Early Practice / Practice · 2013Aug06Tu

Early Practice · Bobbie, Thomas.

  • Bobbie checked all the stays, staple nuts, and wheel nuts.  This is the check that should be performed every two to four weeks.
  • Bobbie muffled and then a few minutes before 6:00pm un-muffled the 4.
  • Bobbie raised and lowered the 4 twice.  She is doing much better than she was two weeks ago.

Practice · Five ringers:  Bobbie, Judy, Ken, Marguerite, Thomas.  We raised 1234.

  • Rounds and Rotate, to help Bobbie learn to ring in the band.  She rotated to all four of the raised bells.  This was her first time leading.
  • Call Changes, with Bobbie looking over shoulders and trying to predict what we would do then seeing if we did it.
  • Plain Hunt on Four.  Bobbie looked over various ringers’ shoulders.  Ken stayed on the 4 and the rest of us rotated around the front three.
  • Rang down in peal.  It went pretty well:  in rounds for the first third, then in 1243 for about the next third, then in 12(34) with the 3 and 4 crashing most of the time.
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Early Practice / Practice · 2013Jun11Tu

Early Practice · We muffled the 2 and 4 carefully, pressing the flaps firmly against the clapper ball, and checked the muffles every so often;  neither worked loose.

  • Lynn came at 3:30 to work on her ringing motion.
  • Carroll came at 5:30 to do the same.

We lowered the bells at 5:55 and removed the muffles.  Carroll unfortunately had to leave at 6:00pm.

Practice · Five ringers:  Anne, Judy, Ken, Lynn, Thomas.  We raised 678, then the 5 when the fourth ringer arrived, and finally the 4 when the fifth ringer arrived.  It was a positive and congenial group, and practice was a pleasure.  Anne expressed a desire to ring the tenor and did so for the entire practice.

  • Call Changes.  This was good for everyone, particularly on the heavy bells, but primarily oriented to Lynn, ringing the 6, who is just starting to follow them.  Thomas called her to exchange places with each of the bells next to her, called the two bells in front of her to change, and the two bells in back of her (to be sure she knew how to respond to a call that did not affect her), in various sequences and combinations.  After about 45 minutes Lynn expressed a desire to take a break;  she had been ringing for more than three hours by that point.
  • Anne proposed Plain Hunt on Four on 5678, without a tenor behind.  We talked through how a visually oriented ringer would strike in leads;  in Anne’s case, on the 8, she would always lead off the 3 then the 1.  A hearing oriented ringer would simply listen.  We did quite well considering we were hunting the heavy bells, making it cleanly through the first four strokes almost every time, with the Back Rounds row clearly audible, but the remaining four strokes were more of a problem.  Everyone was contributing but we finally determined, by discussing who was finding which bells in the right spot to follow when, that the tenor was often not getting all the way back out to 2nds after leading.  By then we had been hunting for 40 minutes, everyone was tiring, and it was time to ring down, which we did individually.

Early Practice / Practice · 2013Jun04Tu

Early Practice · Four ringers:  Bobbie, Carroll, Lynn, Thomas.  We muffled and raised 124.

  • Bobbie worked with Thomas on raising and on good ringing motion.
  • Lynn and Carroll raised bells and worked on their own.  Lynn has been working with the Tempo Advance iPhone metronome app and a bluetooth earpiece, to learn to count while ringing and to synchronize the striking of her bell with a count.
  • We lowered the bells and removed the muffles.

Practice · Nine ringers:  Anne, Carroll, Jim, Judy, Ken, Lynn, Marguerite, Nancy, Thomas.  Tonight was a heavy-bell practice focusing on Plain Hunt.

  • We had six ringers at 6:00pm, the scheduled start of practice, and raised the back six 345678 in peal.  The rounds were fairly rough but we will improve with practice.  We raised 1 and 2 later when the last few ringers arrived.
  • Rounds on the back six.
  • Plain Hunt on Four with two covers, on the back six.  Our newest Plain Hunters Anne and Nancy rang working bells.
  • Plain Hunt on Five with tenor behind, on the back six, still with Anne and Nancy on working bells.  When Ken arrived I relinquished the tenor and stood behind ringers.  We were able to ring some clear and often well-struck leads, and rang several leads in succession a few times.  Overall everyone was in their correct sequence and often striking in their place.
  • When the last ringer arrived, I redeployed everyone for Plain Hunt on Seven with tenor behind:  Anne, Jim, Judy, Ken, Marguerite, Nancy, and Thomas hunting and Carroll tenoring behind “on big Bob” as she says and keeping everyone honest by ringing steadily.  The technical challenge of fitting each strike in an eight-beat flow is still beyond many of us, so we did not achieve any complete leads in correct sequence.  We did however ring leads in which many strokes were audibly in correct sequence, and usually made it through the first half to the Back Rounds row and a bit beyond before getting muddied up.  Even when the band was not staying in completely correct sequence we did not fall apart, and arrived at the lead end more or less together.  Well done all, and especially our newer ringers!
  • Rang down in peal 12345678.  Possibly some of the ringers were tired, because it appeared that some simply gave up on staying in place and just rang down, unfortunately.

