After-service ringing too?

The band rang all eight bells both before and after the 10:00am annual meeting service last week, with such good results and such enthusiasm that we’ve been discussing whether to make this a regular occurrence.

A few ringers proposed ringing only after services (i.e. at about 11:15am), which has not found wide support and would break a long-standing tradition.

A more likely possibility is to have separate signups for before and after, and ring with different but probably overlapping bands, with the expectation that if there aren’t enough 11:15 ringers we’ll fold that band into the 9:00 band and ring only once.

About half the band has expressed interest in regularly ringing after as well as before.  We’ll continue to discuss the question and will probably try out ringing before and after one Sunday soon.


Practice night moving to Wednesdays

We should have done this months ago.  Bands rarely change their practice nights because ringers often rearrange other activities in their lives around that night.  But in our case the list of ringers for whom Tuesdays was not a good choice has just kept growing until it was impossible to ignore.  A poll of the band this week indicates we can expect to average between two and three more ringers (!) on Wednesday nights.  For a band that still occasionally has to cancel practices due to too few ringers, that just can’t be ignored.

The first practice on the new weeknight will be Aug25We.

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?

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.

Super “Bell” Sunday service ringing · 2012Feb05Su

Five ringers:  Jim, Jody, Marguerite, Rob, Thomas.  New ringer Carroll came to observe and to help with steeplekeeping.

The bells were rung down quickly one after another by a few of the ringers.

After ringing there was a discussion of what to do if the band gets fairly seriously scrambled;  can it get back in order without the conductor calling “Stand“?  Two possibilities were raised:

  1. If a less-experienced ringer is being given practice by an otherwise-experienced band, and that ringer gets far off, then a typical response would be for the experienced ringers to continue ringing in the right places while leaving space for the errant ringer to find his way back into.
  2. In general, the only hope is for the conductor to call out the order of the bells, and for whichever ringer is leading to lead at an appropriate tempo, the bell in 2nds to get in proper place next behind, the bell in 3rds to get in proper place, and so forth until every ringer is following the bell before them.  Eventually all the ringers will be in sequence, the leading bell can start leaving a handstroke pause and no backstroke pause, the band can even out the intervals, and then the band can progress from there.

Thomas and Carroll worked on the 5’s stuck nut for a while.  No progress visible yet.

Oh, and what makes it Super Bell Sunday?  A fine ring of bells, a congenial band of ringers, and everyone striving for the best they can do.  Every day we get to ring is a Super Bell day, as far as I’m concerned.

Getting unstuck

The band is stuck at our current level in Plain Bob Minimus.

We don’t need to get better at counting our places;  we can all do that.  Those of our ringers who also ring elsewhere (for example Pamela, Rob, and Thomas) know that ringing by place is not enough, having had it hammered into them by expert ringers:

  1. You have to watch the other ringers;  ideally you listen as well.
  2. You have to memorize where you pass the treble.

We will continue to stay stuck here until the local ringers take a deep breath and start memorizing.  Pick one new fact a week from this handy list of Plain Bob facts, memorize that one fact, and try it out at practice!

This week, for example, Judy took on this new fact:  “You pass the treble in 2-3 as you begin to Dodge 3-4 Up”.  She said it helped her place her strokes for the dodge, a nice side benefit.  If she masters one new fact a week, a manageable goal, she’ll have memorized passing the treble for Minimus by 14 Feb, and be ready to ring bobs and move on to Doubles and Minor.

Who else will take on this challenge?

Next year’s Christmas card assembly line party

I just finished sending out the tower Christmas cards — 47 to other active towers as a gesture of solidarity and good cheer, and to our donors as a gesture of our continued appreciation and good cheer.  We thank the Washington Ringing Society for the gift of their mailing list so that we could get set up this year!

Next year we are going to have a seven+-ringer Christmas card assembly line party, right after Thanksgiving:

-1. Update the address list (two people for this prep task).
0.  Print out the four sheets of address labels;

  1. Feed each card stock sheet into the printer;
  2. Cut each printed sheet into individual cards;
  3. Stick the address label on each envelope;
  4. Stick the return address label on each envelope;
  5. Insert the card;
  6. Seal the envelope;
  7. Stick on the stamp.

With a group it will take no time, instead of just about all day for one person.  Imagine Christmas carols playing in the background, ringers laughing, eggnog waiting, and a growing stack of cards ready for the mailbox ….  Next year.

I’ve put it on the tower calendar for Saturday Dec 1.