• Simon Linford
    220
    I normally hate the use of Lite rather than Light but I'll risk it!

    If you wanted to have a much easier form of bellringing that could be learned quickly for mass participation, what would it be? It would need to broaden the base of the pyramid but encourage those interested in moving into tower bell ringing to take the plunge and learn the skill. it would need not to devalue ringing but give a glimpse of what could be.

    The running world has done it with parkrun. Before parkrun there were running clubs often featuring words like "Harriers", which were pretty intimidating for the non-athlete. parkrun has massively increased participation in running but it has also served to grow running clubs which have found more people getting interested in running and taking it more seriously.

    The same thing happened with cycling. Cycling clubs would have been very intimidating for the average cyclist, seeing those people with expensive bikes and all the kit. But cycling intoruced sportifs and increased participation 10-fold. Again the knock on effect was that more people also joined cycling clubs.

    One of the difficulties we have is that learning to ring is hard. Running and riding a bike are very easy by comparison. Social media and apps like Strava have been important in the growth of both running and cycling, creating the communities.

    Is there an equivalent for ringing?
    What would 'Ringing Lite' be?
  • Graham John
    118
    We have two already:

    1: Devon-style call changes - easier to learn to ring below the balance; quicker to reach an acceptable standard; an end in itself.

    2: Bob Minor on handbells - Plain hunt can be taught in a single session; Plain courses in a few more; Quarter-peal as a short-term objective (straightforward if there are two experienced helpers).
  • John de Overa
    238
    Bob Minor on handbells - Plain hunt can be taught in a single sessionGraham John

    Eh? I tried handbells, I simply can't get on with them, other acquaintances are the same. I know some pretty experienced ringers who took up handbells during COVID, it took them many months to get to QP level.
  • Andrew G Smith
    10
    1. Call changes or just rounds…..Doesn’t have to be below the balance, which is not necessarily easier.
    2. I know of examples where bells hung full circle are just chimed. Ringing lite, but maybe too lite?
    3. Handbells, perhaps just one handbell each if attempting plain hunt and beyond?
  • Jason Carter
    55
    We have two already:

    1: Devon-style call changes - easier to learn to ring below the balance; quicker to reach an acceptable standard; an end in itself.

    2: Bob Minor on handbells - Plain hunt can be taught in a single session; Plain courses in a few more; Quarter-peal as a short-term objective (straightforward if there are two experienced helpers).
    Graham John

    On item 1 I have often wondered this...would it be better to teach a learner with a bell that is down...and start to ring it up..to whatever level...maybe just below the balance. I am not sure, and I have never tried.

    On item 2 I am inclined to agree, this could be an easier way into change ringing... but (caveat) I have found the lower slopes relatively easy. I would like to try some more steeper slopes though... :-)
  • John Harrison
    184
    one obvious form of lite is handbells, where the handling skill is fairly easy. Entry level could use single bells with natural progression for those who want it to either two in hand or one in tower.
  • Andrew G Smith
    10
    @Jason Carter you say “On item 1 I have often wondered this...would it be better to teach a learner with a bell that is down...and start to ring it up..to whatever level...maybe just below the balance. I am not sure, and I have never tried.”

    That’s what the ART “bell down” teaching method promotes. I’ve used it successfully and many other have as well. I would suggest it’s a ‘lite’ teaching method which the less experienced teacher might find easier.
  • Jason Carter
    55
    why do you think it is a 'lite' approach? And why do you think it is easier for a less experienced teacher? (btw I am very comfortable teaching on my home tower bells but not as comfortable teaching in another tower, due to the relative lack of familiarity with the bells... and I have never tried teaching from the down position...) Very interested to understand your thoughts :-)
  • John Harrison
    184
    would it be better to teach a learner with a bell that is down...and start to ring it up..to whatever level...maybe just below the balance. I am not sure, and I have nAndrew G Smith

    That's how I was taught, and how I taught everyone in my teens. I was unaware that teaching ringing was difficult. When I went to university I saw people being taught starting with the bell up and thought how dangerous it looked.
    In reality there's a lot more to how you teach than where the bell is at the start of lesson one.
  • Andrew G Smith
    10
    without going into great detail, and as @John Harrison implies it’s less prone to bending the stay. The student gets the idea of ringing by starting from bell down and in a number of stages goes “higher and higher”, getting familiar with the swing and what the rope does before entering stay bending territory. It’s also less immediately demanding on the teacher for the same reason.
  • Simon Linford
    220
    How many ringers taught in the south west from down get as far as ringing call changes without ever having set a bell? Does that happen?
  • Andrew G Smith
    10
    not seen that happen, but it’s possible.
  • Peter Sotheran
    54
    Ringing for a specific event is often a good 'hook' on which to catch new recruits. In January/February of this year we offered via our local FB page 'free lessons to anyone who wanted to be able to say that they rang for the Queen's Jubilee'. We attracted 6 new recruits; one quit immediately - 'not what she thought it would be' - one struggled to attend regularly, and we have retained and developed the other three who are plain hunting & covering and about to move on to PB5. We shall probablty repeat the exercise next January inviting them to ring for the coronation.
  • Alison Hodge
    106
    Use handbells for tune ringing as a start, then introduce "what else could you do with handbells?".
    Having demonstrated change ringing to non-ringers at events such as carol services in churches, schools, care homes etc, children and older people are fascinated by the change ringing and some then want to have a go. The opinion of the carols can be "oh the same carols but on a different instrument - we know that carol anyway" but the change ringing is what catches their attention.

