Sara Blessing has made her mark on Graceland in a short time. She received the Alumni Award for Excellence in Teaching at the Commencement Convocation in May and, just a few days later, hopped on a bus to lead a cross country choir tour – a Graceland tradition that she has reinstated. She was surprised to win the prestigious award and more surprised when her students all donned T-shirts with #Blessed and her picture on them. She is indeed a blessing for Graceland!
Her students love her, but that doesn’t mean she is easy on them. Sara demands perfection from her musicians and requires long practices picking at the smallest details for each piece. Entrances, diction, tone and phrasing are rehearsed and perfected to pull the best out of the choir members. She knows what she wants and knows how to get to a perfect performance.
“The choir tour was an absolutely incredible experience. We not only saw beautiful landscape and met wonderful people, but the choir really bonded,” said Graceland soprano Amber Edwards ’17. “Professor Blessing is one of the best choir directors I’ve ever met. She is constantly inspiring all of us not just to sing a song but to feel the song. Before every song, she tells us about it. There was one time in particular that we were having a rough rehearsal, and she just sat us down and talked to us on a personal level. She helped us understand the song and how we are all connected within the song. As soon as we started singing again, we were no longer separate singers. We felt that connection. We could feel the song come together.”
With years of experience and preparation, Blessing brings excellence in teaching as well as vocal talent. Her faculty recital was an amazing experience – delighting her audience with a wide array of performance repertoire that had Carol Hall vibrating with her energy.
“Some of my most memorable life experiences are from singing in my undergraduate career in the Nordic Choir at Luther College,” explained Blessing. “Through our choir tours, both nationally and internationally, the experiences that I had were life changing. Being new to the music department at Graceland University, it is my goal to provide our choir singers with those same enriching and rewarding life experiences. It has been an absolute joy to join the Graceland faculty and spend my days conducting both the Graceland Concert Choir and Chamber Singers, as well as to coach the private vocal singers. In addition, I teach choral conducting and choral methods, diction, vocal pedagogy, aural training and applied lessons.”
Graceland’s Shaw Center is the perfect venue for this rising star in the performing arts faculty. The students who are under Sara’s influence most definitely realize that they’ve been “#Blessed.”