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English-Style Church Bell Ringing Comes to Groton School

The Groton School will host bell ringers from throughout the United States and Canada for a demonstration of change ringing on Friday, August 23 from 10 a.m. - noon. The ringers will be in the greater Boston area from Wednesday, August 21 to Sunday, August 25 for the North American Guild of Change Ringers’ Annual Meeting.

The ancient English art of change ringing requires mental agility, concentration, and teamwork. The ringers guide the massive bells through rapidly changing progressions of sonic permutations. The progressions can be short (a few minutes for practice exercises or to announce an event) or long (a few hours for a peal, the bell ringing equivalent of running a marathon, which consists of more than 5000 unique permutations).

Because the bells take over a second to swing through a full 360-degree arc, the ringers do not play songs, but rather ring methods. The methods, or rules for generating the permutations, vary in complexity, constantly providing challenges, even for expert ringers.

Since the bells must ring in tight coordination, the ringers develop a strong sense of interdependence, which develops strong interpersonal bonds and lasting friendships among the ringers.

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