Want to Learn?
Who can learn?
The short answer is nearly everyone. It doesn’t matter if you are young, old, male, female, short, tall, have no musical background or if you don’t go to church. Some people start as young as the age of ten and others are still ringing well into their 90s.
We have professionals, carers, retirees, shift-workers, volunteer workers, unemployed and stay-at-home parents. Bell ringing is open to anyone. And as far as hobbies are concerned, it is very cheap, with no special equipment or clothing required. The main requirements are that you are sensible, can follow instruction, are willing to learn and able to commit yourself to be a member of your bellringing team. Also, and this is quite important – that you can turn up regularly to practice nights.
How long does it take to learn?
This is an easy question to answer. The answer is “for the rest of your bell ringing life”.
As you progress as a bell ringer more and more doors open to you. There is always something new to learn, which will keep your interest in this skill which dates all the way back to the 1600s.
When you first start to learn, you will be taught on a one to one basis how to control a bell. This is by far the trickiest skill to learn, but if you are committed to learning you should be ready to ring on your own in as little as a few weeks or maybe a few months. Everyone learns at their own pace. In this respect it’s like most other hobbies, you start from the bottom and work your way up. And soon you will be able to control a bell on your own with confidence. This is when the real work starts and it’s incredibly addictive and fun.
What is change ringing?
Change Ringing is basically the order in which the bells sound and switching the sequence, with each sequence called changes. This is done to a pattern or ‘method’, and each ringer must learn that ‘method’ in order to know when their particular bell must sound in each change.
Each method has a name, such as Grandsire and Plain Bob and in a practice night you will normally ring short touches (ringing of a method) of up to 200 different changes, which takes around 7 minutes. A touch will start and finish with the bells in order “12345678” (called rounds) and no change will be repeated. That is the main idea behind methods, to not repeat a change. On 5 bells there are 120 possible different changes and takes about 4 minutes.
There are some standard methods which are rung in most towers which makes it very easy for ringers to visit and ring with other bands.
First Steps to Learning
A lot of time, effort and commitment is put in to teaching new bell ringers from both instructors and their learners. It’s a two way street. But as with all activities and hobbies, bell ringing is not for everyone, so the first step is to come to a practice night or tower open day and introduce yourself.
As with all towers in the Essex Association, Rayleigh follows strict national rules regarding child protection. All tutors are DBS checked (formally known as CRB). How this works will be fully explained when needed and before teaching commences. For more and detailed information, visit the Essex Association of Change Ringers Child Protection section.