Looking back and looking ahead

We're a little way into the New Year now, so we can review progress over the last year and see what's coming up.

The highlight, of course, was our peal of Horton's Four. We also rang peals of Cambridge, Yorkshire and Lincolnshire Royal with Julia, and Pudsey with Mike and Ian. Continuing the Surprise Royal project, we had three unsuccessful attempts at a peal of London Royal, which we have now decided to shelve for now.

We rang 6 quarters at Albany Quadrant and 4 at Angela's house. That's the lowest total since 2009. This is partly explained by only having one handbell day, and not scoring any quarters on the handbell day that we did have. However, we have made good progress working our way through the standard Surprise Major methods with Angela inside. We are getting close to 200 quarters at Albany Quadrant, so there will be a retrospective blog when we get there.

We have plans for the next two Mondays: a quarter of London Major with Angela inside, and then a peal of London Major with Julia; after that she wants to ring Bristol away from the tenors. Last Monday we had a productive eight and ten bell practice with Jenny and Marcus, while Tina was away. That gives us a potential twelve bell band if we can get everyone together again in the future.

Last autumn we also had a Surprise Minor practice with Robin; we have talked about launching another 41 Surprise Minor project, but as always it's a question of finding enough evenings to ring with all these different combinations of people. 

Now for another sense of looking ahead.

When we were practising last Monday, we rang Cambridge Royal several times. Everyone can ring the method, but often the rhythm is choppy and I get a sense that there is too much deciding at the last moment which place to ring in. Going back to Nick's principle of letting the handstrokes ring themselves, I have been analysing my thought processes and I believe that at each backstroke, at the latest, I have a clear idea of where I will be at the next backstroke. On tower bells we know that we have to think ahead in order to get the right amount of pull, especially on heavier bells, but I am now realising that this is also essential for handbell ringing. To get nice smooth rhythmical ringing, we have to have a plan that looks at least a whole pull ahead. Like previous comments on handbell ringing style, it's another example of handbell ringing and tower bell ringing being more similar than we might assume.

For another sense of looking back, this time as something we shouldn't do: I often remind the band not to dwell on mistakes after they have happened; what's gone is gone, and it's important to maintain focus on the ringing ahead. I find that this takes a conscious effort, but it's important.

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