AUDIO: 4 years of sweat – 1 performance

By Megan Sas

Jenny Ley and Brittany Blazier (Photo by Megan Sas)

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MEGAN SAS: Brittany Blazier and Jenny Ley are performing a springtime-themed junior/senior vocal recital on Feb. 22, 2013. But what goes into the preparation for a recital of this sort? This is Megan Sas with the story.

[SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “Dans Les Ruines D’Une Abbaye” Blazier claps.]

SAS: Professor Joni Killian couldn’t be happier with Blazier and Ley’s dedication to their music.

PROF. JONI KILLIAN: “I really love to have my students get to this point. I feel very proud of the final product.”

SAS: Blazier and Ley have been working up to this moment their entire college careers. It’s the culmination of all their hard work, and they’re so excited to share it with an audience. Blazier says she practices about 20 hours per week.

BRITTANY BLAZIER: “Basically, the best way to prepare for a recital is just to practice and practice.”

SAS: Ley agrees.

JENNY LEY: “Practice. Practice makes perfect.”

SAS: Blazier has a funny story that proves just how important it is to practice. She sang a German song for a vocal test and ended up forgetting most of the words.

BLAZIER: “It had so many words. It had, like, at least two verses of just straight off “gibberish.” Like, it had so much German to it, and I didn’t really start studying it until like middle of the semester. And by that point, I was like, I mean I was trying my hardest, like I was in this very practice room going, ‘I’ve gotta learn this German, I have got to memorize this German!’ And I was like, ‘I’ve gotta remember this, I’ve gotta remember this.’ I get out onto the stage, and I forget pretty much all the German. So I literally made up German syllables pretty much for almost the whole song.”

SAS: Professor Killian stated her view on the girls’ preparation for this recital, sharing one of Blazier’s strengths with me.

KILLIAN: “She’s my memorizer. She just learns all kinds of music, and she can handle difficulty.”

SAS: Killian also shared a piece of Ley’s road-to-recital story.

KILLIAN: “For Jenny, who has autism, this has been, it’s four years of preparation to get to this point.”

SAS: Ley explained how she prepares, knowing she’s facing an obstacle that most singers don’t have to.

LEY: “The main thing here is rehearsing, rehearsing, and rehearsing. The main issue for me is posture, because sometimes I have, when I walk around in Meadows or everywhere on campus, I usually get hunched over almost.”

SAS: Blazier has a very specific method of practicing for performances.

BLAZIER: “Usually what I do is I figure out the melody line first, and then figure out the rhythms, and sometimes it helps to listen to a recording. And then I just basically plunk it out at the piano. You really have to study the music, and really understand not just the notes and rhythms, but, like what it actually means.”

SAS: Killian stated another secret to recital success.

KILLIAN: “I tell them they have to love everything they’re performing. You get to hear the best of all the things they’ve worked on.”

SAS: That fact is evident as you listen to this clip of Blazier and Ley practicing “Who Will Love Me As I Am?” from the musical Sideshow.

[SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “Who Will Love Me As I Am?”]

SAS: That selection is the last song in the recital, and the amount of practice that went into it is enormous. Out of curiosity, I asked Ley how long she’s been practicing and performing music.

LEY: “All my life, I had a passion for music. I have really, have loved to sing.”

SAS: With that strong of a commitment to her skill, Ley shared the ups and downs of preparation for an important performance like a senior voice recital.

LEY: “I have worked day and night on the practicing. But sometimes it can be hard on homework. But I try to, to make homework a priority too.”

SAS: Blazier agreed that her practice schedule isn’t the most ideal when it comes to getting homework done.

BLAZIER: “I’m not the best time manager, and, so that’s, that’s a real challenge for me, is to juggle, ten things in the air at once. Typically, I like to rank by what’s the nearest deadline. So, it is a real challenge to be hanging out with my friend across the hall and think, ‘Oh no, I have this assignment to work on, but I don’t really want to.’ Just, it’s really hard for me to be self-motivated. But, I really think that I have really good friends that are supportive. God definitely helps me to just kind of figure out what I need to do. I’m definitely not there yet, as far as being a good time manager. But I think that’s a big part about college. God’s first, and then once I put God first, everything else just kind of makes more sense.”

[SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “Dans Les Ruines D’Une Abbaye”]

SAS: But just because the rehearsal is finished, doesn’t mean the nerves won’t hit on recital day.

BLAZIER: “For something like this, I picture myself getting nervous about, you know, a full hour, at least. Maybe even the whole day I’ll be nervous.”

SAS: But Blazier knows how to deal with that from years of experience.

BLAZIER: “Basically try to mentally prepare myself, and definitely pray.”

SAS: Even if nerves strike, Blazier and Ley assured me that having an audience to hear them perform their recital will make everything worth it. Killian states that this recital isn’t just for music students, and if you haven’t gone to one before, that isn’t a problem.

KILLIAN: “If people are … have never gone to a vocal recital, this would be a great semester to go and hear some of their friends and colleagues and see what they’re doing in music.”

BLAZIER: “I would love anybody to come. You know, it doesn’t matter if, if you know Jenny or me, or have any interest at all, just feel free to come.”
SAS: Blazier and Ley invite everyone to come hear them sing on February 22nd at 7:30 p.m in Longaker Recital Hall. This is a free recital, and there will be refreshments served afterwards. This is Megan Sas reporting for the Huntingtonian.

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