We rang a 720

I really wanted to title this post “6!”, meaning of course, 6 factorial, which is the number of possible changes you can ring with 6 bells without repeating any. That value is 720, of course. And we were able to ring a 720 change method tonight.

We gathered as usual at Jane’s house to ring. Tonight we had Jane, Randy, and Genine. After some discussion about some bell-related artwork that Genine is creating (more on that later!), we started ringing. Jane started a timer. Genine on the trebles, Randy on 3-4, Jane on the tenors.

Discussions about the actual bobs and singles that were called is probably not interesting unless you are a bell conductor. And I’m not! So I won’t (can’t) bore you with the details. Suffice to say that after 17 minutes of solid ringing at a decent pace, we fell apart. I’m not sure how many changes we rang on that attempt.

We then had a discussion about how we failed (Randy mentioned a particular bob he was having trouble with, ringing 3,4, and coursing before a bob is called, being in position 3,5 at the bob, and coming down 2,6. “How can I start so close together, and end up so far apart?” Of course, that’s just how it is at that place. He was also having trouble with a particular single call, but couldn’t remember the details.

This followed with a discussion about a local church wanting us to ring our bells at church. Not as a change-ringing band, but rather as accompaniment to a song the choir is singing this Fall. We don’t really have the equipment to do this, but no decision was made, one way or the other.

We then got back to ringing, in the same configuration. This time, the attempt was successful. After 23 minutes, we got to rounds, having rung a 720 change touch of bob minor. This was a first for Randy in 3-4, and a first for Genine in any position.

Who brought the champagne?!?!?

We rang a 720

Rehearsal, 22 June 2017

Maggie rang a 540 change method!

Well, we all did. Maggie (1-2), Randy (3-4), and Jane (5-6) gathered on 22 June to rehearse as we normally do on a Thursday evening. It was a small group, as we were missing Genine, Karen, and Jess. That gave us a chance to focus our ringing. Since we have been practicing bobs and singles, we decided to work on some random bobs and singles for a while. At one point, Jane decided to start timing us, which added enough pressure that we collapsed fairly quickly. But we persevered.

Fairly quickly, we rang a 300 change method. It took us just over 10 minutes, since we don’t ring quite as fast as some of our more experienced colleagues. After discussing what we had done, and how you can put together a quarter peal on 6 bells, and what types of things you need to do, we started again. And this time, we rang a true method with 540 changes. It took us just over 17 minutes.

Jane would need to say what the actual composition was. She is our conductor. But at the end, we were all quite thrilled. This is the longest method Maggie has ever rung. It is also the longest method Randy has ever rung at the 3-4 position, so a double accomplishment.

This event is recorded on Ringing World BellBoard.

Rehearsal, 22 June 2017

BBC World Music Day

Moonlight Beach Overlook

June 15 was BBC World Music Day, and they called for change ringers to submit content. We attempted to do so, but were too late. However, in honor of the day, we celebrated by ringing in the park above Moonlight Beach in Encinitas.

We were all able to attend, which hasn’t happened in quite a while. So 6 of us gathered at Moonlight Beach at 6:00 PM. We used our outdoor, Schulmerich bells, which sound very good outdoors. Sadly, this is a set of 10 bells, so we weren’t able to all ring at the same time.

In attendance: Jane Booth, Karen Fitzsimmons, Maggie Fowlie, Genine Rainbeau-Heart, Jess Sorrell, and Randy Zack.

The group
The Encinitas Handbell Change Ringers. L-R: Genine Rainbeau-Heart, Jane Booth, Karen Fitzsimmons, Jess Sorrell, Randy Zack, Maggie Fowlie.

We only rang methods we knew fairly well – Bob minor, Bob major, Plain hunt on 10. But we had great fun.

Major ringing
Jess on the trebles, Randy on 3,4, Jane on 5,6, Genine on the tenors. Maggie watching the waves.
Group ringing
Jess on the trebles, Karen on 3,4, Randy on 5,6, Jane on 7,8, Genine on the tenors.

We captured some video as well.

And we rang until the sun set.

Major ringing 3 sunset (KF)
Sunset. Jess on trebles, Randy on 3,4, Jane on 5,6, Maggie on tenors

Afterwards, we retired to Genine’s house to have some dinner and conversation. Sadly, we have no photo evidence of the delicious food we had. But all in all, it was quite a nice way to celebrate.

BBC World Music Day

A special guest

We had a special guest in our rehearsal tonight! Karen’s 4yo daughter Nola joined us for a short while. She had trouble ringing the bells without help, but she rang some rounds with us, with help from Mom. Very fun!

Our band currently consists of Jane, Randy, Maggie, Karen, Genine, and Jess. We often have 5 ringers, and occasionally have 6 ringers, and sometimes have only 4. With these ringers, we are starting to make progress with bobs and singles. I am hopeful that we will do some long methods in the next few weeks, which we can post to Bell Board.

Currently, we can ring bob minor with any combination of 3 people, and almost anyone in any position. There may be some who aren’t quite as comfortable on a particular pair. But the goal is for anyone to ring any position.

