Education and Recruitment Best Practices
Below is a list of ideas for the best implementation of the 3Rs. It is not suggested that all, or even most, of these points are applicable at your tower, but some will be.
- Be positive, not negative: its too easy to think why we cannot do something
- Changing the mind-set of our existing ringers so that they will recruit is crucial
- Be proactive not just reactive. How about appointing a tower recruitment officer?
- Particularly favour younger recruits, but do not ignore others, especially families
- Use the media — parish news / village magazines, local press, Radio Leicester
- Have you thought about organising a tower open day? Can it coincide with an event when people are likely to be around, such as a village fete? If your Church has a Gift Day, organise some kind of ringing. It needs to be visible if possible. Consider handbells as an aid to recruitment
- Promotional materials - pens, coasters, leaflets, brochures, posters
- Where do we promote — schools, youth clubs, scout / guide organisations / church notice boards
- Lapsed ringers - do you know if there are any living near your tower, could they be persuaded to have another go?
- Can we get the local clergy to be of assistance?
- Make it clear that being a Christian / attending Church services is not a prerequisite
- Don’t take the attitude that with child protection rules “it is not worth the effort / risk.” Try to involve parents of young recruits. Required under Children’s Act anyway.
- Don’t take the view that young learners will soon be lost when they move away from home, or go to university. Some will stay, they learn quicker than older recruits, and most of our leading ringers learnt at an early age.
- Do what you can to remove / reduce the impression the ringing isn’t “cool”, in particular don’t act like a “nerd” or an “anorak”
- If practical appoint a younger person as ringing master, rather than the person who has been ringing longest
- Can you attract new ringers who have an interest in engineering or carpentry, by telling them you need someone to look after the bells, and then persuading them to have a go at ringing?
- Always be safety conscious.
- Be inclusive.
- Good communication is key. Don’t make assumptions, as no 2 recruits are the same. Some ringers want to rush ahead, while others want the opposite. Listen!
- Have some fun!
- Contrary to established tradition, do not insist on absolute silence in the ringing chamber whilst the bells are being rung. Are you skilful enough to bring this change about without upsetting the traditionalists?
- If you have youngsters, can you put them in touch with other young ringers?
- Can we provide youngsters with some financial reward: get them ringing for weddings as soon as possible.
- Persuade someone else to teach your own children if you can find a volunteer with the right skills and attitude.
- The Oadby Ringing Centre for is available as a very useful resource, use it!
- Until proficient at bell handling, arrange separate learning sessions. Maximum time 30 minutes per person. You may need to consider installing some method of sound control. Maximum 3 recruits at a time, otherwise they are likely to lose interest, and maybe your other ringers will too.
- Always consider ways of making ringing interesting. Provide other activities in the ringing room: it may be hoping for too much to expect youngsters to read ringing books or stand behind other ringers all the time they are not ringing.
- Do not insist on good striking at the risk of upsetting anyone, but always try to have at least one piece of really good ringing even if it means ringing rounds and call changes. Many towers would be glad to have the bells rung at all; excellent striking may not be an achievable short-term goal.
- If you cannot conduct without shouting consider improving internal sound-proofing (i.e. for the tower not you personally!) If you still find yourself shouting, consider asking someone else to conduct even if they are less skilful at ringing in other respects. You may be the only person who does not realise you are speaking much louder than you need to. Try turning down the volume.
- Try to catch learners doing something right and then let them know.
- Never criticise the person, only the behaviour. They probably cannot do anything about the former, only the latter.
- Ensure learners get at least an even share of the ringing at practice night.
- Ensure the right attitude to learners permeates through the band and also applies to any visiting ringers. Encourage visiting other towers where similar ethos exists. Consider joint practices if critical mass is a problem
- A good social side is essential; drinks in the pub after ringing for those old enough, and how about coffee during practice night.
- Encourage new recruits to join the Guild and take part in Guild events, especially Guild social events. Can you do anything to help rather than just turn up?
- Have you thought of appointing a mentor for new recruits? Give them some authority if you do appoint one. Whenever possible, but only if really necessary, have someone standing behind to assist rather than correct from across the ringing circle. If not possible, try to ensure the person “mentoring” is ringing adjacent to the learner, and corrects in an inconspicuous way.
