What have you been doing during lockdown?
Houses are unnaturally clean; gardens weeded to within an inch of their life. But consider the poor deprived bell ringing addict!
Fortunately, a small group in Massachusetts has come up with a campanological equivalent to Methodone.
Called “Ringing Room”, it allows a group to gather around their own computers and to ring together in a virtual tower. Linked together, each ringer takes control of a bell and, working together, we can ring our complicated patterns. Well, nearly!
Using some form of conferencing system (Skype, Zoom, MS Teams) the band can chat together.
The ringing itself is a good deal more difficult than it is in a real tower. With no natural rhythm from the bell itself, keeping your place and counting become vital skills! Even experienced ringers find themselves very definitely back in the classroom as they re-learn some of the basic skills of change ringing.
We have just run the very first Kildwick Virtual Practice. It was a bit of a pity that there were rather few of us for this initial session – but it went really well. It’s rather predictable, I guess – but the young ones coped with all the technology far better than I did!
Ringing simple rounds proved to be just too easy. Plain hunting was a bit more challenging, especially as I had to ring two bells at once – and keep track of where they were supposed to be going! Fortunately, I “know the tune” for plain hunting!
We used the alternative conferencing software; Jitsi – and it seemed to work brilliantly for us. There was no complicated setting up or downloading apps and was really easy to use.
It’s not bell ringing as we know it. But it doesn’t half make the brain ache!