Conducting Techniques 2: Local Conducting

This is the second post in a short series on conducting techniques that I find useful for handbell ringing.

What I mean by "local conducting" is seeing which piece of work a bell is doing, and using that information to remind its ringer of the next work, if he or she seems to be less than confident. This is independent of any overall knowledge of which place bells that ringer should be ringing; it's purely a local observation.

For example, imagine that you are ringing Cambridge Major and everything seems to be fine at a lead end. You notice 8ths place bell coming down to 5-6 (perhaps because you are ringing 3rds place bell), but then 8ths place bell doesn't dodge, or dodges but doesn't stay in 5-6. Clearly the ringer needs to be reminded to do 5-6 places. This would be followed up a few blows later by the comment "treble's 5-6 up", not aimed at the treble but for the purpose of anchoring the 5-6 places. In the tower we do this all the time, but it's more difficult on handbells. Sometimes it happens that a ringer is actually ringing in the correct places, but seems worried, giving the impression that he is in the right places by luck and could go wrong at any second. In this case a confirmation of the work can be useful; for example it might be obvious from the structure of the method that he is going to come together in 3-4, or cross in 6-7, or something of the kind. Sometimes this can be done without even thinking about which place bells he is ringing.

This idea of local conducting becomes more systematic if it is explicitly linked to the structure of the method. In my own experience this happened when we were ringing spliced surprise minor, and I was constantly aware of the place notation of the methods. On 6, everything is more compact, more compressed, and everything follows more obviously from the position of the treble.