Julie McDonnell Slow Course Minor

Last night our Albany Quadrant band joined the many hundreds of bell ringers who have rung quarter peals to support the campaign 'Strike Back Against Blood Cancer', by ringing a quarter peal of Julie McDonnell Slow Course Minor (named after the originator of the campaign).

The method itself is simple enough to learn, and is a twin-hunt method - meaning one of the place bells always does the same thing every lead.  Or, as we came to view it, 'trapped in the slow work until released by a bob'.

Julie McDonnell Slow Course Minor by blueline

You can view more information here too:


It is quite a static method, which for handbell ringers, is not always a good thing, and if you are used to methods with fixed frontworks like Kent or St Clements, then you will find this frustrating.  It take some concentration to lead six time in a row without attempting to swap with the second hunt bell (who makes seconds over you).  And there are little pieces of 'normality' which can also mislead the inattentive ringer into a more familiar pattern.

But, for a beginning band of handbell ringers, there is some merit in this method, which can help you develop some skills you can use in other methods.  Also it can make a change from the usual improvers repertoire.  Finally, the plain course is only 4 leads long, so not too much learning to do.

Let's take a look at some features:

  1. The treble pair is completely fixed in the plain course, but gives a new handbell ringer something different to do other than coursing.  This can be a very easy practice at ringing two blue lines, or two different paths.
  2. Notice the 3-4 places, which offers an opportunity to practice making places, where your other bell is doing something very straightforward (leading for a long time, or just making places at the back). 
  3. A little place notation as a pattern practice too:  note that when thirds is made, fifths place bell is always lying behind in sixths place.  Whenever fourths is made, there is a dodge at the back. 
  4. Practice awareness of the lead end and the half lead:  the 3-4 dodge at the lead end is matched by a dodge at the back (the middle dodge of three).  The 3-4 dodge at the half lead (when the treble is lying behind in sixths place), a bell is making fifths place.

Calling a quarter peal

For novice conductors, this is tricky to call, and there are a lot of calls to make.  We found information about quarter peal compositions quite hard to find, so we are sharing what we know here.

  • The bob is a 1-4 place.  The bell that is trapped in the slow work runs out and becomes a working bell, starting with 3-4 places.  The bell that has just finished its 3-4 places runs in and becomes the second hunt bell (doing the slow work).  The bell that has just lead 6 times, makes the bob in fourths place, and repeats that lead.
  • A Single is a 1-2-3-4 place.  In the composition that we used, it comes right at the end to bring it round, so don't stress about this too much.

Here is a link to the composition that we used:  http://bb.ringingworld.co.uk/comp.php?id=2253673

Give it a go

So have a try at it, and if you can (and soon) ring a quarter peal.  The campaign goal is to ring 350 quarters by Christmas, and there is a substantial amount of money at stake if it makes that goal.

If a quarter is beyond your band, ring a plain course or two, and put it up on BellBoard as an associated performance, and add it to the campaign event (http://bb.ringingworld.co.uk/event.php?id=4574).  Then make a donation.

For more information about Bellringers Strike Back Against Blood Cancer, check out Julie McDonnell's campaign website.


Well done!

It's good to see that handbell ringing continues while I am away. What a curious method.