Transcribed by Cathy Booth
[00:00:00] JESSICA: There’s so many things to think about. and I keep thinking how easy it looks and there’s all of these things happening.
[00:00:06] ANDREW: Try to think about one thing at a time.
[00:00:09] LES: Don’t be concerned if you think you’re not making rapid progress.
[00:00:14] CATHY: Hello, this is the Fun with Bells podcast and my name is Cathy Booth. What’s involved in learning to ring church bells? We’re now going to hear the experience of some local new ringers and some tips from experienced teachers at the recent art conference.
[00:00:35] MELANIE: On that first evening, I realized, you can’t think of anything else but ringing bells when you are ringing. So it’s actually like a meditation.
[00:00:43] VAL: I was fascinated by the process last week at my first lesson.
[00:00:48] NATASHA: I came away and I really enjoyed it and was looking forward to the next one.
[00:00:52] TIM: I enjoy the challenge. You have to be very present and you have to concentrate all the time and you have to make an effort. So I enjoy that.
[00:01:02] CATIE: I’m so enjoying it and really pleased that I made the decision and I’m able to come back to ringing. I remember that it was such fun when I did it last time.
[00:01:14] CATHY: So what might the learner be thinking as they’re learning to handle?
[00:01:18] JESSICA: It’s hard.
[00:01:20] CATHY: What do you find hard about it?
[00:01:21] JESSICA: There’s so many things to think about and I keep thinking how easy it looks and there’s all of these things happening. So the discipline in how things stay straight, the rhythm that you have, the tension that you have. The tension you need to feel for and when to pull, when to hold. It’s a lot. It’s a lot.
[00:01:41] CATHY: And what might the teachers be saying at this stage?
[00:01:45] CHRIS: Pull the sally harder and stretch at backstroke.
[00:01:49] CATHY: Do you want to elaborate?
[00:01:50] CHRIS: Often they don’t pull the sally hard enough so they can’t find the balance point at backstroke, and they’re afraid the rope comes down a bit fast and it’s wobbly and it frightens them. So the more you can get them to slow it down and feel the balance point, the safer they feel. So that’s one I use a lot: Pull and stretch. No tiptoes though.
[00:02:09] DEE: In the bucket, pull down at backstroke and flick at the bottom
[00:02:14] CATHY: Into a bucket.
[00:02:14] DEE: We automatically say in the bucket and they know You just flip your hand down and imagine you’re trying to put the rope into a bucket. So pull it all the way down, top to bottom. And the other one is, don’t forget to pull down at hand stroke as well.
[00:02:26] ANDREW: Try to think about one thing at a time. Don’t try and think about everything somebody tells you and ignore all the well wishers that give you hundreds and hundreds of pieces of information at once. Work with your teacher. Focus on one thing and try and get that right and then move on to the next thing. ‘Cause your brain’s limited. You can’t process everything all at once.
[00:02:45] LOUISE: It’s a journey that is not something that you can learn in a few minutes. And it’s not just the bell handling that will take hours and hours, weeks and weeks. It’s actually a lifetime of learning ahead. And after that, I think the other top tips I say is to not be daunted. That it is something that looks very easy. They’ll soon see that it’s actually quite difficult to build the whole ringing style together and make sure that, they just take it step by step, focus on one thing, get that one thing right before we move to the next.
[00:03:20] DEB: Don’t expect, as an adult, miracles, they don’t happen. It’s hard work and practice and extend your ability to focus and concentrate Don’t expect to do it straight away because you didn’t learn to drive straight away. You had lots of different people teaching you. You had your local BSM your dad, your uncle. and it’s the same with bell ringing. There’s lots of different people give you lots of different tips and something will click.
[00:03:49] SIMON: Persevere and also that you’ll always find a point when you may be a little bit slower than someone else, but you will get it. And then you move on to the next thing and not to be disheartened if you see other people progressing more quickly than you are at any point, cause you may well catch up.
[00:04:04] CATHY: And when you get the bell handling under control, here’s another top tip.
[00:04:09] COLIN: Listen.
[00:04:10] CATHY: Listen to what?
[00:04:11] COLIN: Your bell and all the other bells. So listen, listen, listen all the time and make sure that you can hear your own bell and you can hear the whole row that’s being rung as well. If you can listen and you can hear your bell, you’ve got 70% of the problem solved. About 30% is getting it right. 70% is being able to hear it properly. So listen is my top tip.
