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Trying it yourself

The whole experience has been hugely entertaining, and the enthusiasm of the children involved has been very contagious.  When Simon and I began this project, we were both more than a little skeptical about whether it would really work, and whether we could communicate how bellringing works to quite a young audience.  However, our initial idea of committing only four weeks is a good way to put your toes in the water.  It is long enough to do something reasonable, but offers a good exit if it is not going all that well.

The feedback we had from the experience thus far has been very positive.  One pupil told the Headteacher that it was ‘the best after school club ever’.  Another parent reported that her daughter ‘loved it’ despite being mercilessly teased by her older brother.  One came to me and confessed that he just ‘loved handbells’.  He went on “it is really really hard, but I just love doing it!”

Also, the great thing about primary-aged children is that they are too young to be self-conscious, and come at any topic without pre-conceived notions.  As a previous correspondent has pointed out, headteachers will fall all over an offer for something like this.  Bellringing ticks a lot of boxes in the curriculum. 

Some things that we learned:

  1. A lot of handbells really helps.  In the end we used two sets so that we could have as many children ringing as possible.   But if you can get access to a sizeable tune ringing set it is ideal.  Access to small handbells are also great for small hands.
  2. It is good to have an alternate activity for when there aren’t enough bells to go around.  I created a series of very easy worksheets, plus I got the children to draw pictures of bells, and had them write out and decorate Plain Hunt on squared paper.
  3. It can be quite hard to use computers or other audio visual equipment for presentation purposes.  For example, this primary school had a very strict firewall, and so I couldn’t show YouTube videos of bellringing, or very easily use Abel.
  4. Stickers are great, and so are pencils, buttons and certificates.
  5. Make an information sheet for parents, so that they have some idea of what the children are learning.
  6. Try to arrange a demonstration or ‘have a go’ session to drum up interest in advance of the club.  The fact that one of the students from the school was able to also stand up in the initial demonstration was a huge draw.
  7. Make each session a little different – a little bit of novelty makes the review and rehearsal go down better.
  8. Break sessions into 10 or 15-minutes segments to keep the pupils from getting distracted or too tired to concentrate.  This was sometimes quite hard to do, and at times felt like we were interrupting things just as they were making real progress.  So this rule needs to be flexible.
  9. Public performances make a good goal to aim for.

Have any questions?  Like to try starting your own group?  We are happy to answer any questions if you contact us at tina@handbellringing.co.uk