Bell ringing is nothing if it is not a public performance, especially when ringing for services. The complexity of the method rung entertains the ringer but it is the striking that makes the ringing appreciated by the public.
Other areas use striking competitions to provide a focus for striving to improve standards. In the Peterborough Branch, however, members have made it clear that competition is not viewed as the best way for us to increase our striking confidence.
When the committee proposed the idea of a training day, to specifically work on striking, it was met with enthusiasm within the branch. Preparations were therefore made, “experts” sourced, and candidates invited. At St Nicholas’ Bulwick on 5th April 2014 twelve branch members accepted the invitation to step into the unknown by attending a Striking Workshop.
It is an enormous challenge for a band to consistently produce twelve evenly spaced blows, followed by a hand stroke gap. We started by considering what ingredients are required to achieve this: avoiding an over reliance on ropesight; listening intently to the position of your bell within each change; advanced handling beyond that required just to competently ring; trusting your internal sense of the established rhythm; and being open to constructive criticism. Our experts then treated us to a demonstration of what near-perfect ringing sounds like setting the standard for the afternoon; followed by ringing with a common fault for comparison by “cartwheeling” i.e., ringing without a hand stroke gap.
A quiet corner is found to concentrate on listening to electronically generated faults. Is that the third that is early or the fourth that is late?
Part of the afternoon was spent by the participants listening to pre-recorded and electronically generated ringing with particular faults to identify. Could you identify a 10% timing fault? Identifying a gap was easier than identifying which bell was at fault. There were also examples of the syncopated rhythm that occurs in ringing when the bells coming in are late and bells going out are early. All this generated much discussion and hopefully trained our ears.
Formal feedback on the day was sought from the guinea pigs that participated and I’m pleased to say that everyone seemed to find it useful as well as enjoyable. Judging by the comments given the highlights of the afternoon were undoubtedly the opportunities to ring with our experts. Firstly ringing Rounds and Call Changes, then Change Ringing, our participants rang with the band with one member stepping out to stand behind them while offering constructive feedback to help refine their technique. The methods rung for the Change Ringing training ranged from plain hunt 5 to Cambridge Surprise Minor depending on the experience of the participant with the emphasis on achieving the best striking rather than stretching to a more complex method, just as one would on a Sunday morning.
Colin Weld being put through his paces by the “experts”
Enormous thanks should be extended to our resident expert band: John Riley, Robin and Judith Rogers, Derek Jones, Jim Benner and Andrew Parker; they all rang for the majority of the three hour session! Clearly their combined totals of 4862 peals had prepared them well for such a marathon. Although they denied they should be termed “experts” they did us proud. Thanks also to Sally Collop, Sue Jones, David and Pat Teall for helping with organisation and the much needed half-time refreshments.