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Learning to ring at All Saints

At All Saints we have a long tradition of training new ringers. In the last 35 years we have taught more than 60 people of all ages to ring. Not all of them stuck at it of course. Many of those we trained moved away to ring elsewhere, so our investment has helped ringing to thrive somewhere else, in the same way that we have benefited from experienced ringers who moved into Wokingham (30 of them over the same period).

In recent years we have had a steady trickle of people showing an interest in ringing and we haven’t actively recruited, and we have mostly taught one person at a time. People often learn better when they can share the experience with someone else at the same stage as themselves, and we would now like to train two or three people together. That means we need several people interested in learning a new skill.

What is involved in ringing? At the superficial level you turn up to ring regularly for services, practices and other events, but at a deeper level there’s a lot more to it – the challenge and satisfaction of gaining new skills, the sense of mastery feeling the movement of a bell weighing maybe half a ton and controlling it with minimal effort, the fascination of learning the intricacies of change ringing, and the comradeship of both the band and the wider ringing community.

What sort of person makes a good ringer? You don’t need to be musical but you do need a good sense of rhythm and the ability to listen carefully to the sound you are making. You need reasonable physical co-ordination, but you don’t need great strength – controlling a bell is about finesse and technique, not brute force. You need a degree of persistence, because it takes a while to learn, and you need to work through the early stages of learning to handle a bell until you develop a natural feel for it, which allows you to go on and learn more complex skills.

There’s a lot more on the tower website about ringing itself and about learning to ring at All Saints. If that excites your interest, the best way to get a better feel for what ringing is like, and what it could offer you, is to come along to a ringing practice, see for yourself, and discuss it with us. Tower website: allsaintswokinghambells.org.uk  Contact: 0118 978 5520 or foreman@allsaintswokinghambells.org.uk

John Harrison (July 2013)

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