This course took place at St Andrew’s Isleham on Sat 22nd Sep. Philip Bailey and several helpers took on the exhausting task of training 12 students from 5 different towers. Isleham bells require a bit of work, but are well worth the effort, and we appreciated the warm welcome, and excellent refreshments, from the local ringers.
Allan Whyte and Barbara Le Gallez attended from Landbeach as student and helper respectively. Here is what they thought about it:
I really welcomed the opportunity to practice Plain Hunt on six bells as we only have four at All Saints’ Landbeach. I have only ever practiced on a simulator, which is not quite the same thing as hearing yourself on open bells. Philip began by explaining the theory of Plain Hunt and Plain Bob Doubles and the slight differences between them, which was very useful. All those involved in the teaching were very helpful and supportive and I was more than satisfied with my own efforts. I was really enthused by the experience of ringing with others and I really want to learn more and develop my skills. Overall it was a very rewarding experience and it was great to meet all the ringers from various different Towers.
Learning a skill involves knowing both what to do and how to do it. For bell ringing, we have to build up our skills step by step, so we generally learn “how” to ring before we appreciate “what” we are going to ring. A training course such as this is only one among many steps: preparation beforehand and reinforcement afterwards are essential.
Watching the ringing, it became clear to what an extent the “how” of plain hunting is just applied bell control. Executing plain hunt depends crucially on knowing how to move exactly one place forwards or backwards either at handstroke or at backstroke - and then to do something different on the next stroke. This is something that cannot be practised too much, in every tower on every practice night.
As for the “what” of plain hunting, there are at least three different ways of describing that. Some students see it better one way, some another. I wonder if it would be beneficial if practice nights routinely included separate theory sessions? This would give time away from the pressures of ringing in order to absorb explanations before having to put them into practice. Roger Palmer was seen giving an intensive tutorial in the ringing room, which very clearly paid dividends for one student.
The students who attempted Plain Bob did rather better than me, as I missed one of my dodges. OK - what do you do with your mistakes? You analyse them and learn from them. In other words, no-one never stops being a student.
Allan Whyte & Barbara Le Gallez
Students and helpers at Isleham
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