People spend a whole lot of time hating on the carillon bells, but, as a carillon player myself, I take offense to that. Sure, they can be annoying, but, from a practical perspective, the bells offer benefits to everyone on campus. So, for the carillon listeners out there I have compiled a pragmatic list of conveniences to convince you that these bodacious belles are worth falling for.
Keeping your GPA up
We at the Carillon Society know how much a student’s GPA matters to them and would hate to see that plummet because one is sleeping in too often. That’s why we make sure that the bells can be heard loud and clear everywhere on campus as early as 8:00 AM. Yes, that’s right, 8:00 AM! Sleeping until noon on a Saturday is something you can find on a SUNY campus but not at our esteemed university.
Who needs a watch?
For many students, it’s Big Brother’s alarm bell reminding you where to be at what time. “Crap…I’m late!” are commonly heard lyrics on the quad when the bells strike on the hour. You can’t get away from the ringing even if you wanted to. They are like the fundraisers as you enter Wilson Commons: you can’t ignore them even if you try.
Time is in your control
You have an assignment due at 4:00 PM? The carillon is even better than the “Song of Time.” Just sprint up to the bell tower, play the beginning cadence, then have the low C clang once. Wow! It’s magically 1:00 PM now! So, when you talk to your professor, just blame it on the bells for throwing off your schedule.
You become a secret agent
To get to the carillon room, you have to go to a secret entrance that even professors who have been with the University for 30 years cannot find. The elevator itself is damp and musty and moves as slow as the lines in Danforth. You get the sinking feeling that you’re in a death trap after your professor calls you up. Assuming you arrive (which fortunately I have every time so far), the room itself is cold and clammy. You can’t take snapchats and brag to your friends about where you are since it’s a “secure” location.
Be a slacker, but still sound awesome
Far too often, people find out that I play piano and the follow up question is, “Oh, how long have you been playing?” (Translation: are you any good?) I answer “nine years” and they say, “Nice, and there happens to be a piano right here. Could you play a song for me?” (Nine years? She better be able to play super-complicated songs and not get distracted when I start a conversation with her.) With carillon, you can play a simple melody and it’ll sound awesome. Nevertheless, you have the ability to create an idealistic image of yourself.
Bragging about it
The inside of the bell tower is a mystic place and must be protected. We have put these precautionary measures in effect to insure that the bells are kept in outstanding condition.
1. The only way up is that well-aged elevator. It’s like stepping into an amusement ride where the operator is at the top, deciding your fate.
2. We have a security system that will beep every time you come inside it without the code.
3. Picture-taking is strictly prohibited to avoid the use of inappropriate subtitles.
Naturally, this provides for much intrigue for what the inside looks like. So, when you mention that you play the carillon, people often ask what it’s like up there.
Depending on how naive your audience is, this one can be fun. We use this guide to provide the perfect response:
1. If your audience is full of prospective students:
It’s a large, hollow room with great engravings like an old church. In the center is George Eastman’s tomb. You go up a great spiral staircase to the bells arranged in a circle. Since there are fifty bells in the carillon there are 25 students, and each is in charge of hitting two bells. The professor is in charge of conducting us.
2. If they are seniors who can see into your soul:
Okay fine, it’s just a wooden box…well it’s suspended so that you can’t see or hear the bells. We use speakers to hear them. The carillon is set up like an organ and plays the bells for us.
Now that you know all the tips and tricks of the bells, the Carillon Society would love for you to join us and make UR “ever better.”
Gallagher is a member of
the class of 2018.