Using failure to progress

For the first time ever, we failed to complete a single quarter peal at a Scottish Handbell Day.  And yet, it was a very successful event.  How are both of those statements true? 

We have been spreading the conducting load around a little lately, in an effort to develop our local Albany Quadrant band into more rounded handbell ringers.  But I am still an unconfident conductor, and can just about put the calls in and keep myself straight.  And that with a confidant band.  When I have been  putting the bobs in with a less than confident band, really it has been a disaster from the first call, and has just been an unhappy stressful experience for everyone.  On those occasions I have handed over the calling to someone else just to get something round.

So, my first session involved calling a quarter of Plain Bob Minor, and it started as you might expect.  And it went on in the same way as ever - which was me miscalling it over and over again, or getting tied in knots trying to put someone back on track.  Each time, we stopped, we discussed what happened and started to work out strategies for getting past that particular sticking point. 

Much of our supportive discussion centred on resilience, and encouraging each other to just stick to the lines, and not to worry too much about what the other people were doing.  And I tried not to get too wound up about the extent to which I couldn't put anyone right. 

Then we did the time-honoured tactic of throwing ourselves at the project over and over again, and a nervous learner saved us once by saying where she thought she was instead of assuming she was the one that was wrong (she wasn't).  And I missed a bob again, but kept going anyway and put it back on track with a bit of improvisation.  And it still never came round.  But the ringing, for a time, was much more confident. 

Our nervous learner confessed that she felt she had a much better understanding of what was happening in the method and in the calls than the previous times when she had been successfully talked through a quarter.  And it did feel like real progress was being made, once we threw out the feeling that we HAD to score.  After a cup of tea, we probably would have scored a quarter, but time was moving on our little band was scattered into the next session.  Where very similar things happened.  And so on.