The Miami Guild of Change Ringers is a group ringing at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral. Some of us have been ringing a year or so, others as much as 25 years. Several members regularly drive two hours to ring at the cathedral; the next nearest ringing towers are in Charleston, SC, ten hours drive away.
Change ringing is the ringing of a group of bells in a sequence of patterns. It originated in England around the time of Shakespeare; the patterns are mathematical and often strikingly beautiful to hear. Each ringer controls one bell. The band of ringers stands in a circle, and they coordinate their ringing by looking at each other, counting, and listening to the bells. See these YouTube videos of ringing here in Miami and of some very fine ringing at Washington National Cathedral.
A ringer controls the bell, and feels what the bell is doing, through its rope. The first part of learning to ring is learning how to safely and accurately control a bell and its rope. You sense where the bell is in its swing by how the rope feels in your hands, you guide the rope so it pours up and down a vertical path a few inches in front of your face, and you control when the bell strikes by boosting the bell up to the right height and “turning” it to swing down at the right instant.
We welcome new ringers with classes for novices and coaching sessions for motivated ringers. Ringers can begin at almost any age. One of us started in England at the age of 8, though in the U.S. it is more common to begin no younger than middle school; for example, a few years ago a new ringer started in Miami at the age of 11 and another at 14. Another of us started in the mid-fifties. Two of us have been ringing here since the bells were installed in 1984.
Ringing is a social activity, good physical and mental exercise, and keeps you young (if you are old enough to want that). For Trinity members, ringing is a service to the fellowship. Local high school students can get community service credit for ringing. For anyone, ringing sharpens your mind, trains you in real-time mental multitasking, and opens to you a worldwide community of welcoming fellow ringers.