Brian and Barbara are Moresby ringers I have taught from scratch. Barbara started with dumbbells before tower bells were installed, and she became a neat ringer with good striking. Brian started a long time after the main band but quickly showed good understanding. When we had to stop ringing in the tower, I started Ringing Room practices and then with the help of Ian Mills, invited Barbara, and later Brian as well, to try handbell ringing. Ian was willing to teach her, with me filling the gaps. We now have two sessions a week. Ian is the main teacher, and I lead the other session, with a friend helping. Brian and Barbara are both are doing well, though differently, on different pairs and touches. I can’t wait to see how it impacts on tower bell ringing when the time comes!
Barbara writes: Being a Ringing Remembers recruit, I still feel new to the world of bell ringing. Then, when everything stopped in March, we were all new to the weekly Ringing Room sessions set up by Chris de Cordova. A few weeks into the lockdown, Chris asked if I would like to have a go at learning hand bells using Ringing Room. As I had lots of extra time on my hands I thought I would give it a go. So along with Ian, a ringing friend of Chris’, we agreed to meet one Sunday evening via Zoom.
I was not very good at working out where I needed to be with one bell so having to master the position of two was a challenge. I found it quite difficult at first. At my age it takes time for things to sink in, but Chris and Ian were very patient. Brian, another of our band of ringers, has also started to learn handbells as well and this has helped me because I get the chance of watching while Brian has a go and I can then watch the patterns.
Ringing Room is a wonderful way of learning as it allows me to focus on the position of the bells and the patterns they are making without having the added pressure of controlling your bell, which has a tendency to do its own thing when you don’t pay attention. Something I realised early on is that ringing has a language all of its own, so I was particularly pleased with myself on one of our sessions recently when I understood the instruction ‘make seconds and ring long fifths’. Small triumphs matter.
Learning via Zoom does have its unique problems. My cat thinks she can do it better and often feels the need to join in, walking over the keyboard and getting in the way of the screen. You can get very immersed in what you are doing and I have been in trouble with my husband on several occasions because I was late for tea!
Brian writes: I don’t know how good I will be when it comes to actual handbells, as all my experience so far has been using virtual bells!
I started learning to ring at St Bridget’s church, Moresby in Cumbria, in 2019 but my progress was very ‘stop start’ as I was spending a lot of time looking after my parents. I could ring rounds and some call changes but not much more. When tower bell ringing ceased in March I soon realised that virtual ringing was a lot easier than the real thing and hoped that our group would take up the challenge.
When I was first asked if I wanted to do handbell ringing, I thought ─ why not? Our ringing friends Ian, Jane and Chris have given up their time to help us learn which I much appreciate. We used Tadhill ringing software to practise and I have now learned all about Plain Bob Minor and the three different patterns needed to complete a course. I thought I was making good progress until the single and the bob were introduced. I searched on online for explanations but discovered that bell ringing jargon was not my type of vocabulary! My teacher, Chris, did send me an explanation which helped. I now need to put this into my memory bank so that the ringing part becomes fun again and less stressful ─ that is the joy of learning. I am also learning to ring Plain Hunt on eight, ringing bells 3 and 4. I am now beginning to get the hang of the vocabulary.
As always, when you ring with people that know what they are doing they make it look easy. I just hope that one day I can be that person that helps the next beginner. I also hope that when we go back to real ringing that the virtual world is not abandoned. It is a good learning tool and I have increased my understanding over the last few months. I am a much better ringer in the virtual world than the real world but time will tell if those skills are easily transferable.
Chris de Cordova, Moresby, Cumbria