I think there is far too much “political correctness” in ringing, and I further think it is a counter productive technique. Encouragement is one thing, and very important, but telling someone they did something well when they didn’t is not only dishonest but leads them to believe they are, in fact, doing it well when they are not. What better way to cement bad habits and bad ringing skills?
The term “better” can be used for encouragement but is not nearly the same as doing something “well” (or “good” as is often said, since much of populace seems dedicated to the abolition of the adverb).
It is probably true that in the US most people who learn to ring do so later in life than in the UK, simply because there are so few towers where one can learn that it is not normally possible to learn until and unless you happen to take up residence within a reasonable commute of one of them. By the time most people get to start to ring, they have often attained some level of academic and/or professional success, by which time being taught something as if they were a kid tends to grate. Being given instructions in a terse and blunt manner grates even more.
But ringing is an endeavor in which very rapid, accurate and concise instructions need to be conveyed and there is often no other way to achieve that.
I have found that it helps to settle your mind on the notion that many existing ringers who have spent many long hours developing (note I didn’t say “perfecting”, because that may not be the case) their own skills are offering extensive amounts of their own time and effort to help you improve your skills. Whatever instruction they give you should be at least respected and given due consideration when you are able – which may not be at the time that it is given, when you may be fighting for all you are worth to control your bell.
Note: Politics & egos seem to have a way of inflicting themselves everywhere, and there will likely be cases when someone who is fond of the sound of his or her own voice (although I think “his” tends to be more prevalent) will take every opportunity to tell someone else what to do under the guise of offering helpful advice. However, you can normally get to know them fairly quickly, and learning to ignore them is good practice for improving your concentration.
Also realize that not all instructors are at the same level or have the same experience or ability. A good and well experienced instructor can likely offer correction in a quieter and gentler tone than one who is doing all that he or she can to keep their own bell right and spare some concentration for helping you.
So if you get shouted at, in almost all cases it’s nothing personal, it’s just the way it comes out at the time.
And of course, in some towers one may have to shout to be heard above the bells, while in others one may have to shout to be heard over the voices of those outside the circle.
Belfrymanship (or if you prefer, Belfrypersonship)
Some of the younger or less enlightened members of the ringing community may not be aware of an amusing series of articles published in the Ringing World several years back, penned by the late Rodney Meadows.
Amusing as they are, there are some aspects of in-tower behavior that merit adoption, sometimes as personal courtesy to others and sometimes just to keep things moving along amiably and productively.
As may be obvious to some, I should mention that some aspects of this issue may be down to personal preference, so making an effort to get a range of opinions from other experienced ringers may be beneficial.
I believe that most ringers who genuinely want to participate in good ringing do not want distractions while they are ringing or preparing to ring and don’t want to wait around before starting to ring after they have caught hold of their rope.
Reasons for this can include the fact that for some ringers it can oftentimes be somewhere between mildly annoying to downright irritating, and more pertinently that ringers who may not have rung the proposed method or methods recently may want to collect their own thoughts for those few seconds available, and such distractions often prevent that.
Such distractions can come in several forms, such as:
- Ringers who have not learned a method properly “wittering” about how they start, claiming they want to be on a particular bell or, if sliced is to be rung, asking what method will come first.
- Asking whether or not they will need a box after ringers have taken hold of their ropes. You can ask a local ringer or the last person who rang that bell as soon as you know which one you will be ringing.
- Working out, out loud, which will be your course and after bells. It’s always the same for a plain course and if it is a touch that starts with a call, as some methods can, then working it out for the plain course very possibly won’t really help, will it?
- Proceeding to explain any number of essentially irrelevant matters such as why they got lost ringing the same thing last week, or why they don’t fully know the method (Duh!).
- Before a peal or quarter, waiting until everyone has caught hold before deciding they need to visit the restroom.
- And so on, and so on……
A bit of light hearted banter is usually tolerable as long as it is kept to the point and not pursued beyond, at most, a short initial comment followed by a short succinct response.
One of the things that I think is commonly overlooked is the fact that maintaining good control of a bell takes typically something like 50% to 75% of your concentration and more if it’s a difficult bell. This may reduce as you become more experienced, but for the first several years of your ringing career it’s likely a reasonable (but admittedly unsubstantiated) estimate.
Consequently, when you are ringing you have only a fraction of the concentration available for remembering and ringing the method than when you can think about nothing but the method.
Not only are you having to “multi-task”, but when you catch the sally at hand stroke and pull off at both strokes you need to concentrate almost completely on bell control and so have to re-prioritize your mental tasks roughly every couple of seconds.
So it’s no wonder you need to know the method “inside out and back to front” before you can do all of that and stay right.
Things to note about preparation for ringing:
- If you need to look at a blue line, ask for advice or ask for a particular bell, You should NOT be attempting the method yet.
- If you need to look at a blue line before ringing a method, you haven’t done your homework.
- If you are not fully prepared to splice the method with Plain or Little Bob, you still don’t know it well enough.
You may want to try it on an occasion such as an area meeting if you don’t normally get a chance at your home tower, and this is not an unreasonable desire, but you still don’t know it as well as you should, so keep working at it until you do.
Having a “stander behind” is often prudent when attempting a method you haven’t had much opportunity to ring before, but you should be confident in your own mind that you know it thoroughly before attempting to ring it because if you don’t you are not only wasting your own time but that of the 7 (for Major) others who are taking the time and trouble to give you an opportunity to attempt it.
And just so as you know it, lack of adequate preparation is something that usually gets noticed and remembered.
Comments on, criticisms of, etc. all the above readily accepted, if you can work out how to do that.