Thomas A. Alspaugh
Kaleidoscope ringing

Kaleidoscope ringing is a set of exercises for new ringers who can ring rounds but not Plain Hunt or methods. It is an alternative to Call Changes that focuses on the skills ringers need to hunt, dodge, and do the other work needed for hunting and methods. It is described in Lucas's booklet Kaleidoscope Ringing.

The exercises are shown here for the 2 and 3 in a band of four; however, they can be used for any number of three or more ringers (four or more is best) and exercise any pair of bells (except the treble unless the ringers on the treble and 2 can both lead) or even two or more pairs simultaneously.

The exercise names are long, so each one is called in two steps, at least initially (pages 11, 4, 16):

  1. The instruction: The name of the exercise (e.g. 2 and 3 make long places right in 2-3). Lucas recommends this be discussed before ringing begins as well, or (page 16).
  2. The command: Next handstroke at the handstroke before the exercise is to begin, or (presumably) Next backstroke for wrong exercises (page 17).

Later (pages 14-15) Lucas show examples of sequences, in which the instruction is the command.

Counting the compass

This is Lucas's term for counting each place in each row. He recommends that the ringer count the places where each bell is (or should be) sounding (page 19). Lucas recomments this practice begin as soon as the ringer starts ringing in rounds, saying there appears to be a window analogous to that for learning languages during which the learner's mind is receptive, or perhaps before the learner develops other less-effective habits instead.

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Figure 1. Long places right in 2-3

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Figure 2. Long places wrong in 2-3

Lucas says little else about how this counting is to be done. Presumably with four bells a ringer would count 1‑2‑3‑4‑1‑2‑3‑4‑uh, with the uh or comparable syllable for the handstroke pause.

Looking away after the blow is committed

Lucas recommends that a learner be taught to look away from the bell they are following as soon as his/her blow is committed (page 6, point 2).

Long Places

Long places are four blows in one place, then four blows in the other, until the conductor calls That's all.

The long places can be right, with the place changes occurring from a backstroke to the next handstroke (Figure 1), or wrong, with the place changes occurring from a handstroke to the next backstroke (Figure 2).

Lucas recommends that learners not count the blows 1‑2‑3‑4, as that will interfere with them counting the compass. Instead they should think of it as two full pulls, which don't have to be counted.

The goal is to give the ringers a chance to practice clean place changes, then settle down for a few blows to think about what just happened and prepare for the next place change. Long places of six or more blows are also mentioned (can't find the page) but offer little advantage, as with more blows the temptation (and need) to count the blows is greater, and four blows probably gives enough time to rest and recover between changes.

Long places corresponds to work such as Long 5ths in Plain Bob Doubles.

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Figure 3. (Short) places right in 2-3

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Figure 4. (Short) places wrong in 2-3

(Short) Places

Places, or short places as Lucas says learners naturally call them after ringing long places, are the standard two blows in the new place before two blows in the original place, repeated. Places may be rung right (Figure 3), beginning between a backstroke and a handstroke, or wrong (Figure 4), beginning between a handstroke and a backstroke,

Places are more challenging than Long Places of course, because there is only one stroke in which to settle down before the ringer has to exchange places again.

Places occur in many contexts, such as Leads and At The Back in Plain Hunt, and in Making 2nds in Plain Bob.

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Figure 5. Dodges in 2-3


The natural culmination of the progression from Long Places to Places is Dodges (Figure 5), in which the ringers exchange places at every stroke. While dodging can begin right (between backstroke and handstroke) or wrong (between handstroke and backstroke), the skills involved are the same in both cases so Lucas does not distinguish between them.

A dodge comprises an exchange of places and the return to the original places, two blows for each bell. On the same basis, a double dodge comprises four changes of place, and a triple dodge six changes. In Figure 5, if the bells stayed in place after the last line of the figure, they would have executed a double dodge.

Dodges appear in many methods, for example in Plain Bob.

Advanced works

Lucas briefly presents examples of other figures:

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Figure 6. Advanced figures

and then says Invent your own to provide practice of specific figures from whatever method is desired.



Gordon I. Lucas. Kaleidoscope Ringing. Central Council of Church Bell Ringers, 43 pages, 2004.

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