We can consistently ring bob major with particular combinations. We are working to extend our capabilities in this area, trying to get everyone comfortable with all positions.

We have not rehearsed bob royal with this band at all.

Keep on!

A special guest

Rehearsal, May 25 2016

Many changes since I last posted.

The biggest news is that Jane has moved away. She was kind enough to leave the Schulmerich bells with me, so that the group can continue to ring. She took her new Whitechapel bells with her, of course. Jane can be found ringing in the San Francisco Bay Area with a group there.

Ange and Lee Ann are still in the group, but are much busier than they were a year ago, and so come much less often. We miss them when they are gone, and are always happy to see them when they are able to join us.

Genine has returned to the group full time.

Maggie and Karen are now consistent members of the group, learning and learning.

That means that Randy is working hard to be the conductor, and learning to keep everyone straight. But, as Jane says, the most important thing is to keep yourself right! And thankfully I have learned enough from Jane that I can mostly do that.

Tonight was Genine, Maggie, and Randy. We rang Plain Bob for an hour and a half. We started outside (and some of the neighbors enjoyed listening to us) with Maggie on the tenors, Genine on the trebles, and Randy on 34 (and conducting). We have fairly nailed that method with those positions, going so far as to “go again”, ringing the method twice through in one go. So we decided to switch it up a bit.

We came indoors (it was starting to get dark), and put Maggie on the trebles, Genine on the tenors, with Randy staying on 34. It took a few attempts, but we were finally able to ring Bob Minor with those positions. The milestone tonight was that, after a few more attempts, we were able to ring the full method with few, if any, hints from Randy.

All in all, it was a good night of ringing.

Rehearsal, May 25 2016

Rehearsal, Jan 14 2016

We had a great rehearsal tonight. There were only 4 of us, allowing us to all ring all the time. We had Karen, Maggie, Lee Ann, and Randy (conductor). Karen and Maggie still consider themselves new (having each been ringing for about 5 weeks over 3 months).

Karen and Maggie had mostly just done the coursing bells on plain hunt (the trebles or tenors). Karen rang the middle set on plain hunt on 10, once before. But since we could ring a lot tonight, Randy made them both learn all pairs of plain hunt on 6 (before Lee Ann arrived), and then ring the 34 pair on plain hunt on 8. They both did fabulously!

Randy was learning and stretching a bit tonight as well. He watched everyone, and was able to help correct people when they got lost. While he has done that some in the past, tonight was much better in being able to see full patterns.

At the end of the evening, Randy explained plain bob minor to Karen and Maggie, without actually ringing any bells. So far, it all looks very confusing to them. Remember your first time?

No real milestones tonight, but some good repetitive ringing for all.

Rehearsal, Jan 14 2016


Our first rehearsal of the new year saw us ringing with two visitors, two (fairly) new ringers, and one returning ringer.

Genine has returned to us. Since we moved our rehearsals to Thursday evening, she has not been able to join us, due to classes she is taking. But a new semester has started, and she has arranged her schedule to keep Thursday evenings free, allowing her to return to us.

In my last post, I mentioned Maggie, who continues to ring with us, and is learning quickly. We also had another new joiner at about the same time. Karen started ringing with us in the late fall. Interestingly, Maggie and Karen have been traveling, or ill, or home with sick children, and so until this week had not met each other, even though they had each attended a few rehearsals at the end of the year. Karen is also learning quickly. It is fun to teach new ringers about how to change ring.

This week also found us with two visitors. Andrew lives nearby, and goes to school at Purdue. He was home for the holidays, and asked to join us in our rehearsal. He learned change ringing while studying abroad last year, where he joined a group of handbell change ringers and a group of tower ringers, both at St. Vedast, learning under Thomas Lawrance. He has rung a quarter peal on handbells with that group. It was fun to have a visitor at all, and to have one who knows how to ring Bob Major was a real treat. We hope he will visit us again, whenever he is in town.

Andrew’s friend Elizabeth also joined us this week. She is also local, and is going to school at Syracuse. She joined Andrew’s handbell group while visiting him in London, and picked up ringing quite quickly. This was only her second time change ringing, and we hope she returns to us whenever she is in town.

With all the new people, and visitors, and returning ringers, we had eight people ringing, which I think is the most we have ever had at a single rehearsal. Quite fun! With so many new ringers, we decided to split into two groups of four, and ring a lot of Plain Hunt Major. Each group had new ringers, and each group was able to ring a full course. Granted, that’s just 16 changes, but with so many new people, we considered it an accomplishment. We even rang for each other, with each group of 4 ringing Plain Hunt Major for the other group to hear. Good fun.

We then decided to let the new people sit out for a while, and attempted Bob Royal. This was a first attempt for Andrew. Genine hadn’t rung in months. In fact, this was the first rehearsal for anyone since December 17. So while we didn’t ring the full course, we did get halfway through, which we counted as a minor success. (See what I did there? Haha!!)

After some more Plain Hunt Major, we decided to try Bob Major. Ange took the new ringers to ring Plain Hunt Major, while Andrew, Jane, Genine, and Randy rang a plain course of Bob Major. There were some small mistakes, but we actually rang the whole thing. I believe that was a first for Andrew. And gave us all a feeling of accomplishment for the evening.

