• Simon Linford
    I saw a comment somewhere yesterday where someone was asking a question about what sort of practices to organise in the face I assume of poor support. The question was whether to focus on the people or the method.

    The St Martin's Guild stopped having general practices some time ago and now only has 'workshops' focused on a particular thing, and which there are focused on particular people as well. It came after we were finding that general practices in different places never really attracted the people who would have benefitted from them. On Wednesday this week I went to a treble dodging minor workshop with specific above and below works - only seven people there but extremely useful and focused.

    So are the days of the general branch/district practice over or are the still found to be useful?
  • A J Barnfield
    I think that open practices are useful as social events and for consolidation but not for teaching/training. This needs to be organised and structured. Open practices are generally viewed as a success if lots of people turn up and everyone has a go at something. But does anyone ever really learn anything much? Is "Next monthly practice Saturday week. Special method Rutland. All welcome." ever really worked?

    I think best start with your defined group (tower, branch, cluster, bunch of mates, whatever). Then get a grip of everyone's abilities, hopes and dreams. Establish what each individual could help with teaching and what each individual wants to learn and what help and support they need with that. Find out about peoples availability and so on. Then with this information create a development plan for each individual and a training structure to provide it. If any required T&D cannot be provided within you group look outside of it. Build a structure to suit people not have a structure and try to shove people into it. Polarised to make a point but, anyway, point made, I hope.
  • Peter Sotheran
    It largely depends on the level of the ringers and their local circumstances. Many times over the years I have encouraged some of my newer recruits to attend branch meetings specifically so that they can gain experience at ringing something that we don't have the optimum combination of ringers to attempt in our home tower. For instance, recruits who have mastered PB6 or Stedmn5 but would benefit from having a 'rock solid' band around them to try PB8 or Sted7.

    OTOH, my wife thoroughly enjoys attending a monthly Surprise Major practice to ring a specified SM method. To invert the old phrase, it's a case of courses for horses.
  • Simon Smith
    I think I agree with the horses for courses comment here. A lot of people are perfectly happy to ring practice and Sunday, if they get a go at something new, then that’s great. But I would agree that there are those of us keen to both progress others and ourselves. I like the sound of the tailored training plan, but before embarking on designing one I’d want to see some serious commitment and involvement from those it’s aimed at. It has to come from the individual, they need to really commit to it. I believe that you get out what you put in…
  • Alan C
    I guess ringers have just got out of a lot of habits during the pandemic.

    As a 'developing' ringer I find district/association practices quite intimidating. I have to admit to enjoying a 'beginners' outing where, outside the selfless and generous helpers, the ringers were all around a standard I could relate to.
  • John de Overa
    I think I've only been to a handful of district practices since I started, I too find them very intimidating and don't get much from them. Targeted sessions with a clear emphasis on training are much more appealing because you feel less of an "imposition" - I think that's a pretty universal feeling at my level and something that's badly underestimated by most branch officers. Targetted sessions aren't a panacea either though, they often appear to be aimed at the people running them - "Improve your Bristol Max" etc - rather than the "Coarse Ringers" like myself.

    Speaking of which, someone really needs to add a book to this series covering ringing ;-)
  • Samuel Nankervis
    At the Truro Guild, to encourage new people to attend our Guild AGM, we're having some training sessions before hand. One for bell handling, where towers can bring along their learners, and for people wishing to learn how to teach others. The other is how to raise and lower a bell, both individually and in Peal. Then lunch, followed by some general ringing in other towers, followed by the AGM and Tea, cakes, etc. This have the double bonus of getting 2 extra groups from a wider sect. of our members along to a Guild event, and it shows what the Guild can do for them.
    To make this work, so the day is not too long, we have had to drop the short church service we normally have during the day, however the service is still part of the various District Spring festivals they go to.
  • Samuel Nankervis
    A "Tailored training plan" has been mentioned. Sometimes, it can be good to get people interested in a "one off" event. Anything from bell handling, or a Doubles practise, upwards.
    That way, people don't feel pressured to commit their Saturday mornings or another evening for so many weeks. At the end, you ask if they enjoyed it? and if they did, would they like to come to another one next week? Before you know it, it's been going for several months. Just takes one person to organise and keep people informed.
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