Music may be an art, but for Cornell's chimesmasters, it's also a full-body workout, including a 161-stair climb to the top of McGraw Tower, and muscle-burning effort to depress the hand and foot levers that ring the bells.
Each spring several dozen students compete in a ten-week program to become chimesmasters. During this time, they learn the "Cornell Changes," a 549-note rag that has been played at each morning concert since 1869. Ultimately, just a handful are selected to become one of the ten students who play three daily concerts plus special events, such as Halloween and Valentine's concerts and weddings.
The more than 2,000 arrangements in their repertoire include Schubert and Scott Joplin, as well as "The Mickey Mouse March" and original compositions by former chimesmasters.