Wrist snap
Wrist braces

Wrist snap

Sueda said:
     > Paul Kinney writes about how he teaches ringing
     > basics:
     >> Basic Ring
     >> . Bell moves in a circle - down, out, up, back
     >> . Lead with the handle, then snap wrist and rebound
     >>   a far side of circle
     > This is what interests me.  You still use the term
     > *snap.*  And from what you wrote earlier in your
     > message, this meets the approval of Sue Berry and
     > the healthy ringing camp.
     > To me, the term *snap* more effectively communicates
     > of to a novice ringer what needs to be done at the
     > end the circle to get the bell to ring than phrases
     > like *push the bell,* etc.  Perhaps we can continue
     > to use the wrist snap as long as we're on the watch
     > for other unhealthy habits, like over extension?
     > Paul, when you teach the basics, do you specifically
     > address the dangers of carpal tunnel & tendonitis?
     > If so, could you elaborate some more?
I can be silent no more on this subject. I did some major research on wrist snapping (what I refer to as the "Salvation Army Ring") and other techniques in 1986 and again in 1990. Results were published in OVERTONES in 1991(?) and revised in 1995(? -- sorry, I don't remember). "Wrist snapping" as had been generally practiced does many bad things physically and aurally:
  1. Pulls the tendon on the upper side of the forearm (sorry again: I forget the technical name of the tendon). Ringers who wear the "donut" support on their forearm do so because of wrist snapping. Great way to develop repetitive strain injury(ies)!
  2. One loses control of volume of the bell strike due to inconsistent flexibility of the wrist. The flexation varies dramatically due to many, many factors such as temperature, fluid intake, etc., etc.
  3. Creates tension throughout the hand/arm/neck/shoulder/back support system.
  4. The striketone (the initial percussive sound of the bell) is lost to the audience because snapping the [wrist] puts the casting in the wrong relationship to the audience: the sound goes into the pad/music and ringers face (I sound great -- to me!) but not the audience due to the angle of the casting. Audience finally hears the primetone (the resonance after the striketone) and doppler effect (due to plane shift) once the bell is upright above the acoustic barrier of the music stand. At best, the audience hears the bell kind of growl. We want this effect with a tower swing (does anybody still write swings? Redundant, but that's another post!) but not as a standard ring. Directors, stand 20 feet away from your choir so you can hear what your audience/congregation hears. You might be surprised!
What I teach newby ringers is:
  1. Hold bell with thumb, second and middle fingers (4th and 5th fingers are just relaxed. We use them for something else later) with the thumb in line with the forearm;
  2. Using the arm, move bell away from the body and back towards the body making sure the plane of the clapper travel is also in line with the arm;
  3. Collectively, the choir discovers the "strikepoint" (a June Beck term) which is uniformely above the acoustic barrier of music stands, etc. This is where the arm takes the bell (make sure arm does NOT overextend -- keep elbows lightly bent), stops, clapper strikes the casting, arm raises the bell above the head then lowers bell through "the American arc".
  4. Everyone counting *OUT LOUD* together (this builds community, increases sensorial learning, and programs the brain), ring a whole note. The apex of the arc (highest point, above the head) uniformly occurs on beat 3. Everyone should look like the Statue of Liberty (sans holding book!). This is, of course, for a whole note. 1/2 notes would use 1/2 arc, 1/4 notes - 1/4 arc, etc. 1/256 notes are rung immediately off the shoulder then back!

Most important: keep the arm, wrist and hand loose, flexible and relaxed. Concept is: "let the bell ring itself".

4th & 5th fingers: use as a "trigger" device for extra power when needed, and consistant repeated 1/8 or 1/16 notes. Be sure to accent strong beats with 1/8 notes, all beats with 1/16 notes.

Written by:

Doug Benton
Northern AZ University

Original was not saved in the archives and is lost.

Wrist braces

Paul Kinney says:
     > Doug Benton criticizes the snap:
     >>  4. The striketone (the initial percussive sound of
     >>     the bell) is lost to the audience because
     >>     snapping the [wrist] puts the casting in the
     >>     wrong relationship to the audience: the sound
     >>     goes into the pad/music and ringers face (I
     >>     sound great -- to me!) but not the audience due
     >>     to the angle of the casting.
     > When I ring with a snap, my bell doesn't tip over
     > much - the sound is still directed to the audience.
     > When I teach ringing with a snap, I also comment
     > that bells should not tip over. The bell travels
     > more from a tilted back position (so the clapper is
     > towards the back) to an upright position than from
     > an upright position to tilted forward.
It sounds to me like we are pretty much *doing* the same thing. The concept I use is: the wrist flexes because the inertia of the bell causes the wrist to flex when the arm stops and/or changes direction, but the wrist is not used to initiate the ring. Using the wrist to ring the bell focuses all the stress into the wrist, whereas using arm motion with a relaxed, flexible wrist spreads the stress throughout the support system of the arm, shoulder, neck and back. I use a wrist "whip" (passive action) I guess, rather than a wrist "snap" (active action).
     > Beyond saying that, I'm going sneak out the back
     > door.  Doug has done research (and I've heard his
     > presentation).  Sue Berry has done research.  I
     > haven't.  I haven't seen Sue's book either.

For Handbell's (another word for "Heaven's") sake, don't go sneaking anywhere! As we all know, nobody has the final word on anything! In 1986, an orthopedic surgeon told me all ringers must wear wrist supports! That is what started me my quest. I required my ringers to wear supports from then until 1996 at the Albuquerque International Symposium when I asked Dr. Karen Mitchell what the latest was. She said that current thinking was to *NOT* wear supports (unless there was a specific reason to do so) because the muscles would not develop if there was no reason to develop, which there wouldn't be using supports. We stopped, and all our problems went away. I am here to tell you that when my choir was ready to ring, we were *ready* to ring! We would start with athletic tape, go to Dr. Scholls Mole Skin and Mole Foam (depending on range of bells), then supports, then gloves. In retrospect, it's amazing to me we were able to ring at all, let alone accomplish what we did!

We no longer wear supports. At Bay View, I rang D1-B2 (yeah, these are *big* puppies!), along with Scott Panzani, Barb Silvey and Andy Struble. I brought with me bicycle gloves (great padding where it's needed!), wrist supports and double gloves. Understand, I don't ring as often now as I once did, and thought I needed the wrist supports. I used them last year and my wrists hurt all the time. After the first rehearsal this year, I was in pain, took them off and soaked my wrists, like I faithfully always did. Next rehearsal I didn't use them at all, and I *forgot* to check myself to see if I was in pain! Even though I am the old man that I am (though I can *still* 4ih the 2's!), I will no longer wear supports nor recommend them to anyone else.

     > From my discussions with Sue, she does have points
     > of disagreement with Doug. I'll have to refer you to
     > her book.
Sue Berry and I discussed many things when she came to Area XI's F/C in Albuquerque. Her research is much more current than mine, and I have great respect and admiration for her for what she is doing for our instrument. I am anxiously awaiting publication of her book. I would highly recommend every body get it when it's available.

Written by:

Doug Benton
Northern AZ University
28 Aug 1998

Archived original can be found at: Wrist Snap and Wrist Supports Revisited