Celebrating the UF Carillon’s 40th Anniversary

I was a student here in 1979 when it was
purchased and installed. It was very exciting to see the bells when they
unloaded them and laid them on the ground, and then hoisting them up and just
praying that the cable didn’t snap. Because they weighed, some of the big
bells, weighed so much. Just–it was just exciting, and we couldn’t wait to get up
there and play it when it was finally adjusted to where we could. The best part of
playing the carillon was knowing what an icon Century Tower is for the school. Even
recently, “Florida’s in the top 10 universities,” there’s a picture of Century Tower and just to know that that is part of what the University Florida
is and to play that instrument that’s housed in that tower was an honor and it still is an honor. I think it just makes me feel like
more of a part of the campus culture, you know? Also I think it’s really fun when
we play our special recitals on like Valentine’s Day or Halloween where we
dress up in costumes and play fun Professor Bodine said at one point if I don’t practice for one day I can tell, if
I don’t practice for two days the people around me can tell, if I don’t practice
for three days everybody can tell. That responsibility of knowing so many people
can hear you, it really impresses on you the importance of practicing. I think the
nature of the carillon is that it touches certain emotions of people’s day, whether they’re feeling happy or sad when they walk by the tower and I think the sound sort of enhances
that emotion. So I think it’s kind of an emotional instrument. When I was a student, I don’t think people knew that there were live humans
up there playing the bells. I think they thought it was a computer or a recording.
I think many students did not realize that that’s a performer up there. What’s
really exciting about teaching carillon is so few people know anything about it,
so it’s a blank slate. Every once in a while you’ll get someone who has past
carillon experience, but most of the time they don’t know anything about it, they
hear the carillon across campus and they’re kind of intrigued about it and
then they find out that you can actually play it. So the person that comes to
study carillon has already got a little bit of a love for the instrument and so
you’re working with somebody that’s already invested in it before they even
start taking lessons. You don’t have to be a music major to play in the carillon anyone can join. I feel like people always think like, “oh, it’s
scary, I have to play for everyone.” It’s not. People are like super forgiving and everyon’s super nice in studio, so don’t be afraid to like try out. When I started to
play there were no other students playing, it was just me. I’m so pleased to
know that many students now are playing the carillon, many students from colleges
all across this university are part of the tradition, and that music is
happening on a regular basis. It’s not a rare thing for the carillon to be played anymore. It’s a tradition that’s alive and well.
And I’m very thankful to know that.

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