Two weeks ago I rang a quarter of Bristol in which the pairs were assigned randomly just before we started. We had agreed in advance that whoever got the tenors would conduct - which ended up being me. Yesterday we took the concept a step further by randomly assigning individual bells to each hand of each ringer - but with an easier method, Cambridge, and we decided ahead of time that I would conduct.
The first bell drawn out of the hat was the treble for my right hand, and next came the tenor for my left hand. Not a bad pair for conducting from. We ended up with Jeff on 4-5, Gareth on 3-6 and Alan on 2-7. Alan was supposed to have the 7th in his right hand and the 2nd in his left hand, and somehow this seemed difficult to arrange in Ringing Room - he was using the keyboard, whereas the rest of us were using controllers and could just swap hands if necessary or change the settings in Handbell Manager. In the end, Alan turned his keyboard around (luckily he was using a detached keyboard, not a laptop) so that his fingers could naturally land on the correct buttons.
The quarter proceeded fairly smoothly. Ringing rounds at the beginning was tricky, but it became much easier when we started the method. Towards the end there was a kerfuffle, and I heard a voice asking "Which place bells am I?" Perversely I replied "Who's speaking?", although I was pretty sure it had been Jeff. He confirmed that, and I told him two place bells, feeling very pleased with myself for being able to do so - only realising after we finished that I had told him the place bells for 3-4 not 4-5, which explains why giving the information didn't immediately get the ringing back to normal...fortunately there was a landmark bob at the next lead end, where we got everyone sorted out.
It was quite fun in a way, although I'm in no hurry to do it again. One thing that made it much easier than live ringing with random bells was that in Ringing Room, the bells were all in their correct places in the circle. So checking the coursing order was no different than usual - the problem was remembering who was ringing each bell. But not a lot of conducting was required, so overall it was manageable.
The final challenge was how to record the quarter in BellBoard. We wrote two names after each pair of bells, also showing which hand rang each bell.
When choosing a composition there was no point in looking for something handbell-friendly, so I just went for simplicity and called the one below. The three befores produce well-known coursing orders, then the middle, home, wrong have the same bells (3 and 5) running in and out three times, and then there's an easy finish with three homes. Gareth commented at the end that he thought it was quite favourable for 3-6...
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