An excellent practice overall, and ringing of which the band can be proud.

Early Practice / Practice · 2013May28Tu

Early Practice · Bobbie, Carroll, Nancy, Thomas.  In keeping with the Cathedral’s new reduced-ringing policy we muffled the bells from 5:00pm to 6:00pm with some grumbling about the extra trouble and the time it took away from ringing.

  • Bobbie raised the 4 and worked on getting all her good habits back after weeks away from the tower, guided by Thomas.
  • Carroll and Nancy worked on their skills.

When we lowered the bells and climbed back up the ladders to remove the muffles, we found that the staple bolts of #1 (which had been muffled) and #8 were loose.  We quickly organized into a crew to align each clapper, tighten the lower nuts, check and realign if necessary, then tighten the upper nut to lock them in place.  The treble’s (#1’s) staple bolt had also been found to be loose at the Equinoctial Tower Cleanup on 2013Mar23Sa, only two months ago.

Practice · Seven ringers, eventually:  Carroll, Jim (arriving after his meeting ended), Judy, Ken, Marguerite, Nancy, Thomas.

  • We rang up 123456 in a grand cacophony.
  • Rounds and Rotate, working on even striking. The striking improved over the course of our Rounds and Rotate but we still have room for improvement.
    • Not all of the band are reliably ringing with appropriately out-of-balance strokes so that we have a clean handstroke pause and even spacing among all the strikes.  The Miami band had rung for years with equal hand- and backstrokes and no handstroke pause, and not everyone has made the transition.
    • We also helped Carroll with where she looks, i.e. not at her sally when making the catch, and with the visual spacing between her hands and those of the ringer she’s following, i.e. about half a sally’s length.
    • Some of the senior ringers seem to adjust their striking to put pressure on a ringer they feel is out of place, thereby getting out of place themselves.  It’s a human temptation but is not helping the band.
  • Plain Hunt on Four with tenor behind, Nancy tenoring evenly behind Judy, Ken, Marguerite, and Thomas.  The working bells were initially s-l-o-w as has been the Miami custom, so that some of them were out beyond the steadily-striking tenor;  then when upbraided the working ringers overcorrected to crowd too close to leads, leaving a big gap before the tenor.  On the bright side, the working bells were almost always audibly in the correct sequence among themselves.
  • Rang down in peal.  Perhaps it is time to devote a practice to ringing up and down in peal, as many of the band are not doing well with ringing down in peal.  At our elementary stage in this skill, it is important to focus on keeping one’s bell at about the right height, so that it strikes at about the right pace, and if possible also keeping it striking at about the right time as well.  I’m no expert myself, but there are a few heuristics that are helpful at this stage:
    1. Be attentive at each stroke, so you can correct any problems before they grow.
    2. If your bell struck too soon, put oomph into it immediately to ring it back up a bit higher, where it will strike at a slower pace.
    3. If your bell struck too late, check the next stroke so that it is sooner and also so that the bell does not rise as high, so it will ring at a faster pace.
    4. As in normal ringing, the best thing to do is count and ring in your proper place by the count.
    5. As in normal ringing, if the ringer ahead of you gets off the beat, look to the ringer two ahead of you, or three, or as many as it takes to find a ringer who is ringing reliably and whom you can synchronize off of.
    6. As in normal ringing, if you are the treble or the tenor, make your corrections small so that you don’t throw off the rest of the band, who are relying on you.
    7. Whatever you do, don’t give up;  keep trying.  As with any other skill you’ll improve if you try to do better.  Meanwhile if you give up you are letting down the ringers around you.

Practice · 2013May21Tu

This practice was a first in several ways:

  • Our first Tuesday practice and our first 6:00-7:30 practice since the vote on Sunday to change the practice night and time.
  • Our first practice without the window curtains, which apparently had damped the reverberations;  everyone noticed how clear (and loud) the bells sounded.  For some reason no one noticed this on Sunday, which makes me wonder if a workman had been upstairs and left the hatch open today.
  • Our first practice since Thomas replaced the 6’s slider.  No one noticed this on Sunday either.  The 6 is now quite shallow-set.

