Wedding ringing · 2012Mar31Sa

Two of our ringers were wedding ushers

Seven ringers (one more than expected):  Jody, Jim, Judy, Ken, Marguerite, Rob, Thomas.  We rang 1234568 (F-E-D-C-B-A-F).

The front 6 had been raised before the wedding so we could launch straight into our best ringing.  After the cue, Jim raised the tenor while the front six rang rounds—a surprisingly euphonious combination—and we then rang the 36 Changes with two covers.  It was some of the best ringing the band has done recently.

Two of the ringers were ushers for the wedding, and set a new, dashing standard for ringing attire!

Loose staple bolt nuts

This morning when checking the tenor’s rope I noticed the tenor was striking twice for each stroke.  When I lowered the bell and climbed up to look, I found its staple bolt nuts were not tight.  The staple bolt could wander and turn while the tenor was ringing.  I realigned the tenor’s clapper and tightened both nuts.

I went round the ring checking the other staple bolts.  Two more were loose (on the 2 and 7) so I tightened them.  Remembering the weeks-long trial with the 5, I checked for rust on each bolt, and found plenty;  several of the lock nuts were rusted in place severely enough that a struggle was needed to loosen them even with the long wrench.

I took off each lock nut, wire-brushed the bolt’s threads clear of rust (down to the lower nut at least), wiped everything off, and worked molybdenum disulphide paste into the threads by back-and-forth spinning the nuts all the way down, to keep them from rusting solid over time.

Bellrope ends eroding

Most of the rope ends are wearing away to dust between the two seizings, with the 3’s and the tenor’s eroded down to less than half the original diameter.  The tenor’s has been so weakened that I threw on a third seizing in case the end actually breaks off and the rope has to retucked immediately.

Ringers can help by not bending the ends back when raising, lowering, or ringing, and by not retucking any rope.

It’s not clear what should be done to deal with this;  perhaps each rope can be given a third seizing, the original end cut off, and the new end retucked between the two remaining seizings.  The original ends appear to have been finished with a crown knot, and the new ends can be finished the same way at the expense of a couple of inches of rope and new seizings.

Is it time to order a new set of bellropes?

Bellrope adjustment round 7

The ropes of all eight bells have been adjusted to put the bottom of each sally ~65″ from the floor when set at hand, and the end of the tai ~76″ from the floor when set at back.  Now none but our tallest ringers should need to take a knot, and our shortest ringers can reach all the sallies and all the tails.

The most substantial changes this week are:

  • The 6’s sally is about an inch lower, and its tail an inch higher.
  • The 7’s tail is 2½” lower
  • The tenor’s tail is a full 10½” lower.

The tenor’s rope is taking longer to settle into its new position than the others.  It will be readjusted over the next several weeks after it has settled and reliable measurements can be taken.

Current heights of sally set at hand and tail set at back
Bell 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Set at hand 65″ 65″ 65″ 65″ 65″ 65” 65” 66¼”
Set at back 75¾” 75½” 75½” 76″ 76″ 76″ 75¾” 77¾”
2011Nov28 heights of sally set at hand and tail set at back
Bell 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Set at hand 63¼” 64¼” 67″ 67″ 71″ 66¼” 65½” 66¾”
Set at back 77″ 75″ 81½” 71¾” 75″ 75″ 78¼” 88¼”

New ringers class · 2012Mar28We

Twentieth class for new ringer Carroll.  She rang the 4.  She is on the verge of having everything come together so she can ring reliably.  Focus today was on the left hand follow-through after the release:  if the wrist flicks and directs the rope down, the right hand can make a quick clean pickup.  She needs to get her left wrist to flick.  In decreasing order of urgency:

  • Left wrist flick at bottom of handstroke.
  • Vertical pull, no throwing out, good follow-through on both strokes, so the rope flows straight down and then straight back up again.
  • All ten fingers around the rope and the sally.

For next time:

  1. Strengthen the grip of all ten fingers by gripping a rolled towel as if it were a bell rope or sally, right hand over left, and squeezing.
  2. Practice aligning the left and right hands vertically as though the rope were stiff.

Eoin’s forearm-rotation left wrist flick might work well for Carroll (see below);  we’ll try it next time.

Nineteenth class for new ringer Eoin.  He rang the 4.  Focus today was on cleaning up a few things that are blocking his progress.  Main focus was on the bottom of the handstroke.

