From Rounds to five- spliced Surprise Major (a dash of good fortune and a heap of hard work!)

I started my ringing journey in March 2015 and within 3 months I was well and truly hooked. In January of this year I rang inside to five-spliced Surprise Major. I would describe my ringing journey so far as being peppered with good fortune coupled with a lot of hard work. Here are my top tips for giving yourself the optimum chance of achieving your ringing dreams:

Get out more!

When I first started ringing everybody advised me to get experience ringing at as many different towers as I could. It was a daunting prospect to say the least! I’m not a naturally confident person, so walking into an unfamiliar tower, to ring rounds, just three months in, was very, very scary. But you know what, everyone was so friendly and encouraging. It made a huge difference to my ringing progress in the early days; and I soon felt like a member of the ringing team. I now ring twice a week (practice nights) at a selection of four towers (my home tower plus three others).

Do your homework outside of the tower (plus learn your place bells)

At each stage of my learning: Called Changes, Plain Hunting, through to Surprise Major methods, I have spent hours at home reading around the theory (I thoroughly recommend all of the books by Steve Coleman and the Whiting Society) and learning key aspects of methods like the work of each place bell, the order of work and where you pass the treble.

Step outside of your comfort zone and take every opportunity to ring with advanced ringers

I thought it would take me decades to ring Surprise Major, if at all. Then, I was given the opportunity to attend a monthly meeting for Surprise Major ringers in order to ring the treble on 8-bell methods. This is a fairly prestigious meeting for advanced ringers to get together and practice the Crème de la Crème methods (look up the blue line to Glasgow and Belfast – eeeeeeekkkkk). Well, let me tell you, I had to pu tmy big brave pants on to get through that first practice, ringing in front of such talented ringers!!! However, taking advantage of this opportunity has allowed me to fulfil my dream … first I rang the treble,then took the opportunity offered to learn to ring inside to Surprise Major methods, one at a time, and then in January of ringing five-spliced. If nothing else, I have learned that ringing with others who are more experienced than you will always upyour game and make you ring better!

Learning to ring is such an amazing journey filled with delight and despair! My journey is far from over – my current goal is to learn how to call touches in all the methods that I ring; and I hope one day I might even be able to conduct. So, for now I’ll continue to seek opportunities to learn and call touches when I can, and marvel at how conductors can ring their own bell whilst watching what everyone else is doing and knowing where the treble is when they need to make the call! Good luck!

Some of Cara’s Ringing Books

This article first appeared in the April 2019 edition of Tower Talk – the free quarterly e-magazine for new ringers, written by new ringers. To make sure you receive future editions of Tower Talk in your inbox, please subscribe here

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