Ya Like Jazz? — The University Singers Perform at JEN Conference

Ya Like Jazz? — The University Singers Perform at JEN Conference

While the majority of us were relishing out last days sleeping in, watching an embarrassing amount of Netflix and starting (or breaking) our 2018 resolutions, SNU’s University Singers were invited to Dallas to perform for some of the most esteemed jazz musicians in the world.

“My favorite part of being in U Singers is the way the music we sing bonds us together. We’re a close-knit group. It is such an honor to represent our school in this ensemble.” –Will Doughtery, junior music education major, 2nd-year member of U Singers.

From January 3rd through the 6th, the Jazz Education Network held its 9th annual jazz conference. People come from 28 different countries, all 50 states and many provinces of Canada to listen, perform and immerse themselves in this art form. JEN is a non-profit organization founded in 2008 in Chicago with the mission of “advancing jazz education, promoting performance and developing new audiences.” These professionals work extremely hard, come voluntarily and sacrifice secondary jobs and time with family to share their love and talent. (http://jazzednet.org/)

Rebekah Jeong, a fifth-year senior music ed. major (student teaching this semester) and fifth-year U Singers member, was at a loss for words in her thankfulness for the opportunity:

“It changed my life. All these incredible musical people that I really look up to, I got hear them play and sing. It was amazing.”

Every hour there were at least 3 different concerts going on. From 9 am until 11:30 pm, notes and rhythms, no two the same, filled every nook and cranny of the JEN conference.

This is the first time U Singers have ever been selected among other university ensembles to attend and perform at the JEN conference. These students and Dr. Jim Graves have been preparing since the first

Photo by Jake Dickerson

day of the fall semester. “We were pretty nervous about this gig,” Rebekah explained. Nerves continued to build, as they didn’t perform until the last day. On a scale of 1-10, Will rated his nerves at a 7. “One, I’m always nervous and two, because we were performing in front of some of the greatest jazz musicians in the WORLD, people.”

Going into this, Rebekah admitted that she was expecting perfection from these people. “I mean, I know this is heretical, but these musicians are kind of like gods in my field. So, the thing that stuck out to me the most was the very people I look up to came to see us perform, came and shook my hand and praised our work.”

At the end of the conference, the members of University Singers had a new sense of what it meant to be a jazz musician. Furthermore, they began to recognize a new sense of how to be a person who utilizes their craft for the joy of themselves and others, not for fame.

“Keep working at your craft and love it. And when you’re down, get back up and craft it again.” — Rebekah Jeong

A mantra to live by.

(Main Photo by Crystal Shaw)