I’ve been ringing for just over two years and had the opportunity to take part in a workshop highlighting the importance of listening to improve striking and my ringing in general. It was held at St Mary’s church in Dallington, Northampton on Saturday 3rd August. Eighteen eager ringers, of varying experience, attended looking for tips to improve their ringing. Led by Jennie, the afternoon began with some key theory concepts in relation to ringing and what can have an affect on striking - this included topics such as the size of the bell, the timing of your pull, and whether you are ringing a big bell over a small one and vice versa. The importance of being able to hear your bell when ringing was also covered with a couple of techniques to achieve this, such as making sure to count your place in rounds and watching where your hands are when your bell sounds. There was a very interesting and sometimes challenging exercise of listening to a number of recordings with reducing degrees of error, which helped in tuning me in to which bell was either slow or fast, and whether this was at handstroke, backstroke or both. Whilst I’m generally a fairly co-ordinated person, a clapping exercise for placement, timing and rhythm seemed almost beyond me, but it showed the importance of listening and working together.
It was then on to the bells themselves. This was somewhat of another challenge for me, having not rung for the best part of three months. As the experience in the group differed quite a lot, we started off quite tentatively, but by listening, our striking and rhythm improved as we went along. As Jennie pointed out, you have to be able to hear your bell, recognise the error, so that you can improve your future blows. Having had a break for tea, we moved on to the mini striking competition. Being slightly handicapped, my group had a go at handbells. The same concepts apply, and it was a little easier on my shoulder. We practised away in our corner of the church, and then performed a short series of rounds. Of the three teams, we were judged to have won. Another certificate for my growing collection.
All in all this was a fabulous afternoon. No matter how experienced or inexperienced you were, you could learn something from this workshop. For me, one of the most important things was to keep doing what I have been doing, and that is watching and listening when I’m not ringing and counting away to methods that I know. Ringing is a team effort and if we all listen a little closer we can improve ourselves and help others around us.
» What is a Listen and Strike Workshop?