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The influx of new recruits over the last year has put much more load on our training resources as we help them to develop their skills. To use a cycling analogy it takes a while to progress from ‘bell handling’ (not falling off their bikes) to ‘bell control’ (manoeuvring accurately in traffic). It takes a lot of time, not just of instructors but of competent ringers to ring with the learners while they practice.
Monday practices have become much more lively, and we have extended them to give more time for basic exercises. We run extra sessions for those who can be available during the day and in some of these we use ringing simulators, where the learner rings with a band of ‘virtual ringers’ (all ringing perfectly). We also encourage our learners to attend monthly practices organised at other towers within Sonning Deanery.
In February we ran a listening course for our learners and invited participants from other towers to take part. To a non-ringer the idea of a listening course sound odd, but listening is a crucial skill for a ringer. Ideally ringing shoul might d have a completely even rhythm, but to make it sound like that to the listener each blow needs to be accurate to within a few hundredths of a second. That’s quite hard to achieve with half a ton of metal swinging at the other end of the rope. Each ringer needs to monitor the sound of his or her own bell within the sequence, and it’s harder than you might imagine – hence the benefit of practising it ‘off line’.
On a historical note, it was the difficulty of hearing the sound of the bells above the (louder) sound of music being rehearsed in church that prevented us ringing for some services before the screen was installed.
Anyone interested to see ringing in action, and how we train ringers, is welcome to visit us in the tower. For more information, see the website: allsaintswokinghambells.org.uk/ .
John Harrison (March 2017)
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