At first learning to ring called changes may be daunting, but do not worry. There are a few simple rules to learn, then all you have to do is listen carefully to the conductor. Different towers have their own preferred way of calling the changes, it is a good idea to ask which way the changes will be called, especially if visiting other towers. Is their calling convention to CALL UP or CALL DOWN ?. Sometimes the conductor may call more detailed instructions when changing a bell rung by a learner.
The General Rules
Rules for Changing Places
The conductor will call the change at a handstroke, do not change at the following backstroke, but at the next handstroke. This delay ( 4 seconds ) gives all bells time to think about what they have to do. If you imagine the places are a staircase, you climb slowly up and hurry quickly down. This can be summarised as:-
Ringing a Bell Moving Up to a Higher Place.
The conductor calls at a handstroke. At the following backstroke, pull a little harder. At the next handstroke catch the sally a little lower, allowing the bell to rise closer to the balance, slowing it down, to follow after the bell that moved down a place. At the next backstroke, pull normally catching the sally at handstroke in the same position as before the call was made.
Ringing a Bell Moving Down to a Lower Place.
The conductor calls at a handstroke. At the next handstroke, catch the sally a little higher, preventing the bell from swinging so far, cutting it in behind the new bell. You move down a place replacing the bell that moved up a place. At the next backstroke, pull normally catching the sally at handstroke in the same position as before the call was made.
Is the Conductor using the Calling UP or DOWN Calling Convention
There are two different calling conventions, so how do you determine if a conductor is calling up or down? Some conductors will say whether they are calling up or down, if they don't, listen to the very first change. The Conductor Shouts A to B. If A is a lower number than B, like Six to Seven they are CALLING UP because A is being called up to a higher number. If A is a higher number than B like Four to Two they are CALLING DOWN.
The four rules below apply at every change called but which rules apply depend on the calling convention.
Rules for Interpreting Instructions
The conductor will call two bells to change positions. There are a few simple rules that explain what to do. Listen carefully to the call and see if you or the bell you are following, are mentioned and apply one of the following rules. If your bell number is called, note whether it the first number or the second number, as this makes a major difference. These rules apply to both UP and DOWN calling conventions.
Rule No.1 If you are ringing bell A and the call is A to B you follow bell B as instructed.
Rule No.2 If another bell is called to the bell you are currently following, then you follow that bell. You are following bell Q and the call is P to Q. Bell P follows bell Q as instructed. Two bells cannot follow bell Q, so you are displaced and must now follow bell P.
Rule No.3 If another bell is called to you and that bell is not the one you were following then you are not affected, continue to follow the same bell. If you were following the bell that is called to you, then apply Rule 4.
Rule No.4 If the bell you are following is called away, you must find a new bell to follow, which is the one that it had been following. You are following bell X and the call is X to Y. Bell X is said to be called away. So you must now follow the bell that X was following before the change was called. If X was leading then you lead. If you are Bell Y in this example, it makes no difference, still obey this rule.
Applying these Rules to Different Calling Conventions
From rounds 1 2 3 4 5 6 we swap bells two and three over to achieve 1 3 2 4 5 6
The Conductor is Calling Up.
The call is TWO to THREE. Two moves UP a place to follow three (Rule 1), three was following two so it moves down a place to follow the treble as this was the bell the two had been following (Rule 4). The fourth was following three, as two was called to three, so the fourth now follows two (Rule 2), staying in the same place and continuing to ring at the same speed.
The Conductor is Calling Down.
The call is THREE to TREBLE Three moves DOWN a place to follow the treble (Rule 1). Two was following the treble, so it must move up a place to follow three (Rule 2). The fourth was following the three who was called away. So it must follow the bell that three had been following, the number two (Rule 4). It stays in the same place and continues to ring at the same speed. The treble was mentioned but it didn't move (Rule 3).
Learning to Ring Called Changes
Try to be aware of the bell that is in front of the bell you are following. If the bell in front of you is leading then you will have to lead if it is moved. Ringers may try to remember the order of the bells as the conductor calls the changes even if they are not directly affected. This comes with practice and is very helpful if you progress to conducting the band yourself. Don't forget to listen to the sound of the bells. Some sequences are very pleasant and listening will help get the striking right too.
Have a Play
The Change Ringing Toolkit contains a tool to help you learn how to respond to called changes. Try swapping bells over and see what the conductor would have called to make it happen. Either calling Up or Down may be selected. Instructions are given on the screen or in more detail by choosing HELP from the menu. Try it here : Called Change Composer.