Conducting - 26 October 2019

To give the answer in a simple phrase, ‘run the ART conducting workshop’. The Lancashire Association of Change Ringers has devoted its most recent training day to doing just this. An injection of new conductors will help to energise branch and tower practices in your locality.

In planning the event, I’ve learned a lot of lessons about the problems in organising a training day for a large ringing organisation but these will not be relevant to workshop organisers planning to run a workshop in their own right, because Denise Tremain will look after most of these problems.

As every student of Einstein knows, time does not move at constant speed. The more imminent the event, the faster time moves and the less time there is to put things right if you have forgotten about them. I began planning months in advance and made sure I spent ample time reading, learning and rehearsing the powerpoint presentations to plan time management and effective delivery of key learning points.

The workshop contains two theoretical teaching sessions, each followed by a practical ringing session. The first half is focused on reading and understanding how to read and learn a touch, then call the bobs in the right place at the right time. The second half concentrates on understanding coursing order, performing coursing order transpositions and using coursing order to keep a continuous check on the ringing. Plenty of opportunity is given in a group exercise , for delegates to practice and become adept at performing the transpositions by collaborating to compose a peal of plain bob maximus.

The first practical ringing session is a chance for everyone to get to grips with calling simple touches from their chosen bell. It is essential to manage time well in order to create as many conducting opportunities as possible within this session and share them as widely as possible. The second practical session is an opportunity to practice watching the coursing order evolve through the various calls, noticing who is running out, running in or making the bob, and confirming that the ringing is still right. For those minds least able to cope with transposing coursing orders at the sametime as ringing the method and making the next call accurately, this session simply provides extra bob calling practice , sometimes punctuated by carefully judged invitations from the supervisor to report the current coursing order .

To deliver this workshop, you will need a venue with well-maintained bells and a suitable teaching room. ART members, Andy Cope and Laura Robinson have devoted expense, time and personal labour in converting the near derelict tower at All Souls’, Bolton into a fully-equipped teaching and ringing centre in a church now owned and run as a community and business centre by the Historic Churches’ Trust. Andy and Laura generously offered to host the event at All Souls and negotiated room hire and catering at zero cost.

Twelve ringers registered, neatly falling into two bands of six. To avoid congestion in the ringing room and give plenty of time for conducting practice, we negotiated use of the bells at nearby St.Mary’s, Deane. To accommodate lunch and the logistics of moving one of the bands between Deane and the base venue , we modified the half-day workshop schedule to last for a whole day. As a result, we could extend the practical ringing sessions and avoid rushing the theoretical presentations.

Customary and welcome offers from trusted association colleagues, to come and help make up the practice bands, enabled me to delegate the supervision of the practical ringing sessions at the remote tower to a respected deputy, thoroughly briefed on the objectives to be reached.

So that novice conductors can be spared from distracting errors by inadequately-experienced colleagues, attenders really need to be confident when ringing touches of bob minor conducted by others. Ringers at this level will be sufficiently capable to constitute a ‘strong band’ from their own numbers and the need for additional ‘helpers’ is substantially obviated.

The attenders appreciated the deliberate mix of theory with practical ringing on a training day. Careful rehearsal and planned pacing of the presentation against the clock paid off, allowing me to generate the wish for each next item of knowledge and then satisfy that wish in the form of a simple message, supported by a slide. As novice conductors, they were anxious about their capacity to manage the twin tasks of calling bobs and manipulating coursing orders whilst ringing. It was worthwhile to list and prioritise all of the things a conductor has to do, and then focus attention to a limited scope, concentrating on the simplest, fundamental aspects of the job : keeping right yourself and calling the bobs clearly and confidently on the right place. I developed a cunning plan to enable everyone to gain maximum benefit from every conducting opportunity.

Nick Harrop

Course Tutor: Nick Harrop

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