I think for most people visual aids during performances would be likely to make things worse, not better. Personally I already find ropesight hard, trying to watch something else at the same time would be horrendous.
  • Simon Ridley
    As a musician, if I memorise or learn tonthr poj thr score is just a prompt, my music I have an understanding and grasp far beyond the score. I can also focus on my performance alone and not divert energy into reading music. That is why musicians practice, as should ringers, to hone skills so they need only focus on performance, not technicality and distractions. If you are having to read the music, you haven't practiced enough!
  • DRJA Dewar
    The lack of visual, or any other aids, is surely part of the process which animates individuals to indulge in ringing. If one adjudges the process to be worth performing, then surely a small addition to the challenge (i.e. a modicum of memorising, and some intelligent deduction - for example, from the grid categorisation) is to be welcomed. Certainly, in a peal or longer, one needs something to keep the mind alive.

    Also, as a musician, I learn the technicalities of a piece (or, perhaps more accurately, apply my knowledge of the period of music to inform my performance). One allies this with, with the part, or score when I'm conducting, acting as an aide memoire. After all, no audience member would care (and pay) to hear a performance which is not as perfect as one can make it. The unspoken contract is that I as performer must do my utmost based on study and performance practice, to strive as pure as experience of the music as is possible. With the canon of music in repertoire from the 11th century to the present day, it would be somewhat of a chore to try to memorise it all.
  • Jim Crabtree
    Shouldn't we encourage people to do what works best for them and for the overall public performance?
    I know of people (me, for example) who have put a blue line on the floor or asked someone to hold it next to them, even if they have done the right thing and spent time learning it. They often don't look at it but it gives confidence because it is there or they only look at it when they lose their place (as with a musician's music). Many bands don't have a conductor to put things right so a visual aid can help. Equally many towers don't have spare ringers to "stand behind". There are plenty of towers ringing call changes where they display the "music" on the wall or even on a bespoke stand in the middle of the circle - a lot of good ringing results.
    Yes, some might find it a distraction from ropesight but others won't. Would it help on a practice night? Let's all try things and do what is right for where we are and who we are with.
  • John de Overa
    visual aids for one or two learners when practicing is one thing, but I can't see how that would work for a whole band, and the safety issues are very real.


    I know of a band near here who have the numbers for a plain course of PBD on the walls - and the ringing is execrable, even with the numbers. Visual aids aren't the issue, their approach and ethos is.
  • Simon Meyer
    Some of our band do have the line available at times, particularly when we are moving on to a new method. I have no problem with that if they find it helpful.

    But they never ring as fluently when they are looking at the line. So we move away as soon as we can, and certainly don't use them for quarters.
  • Rosalind Martin
    There are other visual aids - for a learner getting to grips with their first method, it might be helpful to get the treble ringer to wear a red top. This isn't a "cheat" or a distraction - it is an aid that simply encourages the learner to pay particular attention to the treble. It would be particularly useful when ringing an unfamiliar set of bells.
  • John Harrison
    I've rung at towers where the Treble rope had a different coloured Sally.
  • PeterScott
    The Framework mentions 6.C.2.f) "Neither ringers nor conductor(s) used any physical aids to memory during the Performance" as a norm requiring reporting if not met.

    Maybe the greatest help could come from an earpiece connected to a smartphone. If we can connect ringers-across-the-world with Ringing Room, and alter the Framework to accommodate the new environment, maybe a hint of the current coursing order, or what-to-do having fallen-off-the-line can usefully be in the ear. Indeed Hawkear could tell each of us how we are doing in time for the next row ...

    As to visual aids, I created on our large screen visible to the whole band a display of the current callchange, operated with a footswitch to alter to the next one. That's very simple technology not requiring technical innovation. ...
  • Peter Sotheran
    "Projectors onto walls, voice input through headphones, and perhaps even head sets could now be considered. - ALISON"
    It's not really about the technology, surely the message/content is the more important.
  • Simon Linford
    and at st Martin's Birmingham every fourth sally is blue for just this reason!
  • Simon Linford
    Google glass, which never saw the commercial light of day, would have enabled a conductor to ring a peal with the composition projected as a head up display. But why would anyone do it? The mental challenge is part of why we do it, why we spend hours and hours learning methods and compositions, why we accept the risk that after hours, mental error might thwart your efforts.
  • DRJA Dewar
    Simon Linford - exactly, the mental effort is the main thing, far above any physical aspects.
  • John de Overa
    the battery life was awful and almost certainly wouldn't have lasted the length of a peal with video running.
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