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Stage 3: Beyond "K2"

Seven to Heaven Method Madness You call it Progressions

The Seven Steps to Heaven

The skills acquired in order to ring surprise minor need development and enhancement in order to ring more complex methods and greater numbers of bells. However, the process learning - assimilation - practice works just as it did in stages 1 and 2.

This page then leads in to seven specific extensions of the basic skills.

Whilst all of these techniques are of value, it is worthwhile tackling them purposefully, one at a time. Classically, being better able to see the position of the treble is a major aid to ringing complex methods, and a good starting point for the other techniques.




Track the Treble

Track the Treble

In treble dominated methods, the work of a pair of bells is defined by the position of the treble inside the change-rows. Therefore the skill of tracking the position of the treble is a major advantage.

A gradual build-up of skill is important.

Here are some tips to look for

  • In Plain Bob, the treble rings in seconds when calls are made on the backstroke prior to the treble's two blows at lead.
  • In Plain Bob, when the tenors ring their split lead, the treble hunts between them, and lies behind when they meet and cross in 45.
  • In Double Bob, look for the treble reaching 5ths just 2 whole pulls after leading. This is the cue for dodging in 1-2 and 3-4.
  • In Kent and Oxford, slow bell makes seconds over each working bell in turn as the treble works through the four dodges 34up, 56up, 56down, 34down.

It's easy to lose track of the treble when you're counting your way through Plain Bob Major hunting, sure, just try to pick it up again at the next dodge.

Track the treble is a very useful skill. Tell your brain that you expect it to find a way of being fully aware of the position of the treble, all of the time, and don't accept "that's too hard" as an answer.


Awareness of Position

The challenge is to ring your pair accurately in amongst the other bells, especially on the higher numbers, without frying your brains.

Rising to the challenge starts in Plain Hunting/Plain Bob with the technique of ringing two bells as one pair. Bell "A" is rung in a place relative to the lead, and bell "B" is rung in a place relative to bell "A". (e.g. "One from lead and one between").

However, as the number of bells being rung increases, so does the potential separation of a pair, and counting becomes more difficult. On 8 bells 3 apart is easily countable, 5 apart can be counted but does not last long, 6 apart is opposites.

On 10 and 12, 7 apart and 9 apart require different techniques, and the use of coursing bells, or method structure is suggested.

In all of this, it is important to be continuously aware of the intended places in which the pair should be rung. Ringing the standard Treble Bob Methods, Kent and Oxford, helps to develop this skill as the coursing order is mostly preserved, and the hunting and dodging patterns are like Plain Bob. However, the extra dodges enable better awareness of position.

The static methods such as Hull and Bourne Surprise Minor, and Superlative S Major can contribute to the development of positional awareness.

Ring it all

Ring all the PN Elements

Plain Bob Minor has Place Notation elements: X, 16, 12, 14, 1234. It does not call for: 34, 36, 56, 1456, 3456. In order to ring Treble Bob and Surprise methods, competence at ringing the full structural elements is needed. Practise at 36 and 56 can be gained by ringing Double Bob, and St Clements CB Minor, and 1456 comes in as a single in Reverse Bob Minor. PN Element 34 cannot appear in Plain Methods but is readily available via Oxford Treble Bob.

One of the significant reasons for ringing these methods is to ensure that dodging in 1-2 is crisp, and the rhythm is unbroken. This is good preparation for ringing the more difficult treble bob based methods.

PN element 34X34 appears for most people when they wish to ring Kent T.B. Whilst the places are made backstroke-handstroke, there is no disruption to the natural coursing order; a little study of the spacings of pairs of bells is necessary, again to achieve crisp strking.

Multi approach

Use several different ways of learning a method

There are several ways to memorise methods, and the choice of technique relates both to the preferred style of the ringer as well as the complexity of the method. The options are explored mory fully in Method Madness

DPB, Leads, Posts

Double Place Bells, Pivot Leads, Staging Posts

There are two points here:

  • Breaking the method down into smaller chunks.
  • Approaching a method in a manner that gives "safety points".

Double Place Bells

Tower bell ringers will be familiar with the concept of knowing what place they are in, inside the change-row, at the backstroke of the treble's lead. This becomes a major learning point when ringing touches incorporating several different methods.

With a pair of bells to ring, some classes of method lend themselves to using the double place bells as an aid to memory. Methods with lead end 156342, e.g. Cambridge Surprise Minor are the classic example, and the place bells sequence for 3-4 pair is 3-4, 4-5, 5-2, 2-6, 6-3, 3-4, with the related ease of memory from the almost perfect natural number sequence.

If you are planning to ring a more complex method, look at how the place bells fall to see if this will aid the memory

Pivot Leads

The vast majority of methods rung on handbells are symmetrical about the half lead. On handbells, if your pair of bells crosses over at the half lead, then the work of the pair reflects, i.e. can be thought of as running backwards from that half lead. Associated with this, each double line has a mirror image, e.g. in Cambridge S. 3-4 pair is a mirror image of 2-6.

Staging Posts

Ringing is "fragile" if a small trip disturbs the concentration of a ringer who then loses the plot and destroys the touch. We have all been there.

Ringing the more complex methods is mentally demanding, and it is helpful to have points in the ringing where a lttle less intense concentration is needed. Tower bell ringers will normally relax when ringing the pivot bell (e.g. 3rds Place Bell in Cambridge S.). When learning a complex method, look for "the easy bits", they help you get ready for the harder parts.

Other bells

Awareness of Other bells

Knowing a method so well that you understand how the pieces of work for other bells is dovetailed into the work of your pair gives re-assurance. Static methods such as Norwich S. Minor are a classic in this regard.

Coursing Order

Develop your use of Coursing Order

See Glossary entry for more information on coursing order.

Every bell has a course bell and an after bell.

In simple structure such as Plain Hunting and Plain Bob, awareness of these bells can be extremely helpful in navigating (at handbells speed) through a large number of bells. Coursing order is still present in the more complex methods but may be harder to use as an aid to ringing. Natural coursing order is preserved well in Cambridge Surprise above the Treble, in Norwich Surprise Minor, and in Yorkshire Surprise Major.