Teaching at the Hereford Ringing Course is mostly done in small groups: we aim for five or six students per group, with plenty of helpers. In all groups there are more helpers than students! The most elementary groups assume you can ring rounds and no more, whilst at the "top end" there are usually groups studying Stedman Caters and Surprise Major. However, we do draw the line before 8-spliced!
We start with a theory session on Thursday afternoon. This is an opportunity for tutors and students to get to know each other and discuss their aims for the course. Helpers will often be at this session too. This is followed by a practical ringing session on Thursday evening. This is a "get to know-you" session, where group leaders can assess the students (and helpers) in their care.
Friday and Saturday follow a similar pattern: a group theory session where you will receive tuition in your chosen method(s), followed by a practical. The whole group then goes to a pub for a lunch break, before going on to another practical session. Back in college in the afternoon there are general lectures. In the evenings, there are opportunities for developing specific ringing skills (e.g. handling clinics, listening and timing, conducting) and general ringing.
The final practical is on Sunday afternoon, by which stage the group leader hopes to see that plenty of progress has been made.
As well as the practicals and theory sessions, there are various other activities. Every course we pay a visit to the belfry of Hereford Cathedral. For many, this is the highlight of the weekend. It should be stressed that the Cathedral bells are "characterful" and "interesting", which means they are not easy to ring! But most students can get to have a go at rounds on 10 if they want. As an alternative to the Cathedral, there is usually general ringing at other towers in the area.