Learning at St Clement's

Of course we need some bells first, but once that obstacle has been overcome we hope to provide the ideal location for everyone, from those who want to find out what it is about to advanced ringers trying to perfect their technique.

The first step will be to come in to the church which will be open at regular times on most days of the year.  There will be informative displays and someone to talk to.  Each day there should be a demonstration, bookable in advance, showing how bells work and how they are rung, with an explanation of simple change-ringing.  If you were only going to be in Cambridge for a day you could book a 30 minute introductory lesson.  To make any real progress will take a lot longer, and a much cheaper rate will be available to those who pay in advance for a minimum of five lessons.

During teaching sessions the bells will not be audible outside the church.  Ties will be put on the clappers to stop the bells ringing.  In the ringing chamber a computer simulated sound will be heard at exactly the right moment when the bell should ring.  If a number of trainees are practising independently at the same time, the sound of an individual bell will be able to be heard through headphones.

Once you can handle a bell safely without a teacher watching and helping all the time, you will be able to move on to supervised practice with a teacher watching over two or more trainees.  With a simulator and headphones there is no limit to the advanced techniques that can be practised.

The Bells of St Clement’s will also be available to those who want to come in groups to learn or practise.  These might be group visits from another church, with their own experienced ringers to supervise.  Often in Cambridge they will be groups of students who have joined the Cambridge University Guild, which provides tuition for students of all ages at any of Cambridge’s universities or further education colleges.

It will be necessary to make a charge for all ringing and tuition to cover the manager’s salary, volunteers’ expenses, the running and maintenance costs of the bells and to make a contribution to the church’s costs.  The charges will be kept as low as reasonably possible and we do not want to discourage anyone who genuinely wants to learn how to ring.  We also want to ensure that the standard of teaching is high as that can greatly affect the time it takes to become proficient and the enjoyment of learning.  Our teachers will be expected to have a qualification from the Association of Ringing Teachers.  We will also be providing less experienced teachers with the opportunity to gain the qualification, but only under the watchful eye of someone who is already qualified.