The Tower Handbook
As soon as possible. If you teach bell handling starting 'bell up' it will be a few lessons before you can start raising and lowering, but you can progress to it as soon as your pupil is handling the bell with little intervention from you. If you teach starting 'bell down' (which is the norm in some areas) then learning to raise and lower is a natural progression from the first lesson.
Raising and lowering helps develop skills which are vital for general bell control, because you have to control the bell under a wide range of different conditions. For safety, most bells should be left down when not in use, so raising and lowering should be a natural part of the band's capability. That means learners should learn it along with everything else. In any case, someone may need to lower a bell in an emergency.
They do not learn early enough, and get to the stage where they are embarrassed they cannot do it and so never try. They cover their feeling of inadequacy by saying how difficult is. It is more difficult than just ringing a bell that is up, and it involves more effort on heavy bells. But anyone who can control a bell well should have no difficulty, given some practice. Those that do not have full mastery over their bells would have to confront the weaknesses in their technique, and thus acquire a broader range of bell control skills by learning to raise and lower in peal. It is sad that some ringers are fearful of trying something that many ordinary ringers consider a routine part of normal ringing competence.
Raising and lowering normally only happens once in a session and since you want a good start and finish it is natural to ask those that are good at it to ring. Some towers leave their bells up regularly, giving even less opportunity for practice. On practice night, you should certainly be prepared to put in less experienced people, as you would with any other touch. You could occasionally devote a whole practice, or part of one, to raising and lowering. This will give more people more opportunity to practise. It will also allow them to try again while the experience of what went wrong the previous time is still fresh in their minds.
As with any teaching, start by explaining what will happen and why. Then take it in stages. You can adapt these to the needs of your pupil, but one scheme is:
As soon as they can raise and lower a bell unaided and can ring rounds reliably, they can move on to raising and lowering with others.
Do it in easy stages, and explain what happens at each stage. Start with two bells only (silenced if necessary). Fewer bells means less confusion, and the other ringer can adapt a little to avoid the learner getting too far out of place. Move on to three or four bells. You can often do this at the start of a practice night if only a few of you are there, repeating it if there is time.
Emphasise the importance of listening to all the bells, and looking at all the ropes while ringing very steadily.
Even if you would raise 1,3 and 5 for musical effect when raising three, (of a six), use 1, 2 and 3 for initial raising practice. One of the more difficult aspects of raising and lowering in peal is accommodating the weight range of the bells. Using 1,2,3 will minimise this problem in the early stages. See also: Raising and Lowering in Peal or Raising and Lowering.
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