• Oliver Lee
    for the last couple of months I have been regularly practices at a fine heavy eight not far too from where I live, for the most part the practices are well attended but for a decidedly odd reason much of the ringing takes place on the front six!. whenever I have asked why the eight are rarely rung it always seems to be a different answer each time, the main excuse seems to be that they don't have enough people but sometimes we have more enough to ring all eight and indeed quite a few of our regular visitors have rung eight bell methods there comparatively recently (allbeit 7 or 10 years ago!), although I have practically nothing to do with the tower outside of my weekly practice visits it pains me that all eight are never rung regularly and I was wondering if there is anyone here who has been in a simlar situation?
    many thanks
    oliver lee

  • Jonathan FryeAccepted Answer
    I have come across this before. As best I could work out it happened because the person in charge, and maybe the majority of the band, didn't think it was worth the effort. I say that without passing any judgement, they simply reached a different conclusion to me.

    The second reason is that once it becomes habit to ring the front 6 people stop thinking about ringing the back bells. So even if there is a band to ring to ring all 8 it might have genuinely not even crossed the organiser's mind.

    It sounds like you have the second reason covered as you are asking the question of the organiser. The best way I have found to tackle the first issue is to offer to do all the work! That means offering to ring tenor, and if its still down then offering to ring it up. It helps if you have another enthusiastic friend who will offer to ring the other back bell. Faced with two keen and willing volunteers to undertake all of the additional effort it is much harder for the organiser to say no.
  • Lucy Chandhial
    It could also be that ringing all eight would then be limited to called changes or plain hunt, to keep to quality striking for neighbours, and that perhaps this is part of the decision to ring six where the method repertoire might be wider for most people at the practice. So it is definitely worth asking for a little bit more information, whilst making it clear that you would like the opportunity to ring all eight.
    Some towers near me have one practice a month which aims to ring all bells and they ask extra visitors or irregular visitors to make extra effort to come that week of the month to make it possible to ring all bells at least once a month.
  • Oliver Lee
    I have tried asking in the past but it's the same excuse of "oh the bells are too heavy" or "only when the right people turn up", ironically they did used to be a monthly "eight bell" practice long before I started ringing and I do know that ten years ago they could ring up to stedman triples so I think it's just a lack of interest ( coupled with a lot of learners!). however I am not going to give up and I think I might just try and give your strategy a go, I will let you know how I get on
  • Peter Sotheran
    It can often be a combination of ringing skills & confidence. There is a heavy eight (23cwts) near us that have recently come back to life after hanging dormant for several years. Very few of the ringers have the physical strength or handling skills to ring them accurately to a plain hunt, let alone to methods. So we stick to the front six while we introduce them to basic change ringing and use the full eight only for r&cc.
  • Simon Chadwick
    Yes I ring at an 8 bell tower where the front six or even the front 5 was the norm for a long time. I have done my best to turn this around simply by being the person who volunteers to ring the tenor up - sometimes I have to ring up both the tenor (21cwt) and the 7 (13cwt). And then ring one of them for the whole session.

    I don't like ringing the front 6 of 8 (or any other ad-hoc non-standard selection of bells), because it sounds wrong, and I think that makes it harder to follow a method.
  • Susan Hall
    As Jonathan says, it's quite understandable if the ringers don't wish to ring large tenors for whatever reason. If we make up the numbers so that all of the bells can be rung, we sometimes very politely/tactfully ask/offer to raise/ring the back bells if they would like us to. At one tower we visited on holiday, some of the newer local ringers hadn't heard all 8 for a very long time and were absolutely amazed at how lovely they sound compared to the front 6!
  • Philip Pratt
    Is it worth having a chat to the tower captain about it on the quiet. For one of the reasons you come is to ring the back ones and you also like hearing a true ring of bells being rung. Whilst you're not a local you need to be sympathetic to the rest of the band, but if you're making a good contribution to their practice and making the difference towards things then that might help. It might also help to suggest it would be good to work towards getting the local band up to 8 bell ringing over the next 6 months and see what the TC says. It might be that the TC is inexperienced on 8 and feels out of their depth so there's possibly some encouragement to do there too.
  • DRD-mus
    Absolutely it is most satisfying, if you have an eight, to ring all of them, together, in methods. The front six, however, do have their own piquance - being the first, ascending, six notes of the (modern) Phrygian mode, which is, of course, a standard musical scale.

    If, in general, people are happier ringing six, then might it work, as a bridging idea to get to all eight (or at least the back six), to use the middle six? I.e., the Dorian mode (which is, potentially, a little more 'familiar', musically?
  • J Martin Rushton
    If you just need to get them used to the bigger bells, 3-7 makes a lovely minor key. Where I used to ring we used 3-7 half muffled for remembrance and funerals, which left the tenor open for tolling off the years after the funeral.
  • John de Overa
    We regularly use Musical Bell Combinations because we rarely have 8 ringers, we have the PDF version laminated and on the tower wall. The combinations for 5 bells are particularly useful, because an adjacent 5 out of 8 can sound rather strange. It also means that we can have light bells for those who need them, whilst still ringing the back bells (tenor is 17cwt).

    One reason back bells are often not rung is because of the mystique and bullshit that surrounds them, with only the Ringing Gods being permitted to ring The Mighty Tenor. If people don't get a chance to ring heavy bells and thereby learn the necessary technique then surprise, surprise, they will shy away from them and they won't get rung.
  • DRD-mus
    Where I started it was the norm, on this middling 10 (25cwt), to ring minor on the front six (which is, of course, a diatonic major and didn't unduly frighten the horses), or, sometimes on the back eight to triples of some sort. (It gave me a detestation of odd-bell methods. But that, of course, is just one person's feeling.) When a new, enthusiastic, and very experienced, tower captain arrived the entire atmosphere changed. We would rarely ring on the front, and only slightly more often odd-bell stuff on the back eight. Very rapidly, the band was strengthening with ringers from towers elsewhere, and we were rapidly onto royal, as such a tower should be.

    The impetus was that new tower captain.

    Enthusiasm for methods was the key. Quite quickly, several of us were visiting and assisting towers in the area, and joining the 'advanced' towers, too. Ringing at a practice each weekday, and peals put in as often as we could. Happily, there were plenty of eights, some 10s and some twelves to get to.
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