Carroll, Lynn, and Thomas arrived at 5:00 and put the ringing chamber back in order after Thomas’s top-to-bottom vacuuming for treated wood sawdust and concrete dust.  (This time the shop vac picked up a quart of concrete dust;  the sawdust was hard to estimate because so much had to be tapped and scraped off the filter, but there appeared to be over a gallon.)

Carroll, Lynn, Nancy, Pamela, and Thomas worked on various ringing skills before the main body of ringers arrived.  Pamela coached them in ringing and Thomas took each one through the software “ringing games” as Jody aptly terms them.

Eleven ringers in all:  Anne, Carroll, Jim, Jody, Judy, Lynn, Marguerite, Nancy, Pamela, Thomas, plus visitor Niall from Yorkshire. We raised all eight.  The tenor appeared to come up right (meaning with the clapper on the correct side of the bell) tonight;  I believe this can be accomplished by careful raising and following through in the dozen or so pulls after the ringer comes off the sally.

Jim, Marguerite, Pamela, and Thomas took turns calling go and stop.

  • Rounds and Rotate.  Marguerite stayed on the light three due to her back, and Pamela on the light six, but otherwise everyone went all the way around the circle.  Carroll impressed everyone by tenoring well and setting the tenor easily.
  • Plain Hunt.  With visitor Niall we had an unparalleled number of Plain Hunters (Jim, Jody, Marguerite, Pamela, Thomas) so we took full advantage of it.  Anne rang the 4 and then the 6 in Plain Hunt on Six with tenor behind.  Nancy rang Plain Hunt for the first time on the treble, progressing from Plain Hunt on Two (making places) through Plain Hunt on Four with six bells going.  Finally, we rang Plain Hunt on Seven with tenor behind (Anne, Jim, Jody, Judy, Marguerite, Pamela, Thomas, and visitor Niall).
  • Rang down in peal.

Early Practice / Practice · 2013May08We

Early Practice · Carroll, Lynn, Pamela, Thomas.  Anne, Judy, and Marguerite joined in as they arrived.  We were glad to have Marguerite ringing with us again.  We raised 123456.

  • Carroll and Lynn practiced ringing to a metronome (right).  We use the “Tempo Advance” iPhone app, with settings as in the table below.  The tick pattern is an emphasized tick on 1 (for leads) and (N-1) quieter ticks (for the other places) for the handstroke, then the same again for the backstroke, finishing with one beat of silence (for the handstroke pause). Lynn purchased a copy for her phone while we talked about it.
  • Rounds and Rotate on Five and Six.  Pamela or Thomas stood behind Carroll or Lynn from time to time.  By the end of Early Practice the band was ringing some quite well-struck rounds.
bells bpm tick pattern corresponding count
5 174 1234512345(6)
6 197 123456123456(7)
8 207 1234567812345678(9)

Practice · Anne, Carroll, Jody, Judy, Lynn, Marguerite, Pamela, Thomas.

  • We continued Rounds and Rotate for some time, then let Carroll and Lynn sit down.
  • Plain Hunt on Five, then Four, with tenor behind.  We worked in detail on it, focused on Jody ringing the 2 but with everyone working on their specific issues.  By the end of practice we had rung some very clean Plain Hunt.
  • Rang down in peal.

Early Practice / Practice · 2013May01We

Early Practice · Four ringers:  Bobbie, Carroll, Lynn, Thomas.  We were briefly visited by Scott, a ringer from London, who raised a few bells and rang them for a bit.

  • Carroll and Lynn raised bells and practiced their strokes.
  • Bobbie has combined both strokes and can ring both strokes together without limit.  Now she is working to smooth off all the rough edges that are getting in her way.  Tonight she focused particularly on relaxing her left hand so that the tail is across her side of the sally during the handstroke, and on keeping the line through her hands vertical at the top of her backstroke.

Practice · Six ringers:  Anne, Bobbie, Carroll, Judy, Lynn, Thomas.  By this time we had raised all eight.  In preparation for ringing for Jim’s installation as a canon of the cathedral, for which we expect at least eight ringers for pre-service and for post-service ringing, we rang the back six (345678) to give everyone practice handling the heavier bells.  In particular the newer ringers need to polish up their technique because when we have all eight bells going, the newer ringers are more likely to be nearer the back.  We rang Rounds and Rotate for almost the entire practice.  Everyone rang each bell of the back six for five to ten minutes.  I’m afraid our striking was fairly pitiful at first, and though we were trying to ring rounds most of the rows were some other sequence with plenty of crashes  We improved quickly, though, and by the end of practice we were ringing dozens of strokes in a row in rounds, and occasionally the striking was quite good.

Anne noted that we also need to practice ringing for longer stretches, up to say 20 minutes without stopping.  We’ll try to get some of that in too before May12Su.

We rang the bells down together but each at his/her own pace.  It was a good practice.