- Implement some kind of award scheme to encourage and reaffirm progress is being made. Set achievable but stretching targets.
- Give learners responsibility as soon as possible. Be imaginative.
- Exercise great care when informing about the amount of time needed to become proficient.
- Most of all have fun and be happy – a happy ringer is a retained ringer!
The Education and Recruitment Committee is here to help you with all matters Education and Recruitment related – please contact us and make use of the ringers resources of this site.
Online Resources - Retention
The Retention of Ringers has a key part to play in keeping ringing numbers up. Good, effective teaching is a important part of maintaining new and old ringers and most of the resources below concern training.
Please make use of all the resources below and don't forget that more information and advice is available from the 3Rs committee
Teaching & Learning
ldgNEWS Education is a compilation of the regular 'Education' articles in ldgNEWS. Download it here.
Nervous Breakdown Bob Doubles is a beginner's version of Plain Bob Doubles where each bell does only one piece of work over and over again. It is very useful to teach learners the dodges, but make sure a competent ringer is on 2. You can download the method and notes here.
Ringing Up and Down is often struggled with by some ringers. This downloadable PDF written by Pam Copson is here to help!
Bell Ringing by Instalments is an excellent series of booklets clearly and simply explaining many aspects of ringing from first lessons to Surprise Major and everything in between! The titles currently available are...
Each instalment is £2.00 (including P&P) by post or £1.50 if sent by email. A donation of that cost is given to the Peterborough DG BRF. Either way a cheque is required by post payable to Peterborough Diocesan Guild. Copies are available “as you need them” from…
There are also a number of short handouts, written by Peter Wenham. Most are designed for learners themselves but may help tutors in their teaching. You can download each of them as a PDF below...
The Sherbourne Teaching Aids range is, as the name suggests, a set of helpful aids to teaching. The below items have been selected as especially useful. Click on the product/idea titles below:
Progress and Recognition
The Bell Club Scheme is an informal progress scheme for new bell ringers. You buy a starter pack and easily run the scheme yourself in your own tower. For each new learner - a personal progress record card and the opportunity to earn four 'fun' achievement badges on the route from Ambitious Apprentice to Champion Campanologist! More information is available from the Bell Club website here.
Progress is important to keep our learners interested - if they stop progressing they stop coming ringing. Using small steps makes learners feel they are progressing. If a learner is struggling on an aspect - focus on something else for a while. A progress chart can offer a visible sign of improvement for learners. Download a guide chart here
Recognition is key (especially for younger learners) in encouraging your ringers. Present certificates or ringing books for significant achievements. Have presentation at a family service or at a district/guild meeting. Ask a district representative to present the award to give the learner a greater feeling of achievement.
Some Retention Ideas and Techniques
- Its best not to have too many learners, 2 or 3 is probably right. If necessary have a waiting list
- Make sure the belfry is welcoming - warm, well decorated, seating area, up to date noticeboard etc. Make sure the ringers are welcoming too!
- Don't expect silence at all times during ringing
- Try using the Bell Club scheme with younger recruits. See above for more
- Provide things to do when not ringing - eg games, cards, Rubik's cubes etc. Don't expect younger ringers to always read bell ringing books/leaflets when not ringing. If you are using the 'One-per Learner' books they could be filled out when not ringing
- Negativity is not allowed. Be happy!
- Every learner must progress at their own pace (whether slow or fast), but make sure that learners are always challenged. Finding the right amount to 'push' is a delicate skill
- Have an outing or social event at least once a year. If this is not possible encourage your ringers to attend Guild outings and events. Have a look at the Guild events page.
- Enter a band in your District striking competition
- Try to get all your ringers involved in the Guild and District, and then become a member when they are ready. Contact your District Secretary, see the contacts page
Child Protection is an issue that concerns many tower captains. This issue is best discussed on a local basis to be in line with your local Church policy. You can download the CC guidelines along with other helpful documents and get more information here.
Complaints about bell ringing are also a problem to some Tower Captains. The Central Council have a set of guidelines for ringers faced with complaints. You can see the guidelines here.
