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Wednesday, 25 May 2016

My First Time... Bell Ringing

On Campanology

"Bell ringing", I thought. "That'll be good exercise" I thought...

I have a really nostalgic, sentimental attachment to the sound of our local church bells, and how they ring out every 15 minutes, not to mention the joyous sound they make to accompany such occasions  as weddings. I'm not at all religious, but these ancient sounds speak more to me of community than worship. 

I had in mind that bell ringing would be great physical exercise, and a bit of a challenge to the part of the brain that learns patterns and timing, much like playing anything musical is.

bell ringing for exercise
The church bells inside this tower are huge!

I intended to write this post some time ago, after my first session bell ringing. But, to be honest, I was slightly perplexed after that first hour and didn't know what to make of it- as a craft or an exercise. 

However, I've been to a couple of sessions now, and I am beginning to get a small understanding- despite not having actually heard myself ringing a bell as it has been silenced to save the neighbours any annoyance.  

Is it fun?

Well... sort of. I suspect bell ringing is a lot of fun once you have reached a standard of competency and can understand enough to work in a team and create beautiful patterns. This takes time though, and if I am honest I am finding the learning somewhat frustrating. 

bell ringing for fitness
The bells are all hung at different angles,
because they actually move the tower when they ring

on campanology for fitness
Church bells: nostalgic, romantic... complicated!

Is it good exercise?

Given that I have only rung for an hour at a time, my interpretation of this is a little bit limited, but my impression is this: if you lead a sedentary lifestyle, I would imagine that standing on your feet, engaging your core to balance yourself, and raising your arms above your head to pull down continuously would be a welcome challenge to your fitness. 

I, however, have not found bell ringing physically hard work. If anything I have a tendency to over-pull, but this in itself is a challenge to me to learn how to be more controlled and precise, as I come to understand more about the rhythm of both of the strokes of the bell. 

Precision and coordination are also involved in moving the rope in such a way as to give it a smooth movement up and down- if for no other reason than to be able to catch it when you want to. 

church door

Do I recommend it?

Given that bell ringing is by its nature a team exercise, I would say that if you can find yourself the right teacher and a social crowd, and you have some time to dedicate to learning about what is a really complicated craft, then I think you are likely to enjoy bell ringing.

Personally I have not made up my mind whether I will stick with it...

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