  • Good progress on backstroke follow-through.  He is now reliably flicking both wrists and pushing with his thumb.  He is feeling the rope resisting his thumb push so his follow-through is fast enough.
  • Left wrist flick at the bottom of the handstroke is improved but not completely reliable yet.  He is now often sending the rope straight down to the floor, but wasn’t able to break his habit of reaching over his left hand to make the pickup on the far side.  As a result the rope is going all over the place on the way back up, and his pickup is often delayed.

He raised the 6 twice, to the point at which the first coil would be released, then lowered.

For next time:

  1. Think about keeping his right hand on top of his left at the bottom of the handstroke, not over it on the left side.
  2. Practice crawling up and down the practice rope.

Nineteenth class for new ringer Barbara.  She rang the 2.  She can ring both strokes together reliably now, and only needs to work out a few wrinkles before she will be ready to graduate.  Focus areas:

  • Vertical pull, no throwing out.
  • Don’t overdo the handstroke:  release it before the sally pauses and shoots back up, and release with both hands at the same time and keep the right on the left down through the follow-through.
  • Faster follow-through on the backstroke.  She is flicking her wrists, but isn’t getting her hands down to the bottom of the stroke fast enough to feel the resistance to the push of her right thumb.

She was able to set the 2 fairly reliably, making two handstroke sets in a row at one point.

Next class for Barbara and Eoin is Su 1 Apr.  Next class for Carroll and Nancy will be the week of 9 Apr on a day depending on Carroll’s schedule, possibly Tu before the regular ringing practice.

When ringing goes wrong

At last night’s practice there was some discussion of what to do when things go wrong.  We were ringing Call Changes and had just called the band into (for example) the row 54312 when things went bad very quickly, the 5 called out “I’m on the wrong stroke somehow, should I cut or hold up?”, and the band had to be called to stand.  What happened?  What should have happened?

In an ideal ringing world, we would have sounded this sequence, with evenly-struck blows and a clean handstroke pause:
(Red numbers represent handstroke blows, black backstroke blows.)

In the 4’s view, the 5 (a less-experienced ringer) had gotten ahead, and so the 4 had left space for the 5 to fit into while the 4 continued ringing at the “correct” pace:
The 3, treble, and 2 followed the 4.  The 5 realized something was wrong but didn’t know what, and within a couple of strokes it was no longer clear whether the 5 was half-a-stroke ahead or half-a-stroke behind.

Another view could be that the 4 had failed to follow the 5’s lead, and drifted off behind taking the 3, treble, and 2 along as they followed:
Which was correct?

Of course we don’t know, and one can convincingly argue that it doesn’t matter or that both are correct;  what mattered was that the band got so scrambled that we had to stand to restore order.  We’re all in this together, and except when ringing specific exercises the overriding goal is to keep the band together and coordinated.  The only time we “leave space” rather than following is when a new ringer is learning to ring in rounds;  a new ringer is going to be striking blows all over the place so we ring steady and wait for them to get back in place.  The 4 should have followed the 5’s lead;  if that lead was clearly off, the 4 might have “averaged out” the error by striking somewhere between in-rhythm-with-the-earlier-blows and exactly-one-place–behind-the-5, but every ringer’s duty is to follow the bell in front and ring in the rhythm of the band.

If the 4 had followed the 5, despite the 5 running ahead (if that was what was happening), there would still have been some pulls that were not well struck and a couple of clashes with two bells striking at once:
but the band would have been ringing as a unit.  All it would take to straighten things out would be for the 5 to get back under control or the conductor to call “5 lead wider off the 2”.

The moral of this experience (subject to correction by more-knowledgeable ringers) is:

  1. Ring in your place as best you can, keeping in mind that
  2. Precisely when your place occurs is a fluid constantly-shifting thing that ultimately depends on when everybody else has just struck and is getting ready to strike, so
  3. The right place is the one that keeps everyone together.

Follow the bells in front of you as cleanly as you can, unless the conductor calls for you to do something else.

Practice · 2012Mar27Tu

Five ringers:  Jody, Judy, Ken, Marguerite, Thomas.  We rang 1-2-3-4-5.

It had been so long since we had all seen each other that we talked a good bit and caught up on news.  Practice usually ends at 7:30 but having spent so much time talking, and since the band was focused and enthusiastic and making good progress, we continued until 8:00.

After practice we looked at the Call Changes practice program

New ringers class · 2012Mar26Mo

Today the students rang the 2, 4, and 6.

Nineteenth class for new ringer Carroll.  She is working on keeping her good form when combining the two strokes.  Her problems making the catch and the pickup accumulate and throw off her backstroke as well.