[00:04:36] RUTH: If you feel you are doing something that’s relatively unconscious and you can just enjoy the moment and the oneness with the bell, the teacher isn’t just always being pernicity. It’s actually worth putting in that effort at the early stages.
[00:04:50] CATHY: I heard from new learners that they were happy to keep going despite their difficulties,
[00:04:55] MAUREEN: I still feel nervous but I’m not ready to quit. I’m ready to keep going despite the mistakes I make. And as they say, you learn by your mistakes. So it is fun. It is good to learn. Keep going.
[00:05:07] CAROL: It’s so much fun. It’s still a lot to learn and I think you need to not forget what you’ve been taught cause that’s important.
[00:05:16] JESSICA: I want to practice more. So I just wanna do more really.
[00:05:21] CATHY: And there were teachers explaining their role in helping you learn to ring.
[00:05:25] LES: Keep calm, listen to what we say. Don’t be concerned if you think you’re not making rapid progress. We are trying to help you achieve, become competent ringers by breaking things down into small steps for you and keep at it.
[00:05:42] MATT J: Keep going. Don’t be put off by anything. Have the confidence to do what your teacher is telling you to do and enjoy it. Ask questions and yeah, enjoy it, mostly.
[00:05:55] PAUL: To realize that this is a journey of discovery. It’s a world which we can open up for you. And that you’ll find a new skill, a new enjoyment an activity that we hope that you will blossom into and really value and enjoy.
[00:06:07] CATHY: Many people said that the important thing was to enjoy it.
[00:06:11] STEVE: Enjoy it. We are doing it because we enjoy it and I want new learners to enjoy it. It’s fun. Please don’t worry about anything. It will happen. And when the light bulb moments happen, make sure you’ve got a smile on your face.
[00:06:24] SONIA: Find yourself a band where you have fun and you enjoy it. I think the main thing is about enjoying yourself. This is all voluntary. Very few people are paid in the ringing world, and if you don’t have fun, find somewhere else. That would be my top tip.
[00:06:40] ARTHUR: I think patience, I think particularly something like ringing it is hard. You want to recap and the more we learn about how memory works, how the mind works, and how we learn, the importance of recapping on a regular basis is important and cognitive overload, not trying to do too much at once. Although it can be challenging, ringing is a hobby so the more we can enjoy it, the better.
[00:07:03] CATHY: A couple of teachers mentioned the need to relax even when others are shouting it at you
[00:07:09] ALISON: I think you’ve got to be quite determined. You’ve got to relax. If you’re tense, it doesn’t work. You’ve got to remember to breathe. I’ve heard people say that a lot of times. Breathe, you’ll be fine.
[00:07:22] SIMON: Relax
[00:07:22] CATHY: Any more than that?
[00:07:24] SIMON: Yeah. I think the funniest thing about relax as well is people shout it at people.
[00:07:29] ALISON: Sometimes you’ve got to have a bit of a thick skin. The way that if your ringing can be corrected by somebody who needs to say something quickly and succinctly, it might be taken the wrong way if you don’t understand that they’re just trying to help you out. But also the language they use, you might not always understand because they have different ways of saying things.
[00:07:56] CATHY: Such as?
[00:07:57] ALISON: Hold it up. Hold what up? Oh, the backstroke gap. Where? So little things like that. And I try and ask them afterwards when you said X, Y, what did you mean? Mm-hmm. And they explain. And I go, oh right, thanks. I’ll try
[00:08:15] CATHY: And for the learners, the people around them do make a difference.
[00:08:20] MELANIE: I can see some people take it very seriously to a point, it might be not so much fun for some people learning. But actually it is quite good fun.
[00:08:31] FRANCES: I like the teamwork and the enthusiasm that people have about ringing.
[00:08:37] TIM: I see the happiness on the faces of the people that really know what they’re doing.
[00:08:43] MATT L: Enjoy it. We’ve very much come to realize that our measure of success is having a smile on your face at the start and a smile on your face at the end. And if you can do that and focus on that, and it’s our job to create a supportive atmosphere to help people. There’ll be ups and downs, frustrations, but it’s very much enjoy it.
[00:09:03] CATHY: Thanks to all those who let me record their tips and experiences. They’re listed on the show notes at www.funwithbells.com. I f you’ve enjoyed this episode, then please share it. This podcast was put together by a team. Special thanks go to Anne Tansley Thomas, Emily Roderick, John Gwynne, Emily Watts, Leslie Belcher and the Society of the Cambridge Youths for the recording of their ringing.
[Bells ringing rounds]