The Tower Handbook

11.7: Teaching to ring called changes

a: When should we teach call changes?

When the learner can handle the bell well enough in rounds to stay in the right place most of the time and can spot and correct his or her errors reasonably quickly. Without this basic ability to ring in the same place, trying to ring in different places will just add to the confusion. But don't insist on perfection before moving on. Very often the stimulus of doing something new helps maintain the effort to improve.

b: How should we prepare learners for call changes?

Make sure your learner knows what is supposed to happen. It is easy for experienced ringers to skip the explanation because it seems 'obvious'. It is neither simple nor obvious when you have not done it before. The basic theory is simple but it can become complicated and/or mystifying if you don't think carefully before trying to explain it. Explain about:

You will notice that we did not start with a list of rules for who should follow which bell in what circumstance. If people don't understand what is happening a string of rules is hard to remember. If they do understand, they can often work them out for themselves.

c: Is there any pencil and paper work for call changes?

Yes. Rather than telling people rules for which bells to follow, let them write out various different changes and work out what effects they have on the bells affected. This is a much more reliable way of learning, a bit like writing out methods when learning them. Get them to think about what happens to the places the bells are in as well as which bells are followed.

d: Does it matter which way we call the changes?

Yes and no. It certainly matters that you all agree on how to do it [137]. It is also a good idea if what your ringers learn in their home tower can be applied when they visit other towers.

People use different systems. Some are better than others, but all can be made to work. Your tower will probably continue the way it always has, but bands can change. We won't recommend a 'best method', since whatever we recommended would offend those who swear by one of the other methods, but the main pros and cons are shown in the table below.

Technique (eg to get 132456 from rounds) Pro Con
Calling up (2 to 3) Only bells mentioned move Sounds like calling down
Calling down (3 to 1) Bell pulling in told who to follow Sounds like calling up
An unmentioned bell moves.
Calling pairs (2 and 3) Only bells mentioned move Easier to call since either order is correct. [138] Gives less information
Calling pair order (3 2) Only bells mentioned move. Tells new order
Calling all affected
(3 to 1, 2 to 3, 4 to 2)
Everyone affected is told who to follow. Complicated and encourages laziness and lack of place awareness.
Calling in sequence (next or change) Caller need not keep track of what is happening Everyone must know the sequence, cannot change sequence in mid stream.
Calling the whole row (132456) The only one we can think of is that it would be comprehensible to a non ringer! It is a mouthful and everyone has a lot of mental work to do to work out who to follow and whether to move or not.

The last two are probably much less common.

e: Should we add extra information when calling?

If it will help. In most of the calling methods some ringers must work out some information for themselves. An inexperienced or nervous ringer may find this hard. You must decide on each occasion whether progress (and the striking if you are ringing for a service) will best be served by holding back until things go wrong or giving extra information in the call. If you do give extra information, make it sound different, eg '4 to 3, 3 following 2' rather than '4 to 3, 3 to 2' which is less clear about which pair are actually changing. In many cases with an inexperienced ringer, telling them the action will be more effective in helping them to prepare for the change, eg. '4 to 3, 3 pull in over 2' or '4 to 3, hold up 4'

One very common practice is adding 'lead' when swapping the lead pair calling 'up' (eg from 231456 calling '2 to 3 lead') whether it is needed or not. (They give no additional information for other changes.) Some novices need reminding that the 3 must lead, but they may also need telling that the 4 must follow the 3 if '1 to 4' was called. It would be more rational to give no extra information unless it was needed.

f: Do people need a minder when ringing call changes?

Ringing call changes for the first time can be very daunting. Having someone nearby in case they need advice helps give confidence. And confidence is an essential ingredient of good ringing.

g: How often should I call a change?

It depends on the band. With a good band, you can call changes every handstroke. This is lively, produces more varied music and keeps the ringers on their toes. Less experienced ringers may need longer to get their bearings after each change so they know the bell(s) in front of and behind them. Changing too rapidly will merely lead to more mistakes and spoil the striking. Very inexperienced ringers may not make the change very accurately and need a little (or a lot) of time to settle into the new position. Try to get back to a reasonably steady rhythm before moving on.

h: Does dodging count as call changes?

Calling a pair of bells to dodge continually for a while can add variety both for the ringers doing the dodging and for those listening. You can obtain pleasing effects if the dodge produces a particularly musical row at backstroke, for example

  (h) xxxxx768
  (b) xxxxx678


  (h) xxxxx648
  (b) xxxxx468

i: How can we prevent boredom in call changes?

Vary what you call, vary who calls it, call rapid changes sometimes (every whole pull). Call some pairs to dodge.

j: What exercises can supplement practice in call changes?

You can encourage people to rehearse the mental aspects while not ringing. Get them to watch the ringing and ask questions like 'Who is the 3rd following?', 'Who is two in front of the 5th?', 'If I called 3 and 4 what would Mary do?' Alternatively, have someone stand by you while you ring call changes and tell you whether to move, if so which way and who you are following, at each call. Then ask which bell is after you, which in front and the one in front of that. See section 11.9g, exercise 2.

k: Is call change ringing a dead end for method ringers?

Only if you make it into one. Call changes can be very musical. More than one change called every whole pull can be quite demanding of concentration. Striking call changes accurately requires similar handling skills to method ringing. Ringing an inside bell of an eight with rounds to Queens to Tittums to rounds called in whole pulls with multiple changes per call involves 12 speed changes in 18 rows. Plain hunting the treble only needs four speed changes in 16 rows.

l: Does cartwheel ringing improve call changes?

Cartwheel ringing and call changes are often found together, but that does not mean one causes the other. If your band is used to ringing with open leads they will find it difficult to adapt to closed handstroke ringing. Many people fail to open every handstroke properly, but that is not the same as everyone ringing them closed accurately. Why not try cartwheel ringing for variety some time?

m: What is the next step after call changes?

For most ringers call changes are a step on the way to ringing methods. But don't make it a giant step. Covering lets ropesight and listening progress without having to master hunting at the same time. It introduces the need to pick out a succession of different bells being followed, rather than occasional changes. It encourages listening for one's bell when the audible sequence is continually changing. It still requires accurate compensation for any errors to stay in the right place.

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