This is a slightly modified version of the info sheet that is given to our trainee ringers. If you are thinking of learning with us it will give you some idea of what to expect.
You will initially be taught by an instructor, who has been trained to teach bell ringing and who is qualified to help you make progress. As there are safety aspects involved and incorrect use can also cause damage to the bells and bell mechanisms, you will initially only ring in a one-to-one situation with your instructor.
Learning to ring needs time and effort, so please be patient if it seems to be taking a long while. Practice time, not to mention that of your teacher, who is an unpaid volunteer, is limited and initially you will be watching more than ringing. But this isn’t wasted time! Try to make use of it to observe the ringing and to ask questions about what is happening.
You will make quicker progress initially if you are able to have a series of one-to-one teaching sessions at a different time to the weekly practice evening to give you added ringing time, particularly if there are other learners at a similar stage to you. The extra hands-on time will shorten the period to the point where you can start ringing with the band. Your instructor or the tower captain will discuss this possibility with you. However we do understand that people have other commitments and you are free to progress at whatever pace suits you.
Ringing for your first service
Once your instructor and the tower captain feel that you have reached a suitable level of competence you will be invited to ring for your first Sunday service. There is no fixed length of time for this as different people learn in different ways and at differing speeds.
In order for your instructor to feel that you have attained this level you will need to have a good basic level of competence and be safe with the bell. At this point you will be capable of ringing in rounds and will be at least progressing to simple call changes. You will also need to be able to stand your bell when asked.
The fundamental reason for ringing the bells is for services, though for many ringers the main enjoyment comes from the practice sessions and learning new skills. Once you have rung for your first service you will be encouraged to make yourself available for regular service ringing. There is, however, no specific obligation and it is accepted that not everyone can always be there. All being well there will be more than the minimum number of ringers there when you ring for your first few Sunday services and initially you will quite likely be given a spell or two and then invited to sit out.
Weddings and other special occasions
We do have a number of special occasions during the year, including weddings. At these times the tower captain may well wish to have the best available band, particularly for a wedding, which will be a once-in-a-lifetime event for the bride and groom, and for which a fee will have been paid. So don’t be discouraged if at first you are not invited to ring at such times. A good standard of ringing for a wedding is something that gives great pleasure to the ringers, as well as the congregation, and it makes the hours spent learning and practicing all the more worthwhile.
The bell tower at Scarning comes under the Norwich Diocesan Association of Ringers, frequently referred to as the NDA. We are part of the Western Branch.
Once you have rung for your first service the tower captain will talk to you about joining the NDA and you can then be proposed for membership at the next quarterly meeting. Membership of the NDA opens up all sorts of possibilities such as outings, visits to other towers, training days and workshops and so on. If you want to know more follow the NDAR link from this site.
We have adopted the training scheme developed by the Association of Ringing Teachers (ART) and we will talk to you about registering as a learner. This will, amongst other things, give you access to excellent on-line resources and you will be given a personal logbook to record your progress.
Bell ringing is a team effort that needs cooperation and the willingness to work closely together. Bell ringers are friendly and supportive people and every one of them will have been through a similar learning experience to you. Try to be tolerant when with the best of intentions someone tells you that you are doing something wrong, don’t become downhearted if at times your progress is slower than you hoped, and above all enjoy your bell ringing!