The Tower Handbook

11.6 Teaching to ring with others

a: When should we let learners ring with other ringers?

When they have gained good enough control of the bell to be able to ring at a steady speed set by someone else. They won't be perfect at first, but you should wait until they have a reasonable chance of succeeding. They will gain most out of the experience if they can keep themselves more or less in place by their own efforts. Drifting through the other bells out of time will help neither them nor the other ringers and excessive intervention by a minder to keep the bell in place means the learner is not really ringing it. The minder is really ringing the bell (and the learner).

b: What should learners do before ringing rounds with others?

They should have rung at different speeds. Many teachers concentrate on ringing the bell just beyond the balance so that it can be set at every stroke and neglect teaching the skill of ringing just below the balance without letting the bell drop. As a result, the learners have great difficulty keeping up with the speed of the other bells. They should have rung to an external beat of some sort (another bell or a simulator) so they can monitor whether their bell is in the right place and make corrections.

With some simulators, you can introduce other bells progressively, starting with ding dong and introducing additional bells as the learner gets used to them. If your learner is well prepared in this way, the only novelty of communal ringing is the existence of the other ringers (who probably won't ring quite as regularly as the simulator!)

c: With how many bells should a learner first ring rounds?

You want enough other bells to provide a good robust framework, but you don't want so many that the sound of one bell is hard to identify among the others. Five is a good number, with the learner ringing the 3rd. Don't be afraid to use the front five of a six or eight for practice purposes, in order to give the learner an easier time.

d: Should individual tuition continue after ringing with others?

Yes, for two reasons. Think about the amount of time learners will spend on the end of a rope. In a typical hour and a half practice, they may ring four times (if they are lucky) for five minutes each. That will take up nearly a third of the practice and you will need to cater for other people's needs as well. You may be able to extend this time, perhaps by having another learners' practice on another evening.

Sessions devoted to the individual (or a few) can still be valuable in terms of time and attention, at a much lower cost in terms of other ringers' time. Ringing with one other ringer [134] (different speeds, dodging, raising and lowering) or with a simulator will all help develop the skills that can be applied in communal ringing. You will also find it much easier to stop and discuss any problems, or perhaps work on a point of bell handling, if you are not holding up the rest of the main practice.

e: How can we maintain interest with long periods sitting out?

When learners start to attend normal practices, they spend a lot more time sitting out than they did during bell handling tuition. Even with only a few of them, in an average tower they will sit out far more than they ring [135]. Pupils can use time not spent ringing during a practice in many ways. They can follow bells to develop listening and ropesight as described in other sections. They can begin to explore the theory of ringing, for example by writing out plain hunt, working out the blue lines of simple methods and so on.

The most important ingredient is your encouragement. Many learners are content to sit and talk, or watch passively, unless you prompt them to do specific things, and then follow up by asking how they got on, what they have learnt and generally showing an interest. When they are sitting out they are still under your tuition, not in suspended animation. The Tutor's Handbook describes a scheme for integrating practical and theoretical instruction.

f: What problems do people have ringing with others?

Here are some of the commoner problems you may find, together with suggestions for the sort of advice you might give to help overcome them.

Problem Possible cause(s) Advice
Ringing too close a) Following the rope by eye and leaving too little gap.

b) Fear of getting left behind.

c) Continually struggling to keep the bell up, (eg catching the sally too soon or backstroke too short).
a) Listen to your bell and when it sounds right, you are the correct distance behind.
b) Don't rush. Remember to ring after it not with it.
c) See section 11.3w.
Ringing too wide a) Waiting until the rope in front has moved.

b) Rope too long, catching the sally too late, and/or pulling too hard - Difficulty bringing the bell back over the balance.
a) Listen to the gap. Ring closer and when it sounds right, you are the correct distance behind.
b) Shorten you rope a little (bring your hands up to the sally sooner) and don't pull so hard.
Problem Possible cause(s) Advice
Over correcting Drift early or late, eventually corrects the error but too much, too late, inducing an opposite error, etc. Listen and try to spot when you are starting to drift off. Make small corrections. When you are nearly in the right place, make a small reverse correction.
Bell dropping Rope too short
Failure to let the bell rise before pulling
Let out a little rope,
Let it rise before you pull.
Unexpected hold ups a) Rope too long, hands low on sally
b) Ringing passively

c) Letting the hands slide
a) Shorten your rope a little,
b) Don't let the bell ring you. Feel what it is doing and correct if it is not doing what you expect,
c) Don't let your hands slide. Bring them up in the same rhythm as the backstroke and then hold the rope firmly.
Odd striking Stroke mismatch See section 11.3w.
Over pulling Bell handling problems See section 11.3w.

g: Do learners need a minder when just ringing rounds?

Think about the learner's objective for the ringing. Is it just to fill in five minutes, or is it to practice and develop the learner's embryo skills, in which case having someone on hand to spot and advise on handling or striking problems as they arise is more beneficial than allowing the learner to ring to the end of the touch, ignorant of the problem (or at least of the cause) and developing bad habits by repeating whatever is wrong.

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