When I decided to learn to ring nearly two years ago I did not know what to expect and how long it would take. Initially I went along early to a practice night at St Peter’s church in Kineton where I was given a tour of the bells and allowed to ring a couple of backstrokes on the silenced bells. After that I could only watch the more experienced ringers as they went about ringing all manner of complicated changes. I was sure it would take months of coming along and getting a few short goes on the end of the rope before I would be allowed to join in on an open bell “performance”.
However, this was not the case as the Ringing Centre in Kineton has a simulator which allows ringers to have a go on bells that are muffled with the sound being generated by a computer. I was therefore invited to take part in some intensive lessons where I received one on one instruction from the tower captain, Graham Nabb in bell handling. These sessions were all conducted on silenced bells so I could safely learn the necessary bell handling skills without annoying other ringers or more importantly the people living near to the church – I am sure that listening to an inexperienced ringer try to set the bell 10 times in a row hand AND back over and over again would soon alienate any locals! Moreover, knowing that no one could hear my 100th failed attempt at least lessened the frustration (a little).
After learning the basics of ringing a bell and coordinating both hand and backstrokes I was also able to practise ringing with other bells (where at least four bells were computer generated). Having access to practise for long sessions meant that I was able to solidify techniques quickly. This gave me the confidence required when it was finally time to ring with five other ringers on open bells at my first practice night just three weeks after my first tentative pull on a bell rope. I am sure that it would have taken months to get to this stage without the ability to have extended time on the end of the rope with only snatched goes in between more experienced ringers on a practice night.
The set up at the Edgehill Ringing Centre does not only benefit the rapid learning of the basic skills. It also enables ringers to have extended practice session when trying to learn new methods. The “moving ringers” were particularly useful in the development of that elusive “ropesight” when learning to ring the tenor behind for my first quarter peal.
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