With all churches closed for more than 3 months during ‘lockdown’, bell ringers have been unable to gather in their local tower to practise their art. They have, however, been able to meet virtually using a ‘meetings’ app such as ‘Zoom’ or ‘Microsoft Teams’. Many bell ringers have now combined this online meeting with a web-site that allows them to ring virtually.
St Andrew’s bell ringers have been using a virtual bell ringing web-site called ‘Ringing Room’. It was invented at the end of March by a group of bell ringers in America, partly in response to the pandemic and partly because bell ringers in America live a long way apart and needed a way to practise together.
Each tower can create their own virtual ‘Ringing Room’ and individual ringers can log on and enter their virtual tower. Each ringer is then assigned a bell rope (see screenshot below) which can be rung by touching the spacebar.
The number of bells can be varied from 4 to 12 and simple commands are possible to start and finish the ringing.
Our numbers have increased from 9 initially to 14 more recently and we have rung Rounds on 10, Plain Hunt on 5,6 & 7, Plain Bob Doubles and Grandsire Doubles. It’s a slightly different skill to ringing a church bell; no physical effort is required but the bell ringers have to listen very carefully and count their position in the sequence. This takes a while to learn and takes a lot of mental concentration.
As expected, our younger bell ringers have been quick to master the technology but some of our ‘not so young’ ringers have also benefitted from this new technology and improved their understanding of bell ringing theory considerably.
We have also trialled the online ringing with children as young as 6 and achieved positive results. The photo below shows Evan Smith smiling after ringing Plain Hunt on 4.