Central Council Publications
The Central Council has a very wide variety of publications and documents for sale, covering all aspects of ringing. Many are very good and will be highly beneficial to you and/or your tower. Click here to view a complete list of all available titles and their price and contact details for purchasing a publication.
The 3Rs Committee would like to know if you have any suggested items for this section, and also improvements that could be made to it or the resources available from it. Please contact us.
Online Resources - Recruitment
Recruitment of new ringers is vital if our hobby is to continue in to the future. Below are downloadable files, information, advice and ideas for recruiting new ringers to your tower. Please note that all letters titled as 'guide' are for use as a guide to writing your own letter, can be used as they are (with local contacts) or even a bit of both!!
Please contact the Committee for more details, advice and information. If you have any new ideas or resources we would like to hear from you!
This new leaflet is designed to be given to members of the public who express an interest in ringing, possibly at an open day or fete, or as part of a mass letter-box delivery to your village/area.
Printed copies of the leaflet are available free from your Committee representative. It's advisable to use address labels to place your personal contact details on the back of the leaflets, sticking them over the Ringing World address, and/or use...
The Guild has produced a guide letter for use in conjunction with the Leaflet. Download it here
More information and advice on using the Leaflets and Letter as part of a large recruitment campaign is available from the 3Rs Committee.
The Guild now has 2 A4 recruitment posters, for your use on noticeboards, shop windows etc. Both posters take the become a bell ringer theme and have text explaining the attractions of ringing. There is also space to add local contact details.
The black and white poster is designed to be easily printed on a home computer. Click here to view and print a free PDF version of the poster.
Making yourself known is important to increase public awareness of ringing, and hopefully increase recruitment numbers. The ideas below are effective, simple and easy techniques to use...
- Regular articles in the local/church newsletter keep ringing in people's minds
- If your village or church has a website, make sure the bell ringers are given a page. You might find it useful to provide a link to the Becoming a Bell Ringer section on this site.
The recruitment leaflet, letter and Becoming a Bell Ringer page give a good idea of what kind of thing you could include. Keep articles short and interesting and always include a welcome to practice night (putting time as the last 30mins rather than the whole practice). Don't be afraid of using cliches and always include contact details (address, telephone, email etc).
The Guild sends regular Press Releases to contacts in news organisations (newspapers, radio etc) and would be happy to consider doing one on any special news in your tower, please contact the Guild PR Officer - see our Contacts Page
There are many people out there who were once taught to ring, but for whatever reason decided to give up. It may be that that reason still stands, but it is common to find it has been removed and, given the opportunity and encouragement, the ex-ringer could return. The Guild has produced a guide letter, available to download here
Open Days and Using the Education and Recruitment Committee
A lot of help and advice for organising and running an open day is available from the Committee. The Committee also has a selection of resources for use at public events (open days/fetes) and is available to do talks and presentations, click here to find out more.
Some Recruitment Ideas and Techniques
- Make sure the belfry is welcoming to new visitors - keep it clean and decorate if necessary. Make sure the ringers are welcoming too
- Choose a Service where there is normally a large congregation, e.g. Christingle, and announce that the Tower will be open immediately after the Service. Demonstrate ringing and let the public have a go at chiming.
- Invite the local primary school to run a project on ringing to include a visit to the tower, look out for children who seem interested
- Invite the uniformed organisations to have a tower visit as one of their meetings
- Invite friends, neighbours, relatives, colleagues etc to drop in on practice night to see what happens - you can say that its interesting to have an insight in to this unique pastime
- Once there are active younger ringers in your tower it is much easier to attract others. The important thing then is to try to teach every year
We need more young people to keep our hobby alive and continuing into the future. The Central Council of Church Bell Ringers has put together some information outlining recruitment opportunities from young people's groups such as the scouts. This page includes further information and guidelines on child protection. A guidance leaflet "Protecting Young Ringers" can be downloaded in PDF format here.
You can also download the official Permission To Ring form to be supplied to young learners, aimed at their parents, after their first visit to the tower.
