Early Practice · 2012Jan31Tu

Three ringers:  Anne, Jody, Thomas.  Tonight’s theme was raising and lowering.

  • Raising
    • Long straight backstrokes
    • Let out rope slowly enough that your arms extend at the top
    • Once the handstroke starts, don’t be distracted by it — your backstrokes are doing nearly all the work
    • Power past the difficult spot (using your long straight backstrokes)
    • It’s not how hard you pull, it’s how much energy you can direct into to the bell
    • Good raising form is the same as good ringing form, just more vigorous
  • Lowering
    • Long straight (gentle) backstrokes
    • Check the bell’s rise firmly each time, but keep the subsequent pull as gentle as a feather — only enough to keep the rope straight
    • Keep your left hand crawling up the tail, then crawling up inside the coil(s)
    • Your right hand’s job is to make long straight pulls, especially backstrokes
    • Your left hand’s job is to manage the coils
    • The trickiest time is taking the first coil.  Take the coil with your left hand while keeping the rope moving vertically with your right hand;  if you need to, miss the next catch but get that coil taken and keep the rope vertical.
    • Stop pulling the handstroke when it gets small;  you should have stopped before you take the second coil.  Then focus on checking and long straight backstrokes.
    • Check through the difficult spot, focusing on your backstrokes
    • Good lowering form is the same as good ringing form, just less vigorous
  • Both
    • Long straight backstrokes
    • Stay high enough on the tail for your arms to extend at the top
    • Extend at the bottom:  start as soon as you can while raising, continue as long as you can while lowering
    • Get through the difficult spot

Anne, who arrived first, raised and lowered the 2 twice and the 4 once.  Jody raised and lowered the 2.

In addition, the three ringers rang rounds at several speeds to give Anne practice controlling her speed and fitting into a band.  Anne also worked on holding the bell at the balance at each handstroke.

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Oiling the clapper joints

Oiling a clapper joint

The joint on which each clapper swings in its staple bolt has been oiled.  Several clappers were noisy, and the 3’s in particular groaned loudly enough to be audible in the ringing chamber, though we didn’t realize it was the clapper.  All are quieter now, though the 2, 3, and 5 will need more attention, possibly with something like WD-40 that can be sprayed more effectively into the joint.

Rust inside the 3

Oiling the clapper joints is not difficult but it is dirty and messy.  The space for the smaller bells is so narrow it is difficult to squeeze in to get under the bell and reach up;  the larger bells have plenty of side-to-side space, but are so close to the floor it is difficult to slide under them.  Ordinary engine oil is used, and drops of it seem to get everywhere, particularly on the person wielding the pump oiler.

From this perspective it was obvious why the bells should never be left up, particularly during a rain:  water gets in them and the bolts rust.  The worst rust was inside the 3, and not surprisingly its clapper groaned loudest of the eight.  Depending on what further investigation shows, it may be necessary to replace some or all of the four bell bolts supporting the bell, and possibly also the staple bolt itself, which would have to be ordered from Whitechapel.  Several other bells show rust inside, though the 3 has the worst.

New ringer Anne graduates

Anne is a new ringer no longer;  she is now safe to ring without a spotter.  Anne began learning to ring just before Thanksgiving and required about a dozen classes to reach this point.  Instead of classes she will henceforth come to Early Practice to work on specific skills, and stay on for regular practice where she will continue working on ringing rounds, then move on to call changes, tenoring behind, and so forth on the way to ringing methods.

Congratulations, Anne, and welcome to the band!

New ringers class · 2012Jan30Mo

Sixth class for new ringer Carroll.  She continues to make steady progress and is acquiring a very good ringing form.  Today the focus was on handstrokes;  she pulled every third handstroke in order to have time to reflect after each one, then ever second handstroke to get more pulls, and finally every handstroke in order to simply do it rather than think about it.

Second class for new ringer Nancy.  Focus was on cleaning up her ringing form, primarily working on the backstroke followed by a quarter-hour on handstrokes.  She tends to stand back from the rope, which hinders her ringing.  Good progress.

Thirteenth and final class for new ringer Anne.  For this final class Anne worked on the skills that will be her focus over the couple of months.

  • Setting the bell at every handstroke;  longest run was 5 consecutive sets.
  • Holding the bell at the balance at consecutive handstrokes.  This is more challenging;  longest run was 3 consecutive handstrokes at the balance.
  • Ringing at different speeds.  She rang to a metronome, aiming to strike on every other click, over the range of 57 to 63 beats per minute, corresponding to 28.5 to 32.5 strokes per minute.  Ringing to a metronome lets a ringer practice most of the skills needed for ringing rounds without having to have four or more experienced ringers on hand.
  • Raising and lowering.  Anne lowered the 2, then raised and lowered it twice more, and finished by lowering the 4 then raising and lowering it again.

Next class for Carroll and Nancy is We 1 Feb 5:15 and 6:15, followed by Eoin’s next class at 7:15.  Barbara’s next class is either Fr 3 Feb if she can arrange the time, or Su 5 Feb.

New ringers class · 2012Jan29Su

Eleventh class for new ringer Eoin.  Eoin rings each stroke quite well by itself, with admirable form.  But he struggles with each one when they are combined (not unusual for a new ringer).

  • He is overpulling both strokes, thus working way too hard yet finding the bell is still ringing down.
  • When he is pulling the strokes individually, both backstrokes and handstrokes are good, but when he pulls both strokes, he chokes them.  He needs to let both strokes rise.
  • He is not reliably extending at the top and at the bottom of every stroke even when pulling only backstrokes or only handstrokes.
  • He has developed a pernicious habit of picking up the tail after the sally release by reaching way over with his right hand to pick up the tail on the outside of his left hand, rather than keeping right on left, flicking wrists and extending down, and just closing his fingers.  This bad habit has to stop.

Between now and his next class he will think about the three things he needs to do when combining both strokes:

  1. Gentle, gentle pull.
  2. Extend downward at the bottom of both strokes.  Flick wrists and push with thumb for the backstroke;  follow through, extend down, and pick up the tail for the handstroke.
  3. Let both arms rise and extend up at the top of both strokes.

Eoin’s next class is a full hour, which will help.

Tenth class for new ringer Barbara.  Barbara is ringing both strokes together fairly well, at least until her bell starts to ring down.

  • Like Eoin, she is overpulling and checking.  As a result, the bell inevitably rings down and rings faster.  When this happens, she has a tendency to panic rather than remembering “long straight pull” and doing so.

Barbara and Eoin are to practice the inverse-tug-of-war exercise with their practice rope at home.  The goal is to keep that tiny tension in the rope at all times, and get the feel of that small degree of pull in their muscles so they can sense it and pull it while ringing a bell.

Update:  Eoin’s younger brother Liam (5) attended part of Barbara’s lesson.  When she picked him up from school the next day, he announced he wants to learn to ring too when he is old enough.

Next class for Eoin is 7:15 We 1 Feb, preceded by Carroll and Nancy at 5:15 and 6:15.  Next class for Barbara is possibly Fr 3 Feb.  Next class for Carroll and Nancy is 3 and 4pm Mo 30 Jan, followed by Anne’s last class as a new ringer at 5pm.