• Paul Wotton
    9
    I thought it might be worth sharing a recent experience of non-ringers appreciating responsible ringing. Really to make the point that the quality of what we ring does matter to the wider public and hence to the public support we can expect.

    I was recently asked by a village tower captain if I could find a band for a wedding as she could not from her local ringers. This I managed to do and as part of that ringing rang a reasonable quarter after the service. In an e-mail thanking me for arranging the ringing the local tower captain remarked "Appreciative comments received from quite a few (non ringing) locals on the performances.". This ties in with the opinion an experienced peal ringer who heard the last 10 minutes or so whilst waiting to pick up his wife who was in the band. So it seems the reasonable striking is appreciated.
  • Vicki Chapman
    11
    Thank you for your post Paul. We often feel unappreciated and the general public may not know good from bad striking but I think we do us, and them a diservice by thinking that way and should always apsire to strike well, regardless of what we're ringing for.
  • John Harrison
    92
    I've heard comments that make it clear members of the public can tell the difference between good and bad ringing if exposed to both. The fact that some are grateful for the bells being rung imperfectly could just mean they like bells and they've never heard any better.
    Two relevant examples. 1 On an outing someone in the tea shop said how nice it was to hear their bells rung properly. 2 A message from a neighbour complaint about 'demented ringing' after a quarter fired out and the conductor let it struggle on too long.
  • Alison Hodge
    88
    Yes, people do notice, for example half muffled ringing gets comments such as "oh, the bells sounded different today"
  • SteveNoyes
    1
    From a parishioner a while back: "I did enjoy your ringing this morning, but how do you decide who does the two extra dings at the end of each piece?" Grrrr! Yes, people really DO notice; our neighbour was blind but had good hearing, and commented that the bells "sounded different" the week after we removed the thin plywood weather boards from inside the louvres for the summer.
  • David Smith
    7
    I think ringers often over-estimate the degree to which the public appreciate what we call good ringing. Various points:
    Ringing in the background of TV programs featuring an English village generally has dreadful striking; since it's only a sound track, and the director/producer/whoever could pick anything, they presumably have no idea what good ringing is.
    It's often just ringing (anything) that is appreciated. I remember overseas (Taiwan) visitors coming to their daughter's wedding in Melbourne, and they were totally blown away by all aspects of the cathedral wedding. "We especially loved the bells, and really liked that syncopated effect". (If a ringer said that it would be sarcasm, but they really meant it!)
    If we were serious about ringing what the public liked, we would ring (well-struck) call changes - these always seem to be the most popular with non-ringers. And we would seldom ring peals, as they generate the most complaints!
    None of which means I'm in any way against striving to ring more challenging methods with improved striking - but I suspect it is mostly for our own benefit.
  • Simon Linford
    152
    Just an amusing anecodate to add. We had a potential new recruit who is a very professional musician and composer. After he had been listening to the practice for about an hour and had an explanation of change ringing he asked "how many different rhythms are you trying to achieve?"
  • James Ramsbottom
    3
    Like many others, I have stories of non-ringers appreciating good ringing without having to be told what it is. I suspect that many of them wouldn't be able to say what makes it good, but that doesn't mean that they can't appreciate it.

    Similarly, I suspect that most, if not all, ringers can tell the difference between good and bad ringing. Therefore, the difference in ability lies in realising what isn't right and having good enough bell control to improve it.
  • John Harrison
    92
    you are probably right that most ringers could tell the difference between good an bad ringing when listening to it. I suspect the problem is that they don't listen to what they are ringing. Listening, especially critically, takes effort and focus. If bell control, ringing the method and worrying about ropesight use up attention there may not be any left for listening. Metaphorically they get 'tunnel vision' and just don't register the audible rhythm. If they have been taught to ring visually and never developed the habit of latching onto the sound, it becomes a 'too difficult' optional extra.
  • Simon Linford
    152
    An associated question is whether too much emphasis on performance would put people off wanting to become bellringers in the first place. How early in the recruitment process do we want to stress that our aim is to do something as well as posisble and that the pursuit of high quality performance is impoprtant, as opposed to attracting recruits to something that is a relatively unpressured pastime.

    This is quite an important question when considering the positioning of ringing going forward.
  • A J Barnfield
    127
    I would hope that it is possible to provide an enjoyable and rewarding experience while striving for quality. Anyone here who is in, say, a choir or orchestra that gives public performances? What are their views and experiences compared to ringing?
  • Geoff Pullin
    4
    I have observed that many ringers who do not listen to their ringing adequately now, were perfectly able to discern good and bad striking before they learned to ring! Must be my teaching.
  • John Harrison
    92
    joke noted, but there's a serious thread of truth. New ringers absorb their habits and attitudes from other ringers. In that sense, we (collectively) teach them what is and isn't important. Obviously we have a range of values but those who do value quality clearly don't pull hard enough against those who don't to shift the average.
  • Simon Linford
    152
    Has the emphasis on striking changed over time? Have we become a bit more lax, a bit more reluctant to stress its importance because we don't want to put people off? I must confess that in my own tower leadership I don't talk about striking as much as I might, sometimes because I don't want to annoy someone by keep going on about it. You have to couch these things in careful terms.
  • John Harrison
    92
    has it changed? Hard to say because we are comparing what we remember with now. Our standards might have changed and our memory is notoriously prone to biases.
    Do we have to be careful not to upset people? The obvious comparator there is other activities. For example would a conductor not say anything when an orchestra plays out of tune for fear of offending the musicians?
    I think there is a culture problem with the attitude to quality with many, though not all bands. But i think it's deeper than not wanting to talk about it (suppressing bad news) often it is simply not knowing what bad news is. That in itself is a symptom of not valueing it enough to learn.
  • Cathy Dixon
    3
    I think Simon has made a very valid point about not wanting to be too critical and put ringers off. Statistically we have many more bells than ringers and I know of many churches that struggle to get a band for service ringing. A compromise may be to have some pieces of ringing where the emphasis is simplicity but good striking, balanced by some ringing that allows learners (of all abilities) to flourish. My caveat is that Sunday service ringing should always be the best ringing possible with the ringers available.
  • John de Overa
    72
    The general public definitely do know the difference between good and bad striking, because round here they actually tell me when it's good. Latest example was last Sunday when we rang to open the Xmas fair - we had a couple of "ringer" ringers as we were short, and the ringing was better than usual as a result, and people noticed :roll:

    As for why it's generally an issue, I think that unfortunately it's an inevitable consequence of how ringing is taught, which is overwhelmingly by vision. From the very start it's drummed in to people to "follow the bell in front". Unquestioningly. Ringers who have been ringing for much longer that I have will tell me "X was holding up" and when I say "Just ring over them" then they simply can't bring themselves to. The result is entirely predictable, one bad striker in a band where people solely ring by vision and it's game over.
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