    If you want to hear music on handbells that is not ringing "lite", then listen to some of the larger bell choirs in the USA!
  • John de Overa
    238
    The student gets the idea of ringing by starting from bell down and in a number of stages goes “higher and higher”, getting familiar with the swing and what the rope does before entering stay bending territory.Andrew G Smith

    Yes, exactly. I started being taught "bell up" at my home tower and then went to an ART tower for lessons where I was taught "bell down", so I experienced both as a learner. I much preferred "bell down", with "bell up" if I fluffed it and the bell dropped it was game over (and very scary) as I had no feel for the bell below the balance and someone had to take the rope from me. With "bell down" I quickly learned to go back into "ringing up" mode if I let the bell drop, so I became "self recovering". I felt a lot safer, and a lot more confident.
  • Steve Farmer
    5
    the ART method of teaching teaches from bell down, much more controlled and less stressful for both learner and teacher
  • Stuart Palin
    7
    <going off-topic> I teach from "bell up" and manage to maintain good control and low-stress. Teaching control of the bell (or at least managing the bell) below the balance point is an important stage of learning but can be (and should be) incorporated into a "bell up" approach.

    I have seen teaching done badly (and the results of teaching done badly) - I don't know what it did to the learner & teacher, but it put my stress levels up.
  • Stuart Palin
    7
    I am not convinced that it is easier to ring bells below the balance point. The work and skill required to accurately change position seems much higher. I enjoy ringing at a "cracking pace" - but to do it well requires a very solid familiarity with bell handling.

    To my mind tower-bell ringing has a physical skill aspect and an academic study aspect. With the increased availability of computer based ringing software it is practical to separate the two - but this might be a two-edged sword. It could be all too easy for someone's theoretical/method knowledge to quickly outstrip their physical ability to ring it on tower bells. Might this be disheartening and turn the person away from tower bell ringing? Would having people who only meet and ring virtually be good, bad, or neutral for ringing.

    One aspect of the initiatives in cycling and running is that people go out and meet with others - there is a community aspect to it. How might ringing develop its community activity aspect - particularly in the context of a shrinking Church. I suspect that cycling and running were able to capitalize on people having the fundamental necessary physical skill and provide a social aspect to it. Given it's a rather specialized physical skill ringing might need to find a different approach.
  • Simon Linford
    220
    That is something the HRGB said worked. When they have worked with schools, they use bellplates first of all to get children used to making a noise, then they introduce real handbells. Although they stopped there, they thought that change ringing could then be introduced easily.

    I agree with @Graham John that Bob Minor on handbells is achievable pretty quickly by most of those who would subsequently take to change ringing on tower bells. Philip Earis has a test that is to see if learners can ring two handbells to rounds quickly - a very good test of rhythm and hearing.

    @Stuart Palin's point about whether someone who learns handbells quickly might not bother with tower bell ringing is interesting. The tower bell ringing definitely needs to be seen as more than just the pursuit of methods etc. I had a quite autistic student in lockdown who got to the point of being able to ring Stedman Cinques on two bells on Abel, but cannot ring Grandsire Doubles on a tower bell, which is frustrating to a degree, but for her the physical ringing is the most important thing.
  • Admin
    4
    I don’t think you can have a ‘lite’ version of ringing - there are handbells or tower bells, and you need to learn how to do whichever you choose properly. Admittedly tower bells are harder to learn, but you have to teach someone properly and to the point where they can ring safely on their own as a minimum. Of course, you need people to teach them as well (a problem I have currently with lots of new recruits but not enough time/people to teach them).

    Doug
  • Simon Gay
    1
    The analogies with running and cycling are interesting. They are not necessarily as easy as Simon claims. Not everyone who starts doing parkrun is able to run 5km immediately and some people will spend weeks or months walking, or alternating running and walking, until they can run the full distance. Many people learn to ride a bike as children, and famously they never lose the skill, but I expect that learning to cycle as an adult is more difficult and takes longer.

    I have limited experience of teaching handbells to people who are not tower bell ringers. Tina ran a handbell club at our children's primary school several years ago, and it was quite successful, with most of the children getting to plain hunting on four and then six fairly quickly. The school liked it because it was an after-school activity other than sports, which gets a lot of attention but leaves out children who are not so interested in sports. Unfortunately we didn't get any of them into the tower, partly because Glasgow isn't really suitable for teaching primary children (it's a 32cwt 10 with quite a long draught).

