Ringing technique is everything! As directors, we spend countless hours in rehearsal. We are not only there for teaching music skills, mastering a score and readying for a performance. We may also be creating community, fostering social skills, motivating and ministering. It’s hard to believe that we do this all in an hour or two each week.
For many, the largest portion of our time is dedicated to teaching notes and coaching eye-hand coordination. However, the underlying component to having our ringing ensemble work as one unit or instrument and achieving the highest musical results is proper ringing technique.
Taking the time in the beginning to introduce and reinforce good technique to ringers will lead to quicker musical results in the end. “Beginning” may have different meanings depending on your situation – new ringers, new program year or each new rehearsal.
Here are some things to consider and focus upon for your fresh start:
Ringing – The flick of the wrist is just the beginning of the tone. How we move the instrument determines the musicality of the tone. Where we hold the instrument while we ring it – low or high in the plane – reinforces its identity as melody or harmonic support.
Damping – In music, a rest can be more important than the notes played. Be sure that your ringers are damping properly so that the note is cleanly damped exactly when it should be.
Arm extension – Before ringing, the arm extension should match the duration of the note so that the instrument may be brought back to the shoulder for damping with the tempo of the music. For example, in a moderate tempo, a whole note is equivalent to extending the whole arm; a half note is equivalent to extending at the elbow, etc.
Precision ringing – Be sure your ringersbreathe together before playing a chord so that all instruments strike at once.
With the foundation of good ringing technique, your musical success will be easily built.