I think this is a better way of putting it than writing about why I nearly gave up bell ringing
as that suggests I was unhappy or not enjoying ringing which was never the case.
Week after week Vicki and I faced each other on opposite sides of a bell rope, me feeling I was making no progress at all and she assuring me that this was not the case. Calmly, patiently and with good humour she would take me through the back stroke, the hand stroke and eventually both strokes together. I would manage a few strokes and then it would all go wrong and I was back to the beginning again.
As I got to know Vicki, I learnt that she has a full time job, many commitments, in short, she is a very busy person and I was embarrassed that she was giving me an hour and a half each week of her precious time and it seemed to be wasted on me. I felt that I didn’t have the memory capacity to put everything she was trying to teach me together or the physical ability ever to ring a bell.
One weekend I was to join a practice group at another tower on Saturday and have my usual 1-1 session with Vicki on Sunday and I decided if I didn’t make some serious progress after that, it would be fairer on Vicki to call it a day and not take up any more of her time which could be better spent on someone else more likely to succeed.
At the group practice I was amazed. There were three other learners there and they were having exactly the same problems as me. Their hands didn’t return straight onto the rope from the sally or they didn’t grasp the sally with all their fingers or the tail end was round the front instead of the back. Even more amazing, there were three or four competent ringers there who were prepared to spend their Saturday morning trying to help them get it right. Each of them patiently instructing and explaining. When my turn came to have a go, it went really well, I just found the confidence to put several strokes together without panicking and the feeling was marvellous.
It is also possible that the bell was easier for me. That was the turning point and I never looked back from that day. I still have scary moments and plenty of faults that need correcting but I have realised that it can take a long time to learn to ring and it’s not just me.
As for tips for any other people struggling or tempted to give up, I would say let them have some time with other people at their level, even someone a little more proficient can be off-putting, and let them try different bells, but not too many. Steve Coleman’s books are very good and easy to understand; e.g. his chapter on people who panic when asked to stand their bell was very relevant for me. I borrowed a bell rope to practice hand positions and making and releasing coils without the weight of a bell on the end, much easier! Another trip up to look at the bells when you’ve tried ringing them for a while is helpful too; I didn’t take much in the first visit.
As for the reasons people may give up, I know someone who stopped because he couldn’t get enough ringing time to make any progress, I think he was trying to learn from scratch on a practice night which would be very difficult. (Not in this area). I also expect some people don’t realise how much time is required and they just don’t have it.