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

Long length ringing

In the summer of 2015, Jane, Paul, and Randy decided that we wanted to try a longer length ring, and even perhaps ring a quarter peal. To this end, we started meeting once a week during the week, away from our normal Saturday practice.

The first thing to remember is that Randy and Paul are fairly new change ringers. Paul had rung for a year in a tower, and has rung tunes with handbells, but just joined our group in 2014. Randy started learning change ringing with handbells in March of 2013, and had only ever pulled a rope in a tower a few times, and never for more than 5 minutes. Jane was our experienced ringer, and so was the conductor.

We started by just randomly calling bobs and singles, and learning what that did to the order of the bells. After messing up a few times, we were able to ring a touch of 180 with little trouble. And as the summer progressed, we were able to ring longer and longer touches. Towards the end, we approached the 720 mark (the full extent of 6 bells), but couldn’t quite get past that.

Finally, on August 9, after our normal rehearsal with the group, we decided to give it another go. And after half an hour, we got back to rounds (720 changes), and continued on for another 540 changes, for a full quarter peal on 6 bells of 1260 changes. It took us just under 45 minutes. The Bell Board entry is here.

Needless to say, we were thrilled!

We are working on another long length with 8 bells. Again, Jane, Paul, and Randy are ringing, and are joined by Ange at times, and LeeAnn at times. In fact, on August 26, we rang a long length on 8 bells, of 560 changes, which was a touch of bob major. It won’t be long before we ring a quarter on 8. More about that when it happens.

Long length ringing

Tower Tour

In the spring of 2015, we decided to do a tower tour. Now, San Diego doesn’t have a lot of towers to tour. In fact, there are exactly none. What were we to do?

We decided to ring our bells in various locations in San Diego, and do it all in one day. There are a few options. The first suggestion was to just drive to a few places and ring. Another option was to take the Old Town Trolley Tour with our bells, and ring at some of the stops. In the end, we decided to drive to some of the Old Town Trolley Tour stops, and ring there.

So on Saturday, May 2, 2015, Jane, Sally, Ange, Paris, and Randy met at Jane’s house and drove downtown. Our first stop was the Harbor. We parked near the Maritime Museum, and rang a bit, walked south some, rang some more, and continued until we got to Tuna Harbor Park, near the Fish Market. At one point, Jane and Randy were walking faster than the others, and stopped to wait. But while waiting, we got out the low 4 bells, and started ringing Plain Hunt on 4. When the rest arrived, each took the next two higher bells, and joined in, one person at a time. So we rang Plain Hunt on 4, then 6, then 8, and finally 10. Very fun. We attempted to ring Plain Bob on 10, but there were too many distractions.

We jumped back in the car, and drove to Coronado. At Spreckel’s Park, there is a gazebo, and we decided it would be fun to ring under the dome. The sound there was exquisite! And there were many parents with small children at the park, who had a chance to hear what change ringing is all about.

We stopped for lunch at Leroy’s Kitchen and Lounge, and had a delightful meal. Some of us even decided to act like bell ringers and enjoy a pint of something local!

After lunch, we walked across the street and rang in front of a fountain. Note – ringing handbells in front of a fountain is not conducive to hearing the ringing. So after just a few minutes, we left.

We phoned LeeAnn, and told her we were on our way to Balboa Park, and to meet us there as planned. We wandered around the park and rang at a few locations, with 6 people now. Sadly, we had our Schulmerich bells, which is a set of 10, and so we could not ring with all 6 at once. At one point, we noticed that the San Diego Astronomy Club had their telescopes out, and were offering people a chance to look at the sun through a telescope (with the appropriate filters, of course!). Paris and Randy found that too good an opportunity to pass up, and so stopped and looked while the others continued to other locations in the park. And we found them again, and continued ringing, up until our finale at the Spreckel’s Organ Pavilion, which was quite stunning as well. There was even a small audience!

After Balboa Park, it was time to head home. We all had various plans for the evening, and needed to get back home.

In all, it was a very fun day of bell ringing, our very own San Diego Tower Tour.

Tower Tour