The Tower Handbook
13.2: Learning to ring with other ringers
a: What should I be trying to do?
Ringing with other people is a big step. If you have already rung with a simulator you will have mastered the first half of this step which is ringing to a fixed speed set by someone else, rather than just aimlessly swinging the bell. When ringing with others there is a lot happening, visually and aurally, and there are lots of people who will see how well or how badly you ring. Don't let it overwhelm you. Important things to remember are:
- Try to ring tidily and steadily - don't do anything suddenly.
- Try not to drift too far out of place before making a correction.
- Always make small corrections. You can make another next time if it is not enough, but if you over correct you will build up more problems for yourself.
- Remember that the aim of ringing with other people is to produce good striking, so try to be aware of your striking from the start.
- But don't expect to be perfect first time. Always try to do a little better but feel pleased about what you have achieved.
- Get as much practice as possible - with other people around you striking well.
b: What should I do if the bell in front is in the wrong place?
Keep going. Its better to have one bell wrong than two. If you try to get out of the way, you then cause a problem for the bell following you. Trying to make last minute changes always makes the ringing less steady, especially if you are inexperienced. Remember you are all trying to ring with an even rhythm. If you keep jumping around to avoid each other, you will never achieve it.
c: What should I do if I get lost?
Don't panic – see picture
- Keep going.
If you weren't lost on the blow before, you might be somewhere near the right place.
- Try to see (or hear) what is happening before making corrections.
Correcting blindly could make things worse.
- If you are sure you are wrong, try to see which way you need to go.
Sometimes you can hear a crunch but aren't sure whether you are wide or close.
- If you know which way to go, apply a modest correction at first.
Then see whether you need another.
- If you know you were drifting one way before you felt lost, try to go in the reverse direction.
This will limit the damage while you decide what to do next.
- If you have drifted out of the row, get back in as quickly as possible.
Out of the row means below first place or above last place. You can quickly find yourself on the wrong stroke which is very disorienting.
- If you know your speed is wrong, correct that first.
If you catch your rope and partly drop the bell, there is no point worrying what place you are in until you have got the bell up again so you are ringing at about the same speed as everyone else.
d: What pitfalls should I try to avoid?
There are three problems people sometimes have when learning to ring with other people. The first two are at opposite ends of a spectrum so it is usually one or the other, but not both. The third can be combined with either.
- Under reacting
If you concentrate on your bell handling to the exclusion of all else (as you may have been doing during bell handling lessons), then instead of fitting into the sequence, you may drift aimlessly through it.
- Over reacting
If you make disproportionately large corrections every time you detect a tiny error (or suspected error) you will often over correct and prevent yourself developing much rhythm. This often happens when ringing 'by eye'  (but it can happen with a simulator even though there is no ropesight).
- Not adjusting speed
If you find yourself continually having to hold up (or pull in) to stay in the right place, then your natural speed is wrong. Unless you do something about the speed, you will keep fighting the bell to put it in the right position. Adjust your rope, stance and grip to bring your 'zero effort speed' close to the speed of the ringing. See section 13.3g.
When ringing with others you may find that any bell handling problems get worse, especially at first. The same thing may also happen when you ring on strange bells. If you are not sure what the problem is, or if you are not sure how to cure it, then ask someone experienced to look at you ringing and advise you.
e: How do I cope with odd struck bells?
It depends on whether the odd struck bell  is your own or someone else's.
- If your own bell is odd struck
You need an uneven rhythm to compensate. Ring one stroke more quickly than the other. Check your compensation by listening. You must adjust your ropesight to allow for the fact your rope will look too close at one stroke and too wide at the other when you are striking correctly. This may put other people off, but try not to let it affect you.
- If other people's bells are odd struck
Don't adjust your rhythm. Continue to ring evenly, but be aware of the effect on your ropesight. When striking correctly over the odd struck bell(s), your rope will appear close at one stroke and wide at the other. Resist the temptation to make corrections based on these misleading appearances.
f: Which way should I face?
It is very tempting to face the bell you are following, but don't. You should have been told to face the middle of the rope circle, and there is a good reason for this. You need to be aware of what all the bells are doing, especially when you come to ring call changes and methods. Get into the habit of always facing the centre, and you will be less likely to cause yourself problems later by looking at the wrong bells.
Currently hosted on jaharrison.me.uk