The Tower Handbook

10.1: The tower and bells

a: What makes bells suitable for teaching on?

Ideally, you would teach initial bell handling on an easy-going bell, with a short draught of 'well-behaved' rope (that falls predictably without swinging sideways or kicking). Adjust the rope (preferably not too new or too stiff) to a suitable length. If a learner has small hands, try to use a bell with a relatively thin sally.

b: What makes bells less suitable for learning?

The opposite of the conditions above. Also, teaching handling on heavy bells may be difficult and require extra care because it could be hard for you to 'catch' any over-pulling. Teaching on extremely light bells may also require special care, because it will be very easy to bang the stay excessively. But if you teach on a bell that is very different from the bells the learner will move on to for the next stages, this may not prove to be the best preparation. Some people argue that if you learn on a difficult bell, you will be able to ring anywhere.

The counter argument says learning to ring is hard enough under ideal conditions so we shouldn't make it any harder. There is a parallel with learning to drive. The first car many people will own is an old banger, but driving schools use the most modern cars they can get. You can get the best of both worlds by teaching on easy bells first and progressively moving your learners on to more difficult bells (in other towers if need be) in the later stages of their training - a bit like being coached for the Advanced Driving Test.

c: What is the ideal ringing chamber?

One that is comfortable, light and with enough space for standing behind and sitting out. It will be well stocked with teaching aids.

d: How can we make the best of the ringing chamber we have?

It all depends on what you have! See section 6 on useful things to have.

e: Should we have a tower library?

It need not be as grand as this sounds, but having a wide selection of books about ringing available in the tower means many more of your ringers (especially the less experienced ones) are likely to look at them. What they read will complement your verbal instruction and practical tuition. While encouraging them to obtain ringing books of their own, and to read out of the tower, you must be realistic and recognise that only the more enthusiastic will do so and therefore what is in the tower has an important role to play. See also section 2 for lists of ringing publications.

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