Why do ringers enjoy ringing?

Most ringers who persevere do so because they find something in ringing that motivates them. The ART Conference survey shows that these ringing teachers enjoyed ringing and the challenges that it threw at them. It was that that got them hooked. The trick for you is to find out what makes each of your ringers tick and give them plenty of opportunities to tick that box.

At the 2017 ART Conference a selection of ringing teachers (sample size = 83) were asked what made them keep ringing. These were ringers who were mainly recruited in the 1960s and 1970s, so we are going to follow this up with an online poll of Learning the Ropes ringers who have mainly been recruited during the past five years. Watch this space!

Current Teachers
New Ringers
Enjoy ringing 35%

The challenge 35%
The social side 13%
Family 13%
Duty to the Church
Community (want people to hear the bells) -

What keeps people ringing is different to what made them come to the tower in the first place (family and friends). It is easy to see why some people give up even if you’re the best teacher in the world and the band the most welcoming. Ringing isn’t what they thought it was and quite honestly although it was an enjoyable experience, it wasn’t quite right for them.

When someone goes through a low patch try everything you can to get them through it, but if someone seems to be going through a long series of low patches maybe it is time to let them go gracefully, and let them be advocates of ringing and your tower. As a teacher, don’t take it personally.

What motivates ringers?

Ringers are motivated in different ways. Some love to come along to focus on their own personal progress with change ringing, others feel that helping teach others is highly rewarding. Some ringers come for the mental challenge of method ringing, others enjoy ringing at a more basic level and like the social side. There are also some people who don’t prioritise personal advancement but just like to come and ring for services.

Including a social element to your practices can be a big help and make the difference between someone wrapping up in lots of layers and turning up on a cold winter’s night to feeling that it’s very warm and cosy at home, that ‘they’ll probably have enough to ring without me’.

Going to the pub after practice, remembering people’s birthdays (bring cake to practice!), an annual group outing, team t shirts for the striking competition, a barbeque, a quiz team and a Christmas get together are all ways to help people feel connected to the group. There are plenty of social events and activities organised for young ringers, but team spirit is just as important for adults too. Enter striking competitions, run open days and fundraising events, attempt quarter peals, have picnics, play board games and get together as a team outside the tower.

Academics have studied the deeper reasons for people participating in hobbies and pastimes and this can be applied to bell ringing and bell ringers. Why not have a look at each of the ringers in your band, see what motivates them and how you can give them with more opportunities to feel fulfilled.

Affiliation – feeling part of a group

A desire to have positive and friendly relationships with others; to be part of a group. Such ringers will be loyal Sunday Service ringers but may not be motivated to progress very far with learning methods. You should ensure they feel a valued member of the band, perhaps having a special role, be it formal, such as Social Secretary or informal, such as having responsibility for opening up for visiting ringers or winding the church clock.

Mastery – being very good at what they do

Such ringers wish to improve their skills, master new skills and generally pursue excellence. These ringers want to do something well for its own sake. This is the group from whom our expert ringers are likely to develop. These ringers will be keen to improve their striking, and they will respond well to goals, such as ringing quarter peals and peals.

Sensation – enjoying the physical side of ringing

These ringers gain their pleasure from the very act of ringing bells. You should take these ringers to other towers or to group practices and later should arrange outings and tours for them. When more experienced, learning a variety of new methods will hold their interest.

Self-direction – want to be in charge

Ringers who fall into this category wish to feel a sense of control or to be in charge. You should provide a position of responsibility or create a situation where they have certain decision making powers – standing behind less experienced ringers, calling things or organising quarter peals or social events.

Social comparison – want to be the best

Such people participate in an activity because it provides them with an opportunity to compare themselves with others. These people are most happy when they can demonstrate that they are better than somebody else. These ringers will enjoy striking competitions and enjoy being high up on the annual list of peal ringers. They may seek out an environment where they are able to demonstrate that they are better than others and may prefer to be a “big fish in a small pond”.


What's next?

» Return to the recruitment and retention home page

» Intensive training – why, what and how

» Lots of ideas for getting people into the tower