A building. A girl. A piano. A legacy. These four words describe Jennie Clark’s experience here at Brigham Young University—Idaho.
The Eliza R. Snow building is home to many performance majors at BYU-Idaho, but to Jennie Clark it’s more than that, it’s a sanctuary of peace and calm.
At 5:15 a.m. Jennie’s alarm go off. Unlike many other college students, who would be taking advantage of a few more hours of sleep. Jennie, would wake up to prepare for her day and by 6 a.m. she would be out the door walking to the Snow building. To practice the piano for two or three hours before her classes started.
“I like the peaceful and calm that come from practicing in the mornings, it was just me and the janitors and no other competition from other instruments.” Jennie said.
Her major is Piano Performance. For this major it is very competitive and very high stress, because the students practice on their own for two or three hours then a one-on-one with a piano teacher for lessons. At the end of the semester the students have a scheduled time in which they perform in front of a panel of professors from the Performance Art board, and that is part of their final grade. “It’s so scary!” Jennie said when she explained the process of her final.
“I did most of my performances in the Recital hall, but when playing in the Barrus Concert Hall I felt a lot of excitement but a lot of nervousness, being in a room that big with a lot of people gives me an adrenaline rush.” Said Jennie “It is opposite than every morning in the quiet.”
The talent of Eliza R. Snow is evident in the many students that study in the building, and Jennie is no exception. The Snow building is the only building on BYU-Idaho’s campus that is named after a female.
“The talent in the snow building is beyond belief! There are so many dedicated individuals who spend countless hours trying to develop their talents. There is so much dedication that goes into it!” Jennie exclaimed.
Another fascinating feature is the Ruth H. Barrus Concert hall, this hall is one of the most iconic features about BYU-Idaho. The Barrus Concert Hall doesn’t only seat 700 people but also holds a Rufatti Organ that has 3,833 pipes. If you go into the Hall you notice the angular walls as well as the bricks aren’t aligned, this is so that the sound bounces around the room for better hearing for all who are in attendance in performances on the stage.
One time I was with Jennie when she had to drop something off at her locker in her practice room. When we walked in I immediately noticed that the practice room was small, it barely fit a grand piano, 6 half-length lockers, and a bench with room comfortable for only one person. She played a little part of a song that she was working on, this wasn’t the first time that I have heard her play. But her fingers so gently but firmly hit the piano keys having the sound fill the air.
“All I know about Eliza R. Snow is that she was one of the wives of Joseph Smith. She was the sister of Lorenzo Snow and she was the 2nd general relief society president. She wrote a lot of the hymns. Because of her musical contributions, the snow building was named after her!” Jennie said.
The Eliza R. Snow Center for the Performing Arts, was named after an impactful historian and poet. Eliza also served as the second president of the Relief Society for the Church of Jesus of Latter-Day Saints. The Snow Building is the only building on campus named after a female. This building has several practice room and each of the group practice doors weights 400 lbs. to reduce the sound outside of the room.
If one would walk the halls of the Snow building around 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. you can hear many different instruments being played, lines being practiced for productions, and professors teaching about Bach and Beethoven. The Snow building since its expansion in 2004 has invited many more students to make the building a place where they go to do homework.
“The snow building is definitely my favorite on campus because I learned and grew so much inside of that building. I was stretched to capacities that I didn’t feel were possible, but with Heavenly Fathers help I was always able to meet my challenges with faith and hope!” Jennie said.
The Snow building has a different feeling to it than others on BYU—Idaho’s Campus. You can really feel this sense of peace and calm while you feel the dedication like electricity in the air. Different sounds fill the air with a story, behind every musician and artist there is a story of where they started and how far they have come.
“I started playing piano at 4 years old because my mother wanted me to! She signed me up for lessons and I was kinda dragged along! I wish I could say it was because I loved the piano at a young age, but I was forced into it!” Jennie said.
“My mom sat by me every day when I practiced until I was 11 years-old” Jennie explained, “She was so dedicated to helping me!” That dedication that her mother invested in Jennie is apparent in Jennie’s dedication to practicing.
From talking with Jennie, she explained that her mother taught all of her older siblings play the piano, and when it came to be Jennie’s turn, her mother decided to have her take lessons from someone else and just sit there with Jennie when she practiced.
“There wasn’t a particular note or chord that was difficult for me. But I do remember that when I first learned how to play both hands at the same time, it took me quite a while to get used to it. Also, when I learned how to play the pedal, it was a struggle for a while!” said Jennie.
Jennie is a great example how practice and diligence can help us develop talents that we want to have or in Jennie’s case forced into it but then discover more talent the more you practice. Nothing is ever given to us we need to be constantly working and practicing to get something right.
Other features about the Snow building is its 200 seat Recital Hall, The Black Box Theater, and the 500 seat Drama Theater. The Snow Building is located at the very north center of BYU-Idaho’s campus, in 1980 it was dedicated by President Faust. After renovation and the new additions to the Snow Building, that doubled it in size, it was rededicated April 2007 by Elder Eyring.
Jennie has played in many different settings throughout her life, she served a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Fort Worth Texas. Jennie was asked by the mission president to play for various general authorities. Every time she would play it would make the audience feel a different way. Jennie has been able to understand how music affects her audience, to help them grow spiritually to be enlightened by music.
Another setting that Jennie has shared her talent with is her High School Choir, she would play for them and sometimes with the orchestra. Jennie is not afraid to share her talent with others. She really understands the parable of the talents in Matthew 25. She has been able to magnify her talent and gain more because she continues to work on goals and ambitions to accomplish them.
Jennie is just like any other 21-year-old girl, she likes to listen to music, and be with her family and fiancé. But when she is placed in front of a set of thin white and black piano keys, she proves that she isn’t like other 21-year-old girls, heads turn to see who is playing.
She is beautiful, tall, slender, and she has deep brown eyes that capture the good she sees in others. Jennie is one of the most positive person. She always is looking for the good in others. A feature that shows her dedication to playing the piano is her hands.
Her graceful hands glide over the keys to position themselves to play, and with confidence and strength you hear the power behind her playing the notes. The sound of the piano fills the air and Jennie shows her talent of hard work and commitment with every cord she presses.
The Eliza R. Snow building has been able to help and encourage many students including Jennie to have drive and ambition to be better than they were every day. This building has changed Jennie’s life, and as she said earlier “I was stretched to capacities that I didn’t feel were possible.” A building. A girl. A piano. A legacy. What seems impossible Jennie has been able to become so much better than she ever dreamed of.