For our next dip into The Tower Handbook we look at an early chapter on “Good Habits”. It has eight sections including: Safety, Being prepared, Pride & Standards, Hospitality, Housekeeping and Good Striking. The section on Good Striking gives 10 questions. Here is a sample.
a. What is good striking?
When the ringing is rhythmic and flows evenly with no clips or gaps and with perfect leading. When each ringer in the team rings to the same speed and with the same rhythm as all his or her team mates. Good striking is a joy to the ear and a pleasure to take part in.
b. How do we know whether our striking is good enough?
Perfection is very hard to achieve but you should still try. You should each develop a feeling about the quality of the ringing you produce. If it is “quite good for a band like ours”, you can feel satisfied (but not complacent). If you feel “we really could do better”, then think about how. And you need to agree this within the band. You will not have a harmonious band if half of you are ashamed of the quality of the ringing they take part in while the other half think it is good enough and don’t bother to try to improve it. Your more experienced members should be prepared to take a lead and share their insights with the rest of you, but all of you should listen and form your own views. Does it sound like the description in (a) above or have you heard better? Listen critically.
d. How can I improve my striking?
It depends on what your current strengths and weaknesses are.
- How well can you control your bell? Can you make it do what you want, accurately and when you want it to? If not, then try to improve your handling, since without this basic skill you will find it hard to improve your striking. See section 13.1 for advice.
- If you are confident in your handling, how is your listening? Can you reliably pick out your own bell? Do you know when you strike wide or close? If not, then work on your listening. See section 13.4.
- Do you find yourself making consistent errors, for example ringing too close to heavy bells, or having difficulty striking over odd struck bells? If so, you may be letting ropesight dominate your sense of timing. Try to look at all the ropes, rather than just the one you are following, and make a conscious effort not to be deflected from an even rhythm. See section 13.5.
- Do you have difficulty settling down in a touch? Does your striking get worse when other people make mistakes? If so, you are not relying enough on your sense of rhythm, or you have failed to develop it fully. See section 13.3.
Are you not aware of your striking? Do others tell you it leaves something to be desired? Perhaps they don’t tell you but avoid touches with you in. If so, you can’t hear what is happening aloft, you have probably not developed your listening skills fully. See section 13.4.
Perhaps you can’t identify a single cause, but you just want to try a bit harder with your striking. Whenever you are ringing (and also when you are not) listen intently to the sound of the bells. Try to hear your own bell (or a bell you are watching) within that sound. At each blow decide whether the bell is wide or close, but don’t do anything hasty for small errors. In particular beware of correcting handstroke errors at the following backstroke. Such rapid correction enhances any tendency to be odd struck (in you or the bell) and in any case reduces stability. In other words “listen to it” at all times, but make sure any corrections do not disrupt your feel for the rhythm.
Other questions answered:
- How can we improve our striking?
- Should I ring wider when following bigger bells?
- Is it worth trying to strike well if other people don’t?
- Should I compensate if someone else is too slow or quick?
- What does ‘Strike the roll-ups’ mean?
- Why does calling round take so long to get decent rounds?
- Should the first row after pulling off be slower than the rest?
Where can I get it?
The Tower Handbook is available from: Central Council Publications