  • The handstroke is of much less importance than the backstroke (as long as the ringer isn’t overpulling and risking cracking the stay).  If there is trouble, abandon the handstroke and prepare for a good backstroke, then pull a good backstroke.
  • All ten fingers around the tail for the backstroke.  If you catch the sally, all ten fingers around the sally.
  • Flick the left wrist at the bottom of the handstroke to send the rope down to the floor;  keep or get the right hand on the left (heel of right hand on base of left thumb) at the bottom of the handstroke to make a clean, quick, trouble-free pickup.

Everything else that was a problem was of secondary importance compared to these.

For next time:

  1. Strengthen the grip of all ten fingers by gripping a rolled towel as if it were a bell rope or sally, right hand over left, and squeezing.
  2. Practice aligning the left and right hands vertically as though the rope were stiff.
  3. Practice flexing the left wrist sideways, keeping the plane of the palm parallel with the plane of the forearm bones.

Thirteenth class for new ringer Nancy.  In the first part of class she rang the 2 and then the 4, both strokes together, working on good form so that she could free her attention for the upcoming challenges.  She made excellent progress since last time, ringing much more reliably and calmly.  She worked on setting the bells n times in a row (today’s best was 2).  At the end of class she also rang the 6, finding that heavier bells are both less forgiving (in that you have to give long straight pulls to keep them rung up) and more forgiving (in that flubbing one stroke has little effect).

In the latter part of class, Nancy raised the 4 and 6 up to the first coil and then lowered them.  She focused on good form, especially at the bottom of the stroke and the wrist flick, in order to strengthen the right muscles.

For next time:

  1. Practice flexing the left wrist sideways, keeping the plane of the palm parallel with the plane of the forearm bones.
  2. Practice aligning the left and right hands vertically as though the rope were stiff.

Next class for Carroll and Nancy is We 28 Mar, as is the next class for Barbara and Eoin.

New ringers class · 2012Mar25Su

Both students worked on raising/lowering and on ringing form today.  Note that although this is their eighteenth class, it is the equivalent of their eleventh or twelfth class since for most classes they split the hour.

Eighteenth class for new ringer Eoin.  He raised the 2 to the first coil and lowered it, then worked on his form.  Next time he’ll ring the 4 and perhaps the 5 instead, bells that are harder to muscle and have to be rung with more foresight.

Eoin is able to ring both strokes together but instead of controlling the bell he is merely getting out of the trouble the previous stroke put him in.  Raising (in particular) is a great opportunity for him to strengthen the muscles he needs to ring well.  Points to improve:

  • Vertical pull.
  • Hands aligned with the rope vertical through them, down to the point at which the wrists flick.  Right hand is good (though could be better), left hand is not good.
  • Full extension of the arms at the bottom of each stroke.  Right arm is doing better, left arm not well at all.
  • Both wrists flick at the bottom of each stroke.  Right wrist flicks, left wrist does not, especially when alone after the release.

Between now and the next class,

  1. Practice bending the left wrist to the side while keeping the left hand in the plane of the forearm.
  2. Practice throwing the left hand down towards the floor.
  3. Practice crawling up and down the practice rope, both hands together and left hand alone.

Eighteenth class for new ringer Barbara.  She has zoomed ahead in her progress and is shaping up very well.  Today she focused on raising and lowering the 4 to the first coil, then beyond the first coil, then raising it all the way up.  Points to work on:

  • Follow through after the handstroke;  throw the left hand down and flick the left wrist.

Between now and the next class,

  1. Practice crawling up and down the practice rope, both hands together and left hand alone.
  2. Practice taking a coil with the left hand, while the right hand is keeping the rope vertical (see the Learning to ring page for details).

Eoin’s younger brother Liam sat quietly during class and watched attentively—looks like a future ringer.

Next class for Barbara and Eoin is We 28 Mar.  Next class for Carroll and Nancy is Mo 26 Mar.

Service ringing · 2012Mar25Su

Three ringers:  Judy, Marguerite, Thomas.  A fourth ringer was ill and unable to attend.

  • Raised treble-2 and 3-4 in peal pairwise, in expectation of four ringers.
  • Full Pull Plain Hunt on Three.
  • Wrong Places on treble-2, then 2-3.  Initially we tried sequences of wrong places, but then backtracked to single instances (two blows) of Wrong Places interspersed with Rounds.
  • Rang down 2-3-4 in peal, then treble and 6.