Central Council Publications
The Central Council of Church Bell Ringers has a very wide variety of publications and documents for sale, covering all aspects of ringing. Many are very good and will be highly beneficial to you and/or your tower. A complete list of all available titles and their price and contact details for purchasing a publication is available on the Central Council website here.
The Education and Recruitment Committee would like to know if you have any suggested items for this section, and also improvements that could be made to it or the resources available from it. Please contact us.
Education and Recruitment Resources
To help your tower with new recruitment, the Education and Recruitment Committee have a variety of display equipment for use at public events and a pack of vital resources for every tower, all free!
The essentials for a beginning your recruitment are contained in the "Recruitment Starter Kit" available from the committee. This contains:
- Professionally printed glossy poster
- Blue "Bell Ringing" recruitment leaflet
- Green Leicester Guild leaflet
- Sample recruitment letter
- Guild Permission to Ring form
- Guild recruitment coaster
- "I rang the bells" sticker
These should get your recruitment started and get you thinking about what more to do! More copies are available free from the committee, please do just ask!
The 3Rs Committee also has resources for church fetes, open days and more to give the general public an idea of what bell ringing is all about and how they can go about joining in. Currently we have the following resources for displays and also for use during a recruitment campaign: (click here for pictures)
- Display boards (including display materials)
- Recruitment posters and leaflets
- CCTV Camera (use, with the laptop & projector, to show people your bells as they are ringing)
- Projector with manual, instructions and Screen
- 2D Bell model
- Toy Hand Bells
- Banner (Become a Bellringer)
- Simulator Bell (feels just like ringing a normal bell - links to the laptop)
- Central Council books
- Sherbourne Teaching Aids booklets
- Set of hand bells
If you are having a fete, planning an open day or recruitment campaign, please contact us to find out more about the resources we can offer you.
These resources can also be used for talks to groups. If you have any local groups who many be interested, please let us get in touch with them! Please send us your feedback after use.
What Is Bell Ringing?
"...it may be an ancient art
but its still great today!"
What is bell ringing?
So how do we actually ring bells? and what is happening up the top of the tower?
Basically bell ringers pull ropes which are tied to the bell's wheel. This is connected to the bell and it rotates. Inside the bell is a 'clapper' which swings as the bell does and hits the sides - so making a sound.
This diagram shows how a bell rotates when it is rung. The ringer is below and is pulling the yellow rope. The wheel (brown) is connected to the bell and they rotate, with the clapper striking the inside. To stop the bell continuously rotating, there is a 'stay' and a slider (the sliding thing) at the bottom which you will see stops the bell.
The bells used for change ringing are hung in a special way to enable them to be controlled with ease. When a bell is rung the rope wraps around the wheel. This is attached the the headstock which is connected to the bell. The stay and the slider at the bottom stop the bell going out of control. These bells are hung in a, usually, steel frame, which holds them in place and lets them pivot around the gudgeons.
Bell Ringing (or Change Ringing)
Change ringing itself uses the control this system of hanging to created variations in the order the bells are rung. In ringing each bell in a tower has a number, with 1 (also known as the treble) being the lightest and highest pitched to the heaviest and lowest pitched (the tenor). The number of bells ranges from 3 or 4 up to 16, but we are using 6 here as this is most common.
So, the 'normal' ringing down the scale you often here is (in bell form...)
1 2 3 4 5 6
This is known as 'Rounds'.
This is what the animation opposite shows. Each bell will strike (go dong or ding!) roughly when the ringers hands pass their face each time they head downwards.
Change ringing works by the order the bells strike in changing order. Because of the way bells are hung, the ringer has a lot of control over them. Bell ringers can adjust the lengths of their pulls to make a bell strike faster or slower than it normally would. With all the bells doing this you can change the overall order of them.
Usually bell ringers use what are known as 'Methods'. These are set sequences which the bells ring in, with each row of numbers being a new pull on the rope. Ringers remember their path through the numbers and then can ring them from memory - quite a talent but not that hard to learn.
This is a method on 6 bells called 'Plain Hunt' -->
Have a listen to some bells in action - Click here to download a sound clip!
So, overall, bell ringing is a skilled art but one which is remarkably simple once you get in to it. It requires no special skills to have a go but is guaranteed to teach you something new.