We finished the evening ringing Plain Hunt on 12. It took a few tries, but we finally got it. The new ringers were ringing the trebles and tenors, so all they had to do was course. The rest of us had to do some serious counting.

A wonderful rehearsal, all in all.

Here is a photo of the full group. L-R: Karen, Elizabeth, Randy, Genine, Jane, Ange, Andrew, Maggie.



Minus 2, Plus 1

We regretfully lost two members this past week. Sally has moved to Alabama, and Paul to Minnesota. We’re hoping one or both will return soon. Until that time, they will be sorely missed.

But this loss was offset by the possibility of gaining a new member. Maggie came to ring with us today. She has rung in a tune ringing choir, and heard about change ringing at a recent Area 12 Spring Ring. She caught on very quickly, ringing the trebles for Plain Hunt on both 6 and 8 this evening! We’re hoping that she can ring with us more often.

While Maggie was resting from cramming all this information into her brain, Jane, Paris, Ange, and Randy started working on ringing a long touch of Bob Major. We started with a simple plain course, since Paris hasn’t rung with us for a few months. After doing so, we started with some bobs, just to get used to them. We hope to ring a celebratory quarter peal in honor of Paul’s newborn, scheduled to arrive in November. We have a lot of work to do!

Minus 2, Plus 1

Weekly ringing, October 22 2015

We had a small group tonight. Just Paul and Jane and Randy. So we continued with our attempts at Kent Treble Bob minor, but just couldn’t get anywhere with it tonight. Maybe that had something to do with Randy just having returned from a week in the UK, and so still suffering from jet lag. Whatever.

So we decided to try some other things. First up was to ring a plain course of Bob Minor as fast as we could. After practicing once, we actually recorded it. The recording is on Jane’s phone, and if I ever get access to it, I will post it. We could do better, but the time of the method was 1 minute, 48 seconds. We’re working on getting it even faster.

But after recording a speedy Plain Bob Minor, we decided to try something completely different, and so Jane explained Double Bob. This is very similar to Plain Bob, except that there are half leads – when the treble is at the back, you make fifths, and bells 1-4 mix it up. (In standard notation, at the back end you do a 56.) We were able to ring that with Randy on 12, Jane on 34, and Paul on 56. We then switched bells, with Randy and Paul swapping. This didn’t go quite as smoothly, but we eventually got it. Finally, Paul wanted to ring 34, and so Jane took the trebles and we tried that. I don’t think we ever actually got through the entire method even once in that arrangement! But we will keep trying.

Sadly, tonight was the last night that Paul will be ringing with us regularly. He is moving to Wisconsin for a while. We’re hoping that he returns within a year, but we’ll see what happens.

Weekly ringing, October 22 2015

Learning a new method

Now that Randy, Paul, and Jane understand bobs and singles on 6 bells while ringing plain bob minor, it is time to start learning other methods. So we are starting to learn Kent Treble Bob Minor. And it is almost like starting over completely.

Change ringing notation needs to tell you which bells are moving, and which bells are staying put. Everything we have rung to date has had a very simple way of giving that information. Either everyone switches (denoted by x), or everyone except some collection switches (denoted with the bells that stay, such as 16). So if the first change is simple rounds (123456), and the change is denoted x, then 12 switch to 21, 34 switch to 43, and 56 switch to 65: 214365. If you do that again, you are back to rounds, and you’re done. Which is not very interesting. But if you next do a change denoted 16, then the bells in positions 1 and 6 (the 2 and 5 bells, at this stage) stay where they are, and everyone else switches. So the third line will be 241635. Plain Hunt can then be denoted as x,16,x,16,x,16,x,16, etc. until you get back to rounds. With 6 bells, that comes back to rounds after 12 changes.

Plain Bob is an extension of Plain Hunt. Just before you get back to rounds, you throw in a change denoted by 12 (meaning that the bells in positions 1 and 2 stay, while the bells in positions 3 and 4 trade places, and the bells in positions 5 and 6 trade places). So the 11th and 12 lines would be 132546 -> 135264. You now continue with x,16,x,16, etc until the first bell is again in the first position, when you again do 12. If you continue this pattern until you get back to rounds, you ring 60 changes, or 5 leads of 12 changes each. (A lead is the changes starting with bell 1 in position 1 ringing down, and ending with bell 1 in position 1 ringing up.) If you are interested in seeing the entire method of Plain Bob Minor, you can find it here.

A touch of Plain Bob is rung by throwing in Bobs and Singles at various places. A Bob is denoted 14, and a Single is denoted 1234. If you click the link above to the the printed method of Plain Bob, you will see that it has Bobs and Singles given.

Kent Treble Bob is completely different, starting with a change denoted 34 (so that 123456 -> 213465). And the method does not just switch between two different change types (x, 16) followed by a third change (12) before getting back to rounds. Instead, it has 4 different change types, adding the 34 change, and switches between them seemingly randomly! We are struggling to learn how this all works, and hope to become comfortable with it in the coming weeks. If you are interested, you can see the full method given here.

Learning a new method