The Tower Handbook

11.12 Teaching conducting

a: Should we teach everyone to conduct?

You should be prepared to. Some of your ringers will not want to go very far, but give everyone the chance to develop the basics so they can competently look after the ringing in a simple touch. Many people assume that conducting is only for experts and so are afraid to try.

If everyone learns some sort of basic conducting while they are still learning other things, they will be more likely to develop their conducting later. If you do not encourage them to conduct anything, they may think of themselves as non-conductors, which will then become a self fulfilling prophecy

b: Why do so few people conduct?

Because they get into a vicious circle where they don't offer or get asked to conduct because they can't, and they can't because they never have any opportunity to learn. After a while they have convinced themselves they will never be able to conduct.

c: How can we teach conducting?

The most important steps are the first ones. Encourage your learners to call simple call changes as soon as they are confident and competent enough to ring their bells in the right place with a little brain capacity left over to think about something else. Just swapping themselves with a couple of other bells and back again and then calling stand is a good ice breaker. In their formative stages you have implanted the idea that it is natural for them to take charge of the ringing from time to time. From then on proceed as you would if teaching method ringing. Encourage small increases in difficulty preceded by a little theory and coaching, and followed by practice and further advice.

Remember, developing conducting skills, like developing any others, needs lots of opportunities to practise, so don't let your experienced conductors do all the conducting.

d: How many stages before you are a fully fledged conductor?

There is no answer to that question, since you can break down the progression in many different ways, and in any case who would agree what makes a fully fledged conductor? You could consider these steps as a framework against which to think about the development of your ringers.

There is enormous scope for different routes through this list depending on the amount of progress, what methods are tried, how much opportunity there is and so on. Many ringers will only want to go about half way down the list, but most should be capable of doing that and it will make them feel much more useful if they ever find themselves in charge of a ringing session, or find they are the most experienced person present.

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