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Worcester Cathedral's Teaching Centre for Bellringing

by Mark Regan, Ringing Master, Worcester Cathedral

Worcester Cathedral is unique in having a purpose-built Teaching Centre in the tower. It comprises eight dumbbells each of which simulate a tower bell of about six hundredweight.

The dumbbells have large fly wheels and are weighted with railway bed plates. They have a unique stay mechanism which is easy to reset. The flywheel effect minimises the risk of injury.

Each dumbbell uses Abel via a laptop and headphones. With Abel you can ring just the method you are working on, whilst the other ringers in the room are each ringing their own methods. At the same time each of you is supported by your own separate -- Abel-generated -- band which you hear through your headphones. And no-one goes wrong when they are helping you. Or you and your band can ring the dumbbells as a ring of eight bells using loud speakers, and no-one can hear you outside!

The Teaching Centre is a sophisticated playground, where you can do anything from learning to handle a bell to ringing advanced methods on twelve or more bells. There's even a broadband link in the tower.

How does it work?

The range of teaching and learning opportunities is enormous.

The Teaching Centre allows maximum 'rope-time' for improving your skills in a perfect ringing environment. Tutors spend 100% of their time teaching and not ringing. Students spend 100% of their time ringing and not waiting to ring.

A digital camcorder enables students to be filmed whilst they are ringing. This gives the opportunity to watch yourself handle a bell and for your tutor to give instant feedback and coaching support.

Bell handling

With an experienced teacher the dumbbells can be used to teach new recruits bell handling skills. You can learn quickly. There is no waiting for your turn at a practice night.

The re-settable stay device removes any anxiety about the "broken stay". This helps the tutor relax too. Abel enables the pupil to hear immediately when their bell rings - so there are none of the disadvantages of tied bell practices.

Listening skills

The learning process: 'feel your bell', 'hear your bell' and 'see other bells' works best.

After learning to handle a bell competently, the next most important skill is ringing your bell accurately with others. Starting with rounds, you can hear accurately where your bell is placed using the Abel software and headphones. Practice builds confidence. You can review your ringing and 'self teach'. Working with your teacher you can set personal goals and then practise until you achieve them.

Once you can ring rounds and call changes to a high standard it is easy to move on to change ringing. You can practise ringing your bell accurately to new methods too.

You can learn to ring accurately at different speeds and learn how to manage odd-struck bells.

How can I use the Teaching Centre?

In lots of ways!

If you are planning a ringing trip to the UK please come and see us!

When can I use it?

As it does not disturb the neighbours it can be used all day.

The Cathedral is normally open between 0730 and 1830 everyday. Sessions can be booked up to 2100.

We ask people to make donations to the Teaching Centre according to how they use it. Income goes to our funds which are dedicated to teaching new ringers.

If you would like to know more...

Please contact Bernard Taylor who is the Secretary of the Cathedral's bellringers: ; or Phone 01531 650888. Visit our website at www.worcestercathedral.co.uk

Posted Jan 28, 2010

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