The Frome Branch of The Bath and Wells Association organised a workshop that enabled people to swap ideas on how to teach rhythm. There was a really good turnout and lots of interesting ideas were suggested. On the whole, it was agreed that we do not do enough to help learners with rhythm and hearing their bell. Yelling about striking is not helpful to learners, they need more information! Here then are the ideas that came out of this workshop, with thanks to everyone who took part::
- Using a simulator, get the learner to ring the tenor behind, while the simulator rings the other bells. When that is going well, turn the volume down and let the tenor ring on it’s own for a few blows. Then turn up the volume and see if the tenor is still in time with the simulator.
- Ring three bells, with everyone saying “Three blind mice three blind mice – space – three blind mice” etc. Then try it with everyone saying it in their head instead of out loud. Then move on to four bells and make up a rhyme to ring it to.
- The same thing can be done using music on a mobile phone. The learner claps to the rhythm of the music, then keeps going while the volume is turned down and back up again.
- Clap in time with the tenor whilst listening to a recording of ringing
- Ring The Whole Pull and Stand. This is sometimes used for a funeral. Ring two rows of Rounds, then everyone except the tenor sets their bell. The tenor rings two blows alone, then everyone else joins in again for another two Rounds, etc, etc.
- Ring Rounds with one person ringing facing the wall.
- Set a metronome to a reasonably slow speed and clap Rounds with the tenor keeping pace with the metronome. If you haven’t got a metronome, you can find one on YouTube.
- Use a human to clap instead of a metronome.
- Ring the bells "Cartwheel”. This just means omitting the gap at the handstoke lead, and you can get some super rhythm going.
- Ring one handbell each in Rounds. When that settles down nicely, start walking around the room doing it. This practices keeping the rhythm going whilst doing something else at the same time.
- Ring Rounds at varying speeds. Treble and two set the pace. The others must listen and follow suit.
- Clap Plain Hunt! This is a bit of a challenge! It would be a really good way to teach someone to hunt. No disturbance for the neighbours! Sit round a table or stand in a circle. Pretend that you have a handbell in your hand, but clap instead.
- Explain to your learner about the three speeds of ringing. There is ringing slowly to move up a place, ringing faster to move down towards the lead, or ringing steadily to stay where you are (make a place.)
- With an odd number of people, clap around the circle. 123456123456 and the next person taps the table for the Hansdstroke Gap at Lead instead of clapping. Having an odd number of people ensures that everyone gets to tap for the gap. Then try clapping with your arms above your head, to simulate ringing a bell.
- Station someone outside while you ring. Agree amongst yourselves that, for instance, the 3 is going to ring wide. See whether the person outside can pick out which bell is wrong. If you are not at a groundfloor ring, do the same thing, but so that the person doing the listening doesn’t overhear which bell is going to misbehave, hand out slips of paper saying, for example,“Tenor clipping the 5” .
- Imagine you are riding a bike, pedalling along on a flat road, while you ring your bell. Compare the movement of your arms to the action of your feet on a bike.
- Suggest that your learner reads “Striking, Rhythm is the Key”
- Above all, HAVE FUN!! When it all goes wrong, laugh! Don’t make the poor person who has spoilt the rhythm go home feeling bad. Be sure to get the experienced ringers to try everything as well and have a laugh when they don't get it right!