    The question would be, what kind of events do we have where members of the public could be given a go at handbell ringing?
  • John de Overa
    238
    It could be all too easy for someone's theoretical/method knowledge to quickly outstrip their physical ability to ring it on tower bells. Might this be disheartening and turn the person away from tower bell ringing?Stuart Palin

    I was told early on to keep my theoretical knowledge a step ahead of my practical ability. I think it was good advice, I've always had a "next goal" and when trying something new if you understand it well it is one less thing to worry about. But I can see that (say) confusing the hell out of someone with the complexities of spliced whatever when they are trying to learn PB5 could be disheartening, so I think there's is a balance to be struck.

    Bob Minor on handbells is achievable pretty quickly by most of those who would subsequently take to change ringing on tower bells.Simon Linford

    Well that's my ringing career finished then... :joke: I'm not a HB ringer, the couple of times I did try (under duress) was after I could already ring a tower bell. Although the patterns are the same, virtually nothing else is. If I'd been introduced to HBs first, I think it would have put me off ringing altogether. One of the big attractions of tower bells was the physicality, which is completely absent from HBs. I'm sure for some people HBs could be a gateway into tower ringing, but for others it could be the opposite.
  • Graham John
    118
    I'm not a HB ringer, the couple of times I did try (under duress)John de Overa

    There are many good towerbell ringers that try handbells and give up very quickly because their expectation is that they should be able to ring what they can ring on towerbells immediately, and they are not prepared to put in even a small fraction of the time they spent learning to ring towerbells. The 'under duress' is also quite telling, I think you are much more likely to succeed with something you actually are keen to do.
  • John de Overa
    238
    before taking up bellringing I played group percussion to a high standard, but handbell ringing doesn't appeal to me, although I appreciate performances such as the recent ASCY dinner one. And yes, if I turn up at a tower bell session, that's sort of what I expect to be doing :wink:
  • John Harrison
    184
    I think prior expectation of being able to do thins is important. I remember in my 30s when I tried hang gliding, reality didn't match my vision of effortlessly soaring. Control is achieved by a combination of arm and body movement like it is on a bike, but whereas I was fluent on a bike my reactions were wrong with a hang glider.
    I think it's worse for adults because they are used to being able to do things competently, having given up the things that they couldn't do long ago. That could be why children find it easier, as Phil Gay once said, 'children learn things for a living'.
  • Derek Williams
    1
    Use mini rings. It takes 5-10 minutes to learn how to handle a bells and a few minutes more to get the hang of ringing rounds. From there it's onwards and upwards. More or less instant satisfaction for beginners.
  • Simon Linford
    220
    I was wondering how long we were going to have to wait before someone said that!
  • Mike Shelley
    13
    Don't forget that many people are first exposed to the sounding of tower bells at towers where the bells are chimed, (either currently or permanently). Chiming methods is feasible for many learners after some appropriate instruction and practice. From there to learning to ring full-circle at another tower is a surprisingly small step.
  • John Harrison
    184
    I assume you mean with a chiming frame, which most towers don't have. I don't think trying to ring methods chiming with the wheels would be at all easy.
  • Mike Shelley
    13
    I wasn't meaning chiming with wheels. Actually, there are hundreds of towers where bells are chimed from a frame, whether or not the tower also rings full circle. A visiting full circle ringer to my home tower chimed Plain Bob Doubles from memory so why is there a general perception that frame chiming doesn't include methods and call changes from full circle ringing?

    Its true that I'm barely able to get up the tower these days but it has been my habit to chime minimus methods. I aspire to eventually chime methods on more of "my" available bells. Chorley, Lancs, introduces about 10 students per year to tower bells through frame chiming and even Dove's Guide has now included a few thousand additional towers where chiming is the norm. Chiming is a part of our bells' heritage, albeit the poor relation.

    Sure, full circle ringing is the pinacle, but chiming saves many rings from oblivion. If there was ever a suitable method of sounding bells by the masses, that doesn't entail weeks of training, frame-chiming is it.

    Every "happy couple" for whom I've chimed my home tower's bells has visited the tower beforehand, had a guided tour and explanations through the belfry, had an opportunity to get up-close-and-personal with the bells, and has gone away happy, having learned to chime "Abide With Me", "Here Comes the Bride" and Rounds & Queens etc on the eight.

    All that from a 1 1/2 to 2hr visit.
  • John Harrison
    184
    a chiming frame, if you have one, is certainly a good way to provide the sound of bells if there isn't a band, and methods can be sounded on a chime.
    But for one person to chime all the bells is a significant step above ringing one, or even two, and there wouldn't be space for six or more people to operate frames I've seen.
    So I'm not sure this is a viable route into change ringing, compared with say handbells.
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