AOTI: Kate Clark

Often known around campus as an incredibly versatile musician, an elite drummer, and the entertaining beatboxer of Groton’s a capella group The Maqupellas, Kate Clark ‘21 has established a long and lasting history of creative artistry and flexibility during her five years at Groton. A Jazz Band prefect, as well as one of the three leading music prefects, Kate demonstrates an exceptional commitment to not only music, but also to her leadership roles and responsibilities.

 

You are extremely involved within Groton’s extensive music programs. Could you run over a quick list of the instruments you play or have played and the leadership roles you have? 

 

Although I used to play the piano, I currently play the guitar, trumpet, and the drums. But I have a ton of instruments sitting in the back of my room that I like to play around with from time to time. Some interesting ones I have are the mandolin, banjo, and ukulele; my dad’s family is from the South, so it was expected that I “connect to my bluegrass roots” through these unique types of instruments.

At school, I’ve been a part of the jazz band since second form, and am now a jazz band prefect. We do this name-system called the Kings and Queens, which are basically the titles for the jazz band prefects—so I’m technically considered a Queen. I’m also part of the jazz combo, a smaller group within the jazz band that plays all kinds of music. I beatbox for the Maquepellas; I’m not a beatboxer, though, but it’s worth the experience. 

As for Groton involvement, I perform in postludes, Open Mic performances, and recitals. As one of the three lead music prefects, the other prefects and I are actually putting together a cool concert-series for the winter term by reaching out to outside musicians to play over Zoom. 

 

What started this continuing passion for the arts? 

 

When I was little (around four), I casually started playing piano like all my other siblings. It was a rule growing up that everyone had to play an instrument and so we got to choose which instrument we wanted to play. Only I kept adding instruments because I thought the idea of playing multiple ones was cool. 

When I got to Groton, I wasn’t planning on playing in the jazz band and doing much aside from the lessons. But the jazz band really needed a drummer in second form, and I was the only one who was willing to play…so I started drumming. At first, I wasn’t really good at it. But I still loved it, and the people there were great so I kept on at it. Then, slowly, I started to expand to other open music groups; through guitar lessons, I got invited to the guitar project. The Maqupellas needed a beatboxer and I stepped up to the occasion. I feel like a lot of this has been out of chance, but I’m really glad that I got lucky to join said groups and play whatever I can and want. 

 

Is there a specific memory from playing music at Groton that you hold dear as a musician? 

 

In third form, the jazz band went to China for a concert series. Like I said, at that time, I hadn’t really played jazz before I got to Groton and surely had no idea what I was doing. After that set of tours, I remember Kenji, the jazz band director, coming up to me and saying, “You’ve gotten so good! I can’t believe you’ve gotten this far.” After that tour, it made me very sure of myself. 

I thought, I can do this! At least I’m not awful at it. 

It might have been the most fun I’ve had playing with fellow Groton musicians. Unfortunately, we can’t do another tour this year due to COVID, but this memory was something really special. 

 

What is your favorite song to play, or an event that Groton holds?

 

I like Christmas Pops a lot because it’s the only concert we don’t have to dress up for. It’s more relaxed; with the conscience that I’m more relaxed, I can screw around more than usual, have much more fun and appreciate the music and vibes instead of having this big pressure of a serious event on your shoulders, like, “We’ve got parents here!” Yes, we’re playing music, but at the end of the day, we’re going to try and make it as fun as possible. In short, I like Christmas Pops because it’s a lot of laughing, not a lot of professionalism. 

 

How do you juggle all these diverse instruments?

It takes a lot of time because I’m actively doing three different music lessons, music groups, all the while trying to practice outside of them. I guess I juggle all my instruments because I love doing what I do. For example, the reason why I picked up the trumpet is because it has been something I’ve always wanted to do; it looks like a fun instrument (and it is). If it gets to the point where I don’t enjoy playing the instrument anymore, it would be kind of a pain to manage but because I like my music, it’s something I look forward to.

 

Do you have any future plans to pursue music in your later years after Groton?

Yeah. See, I can’t picture myself not playing music, so I’m gonna have to try and feel it out. When I go to college, even if it’s just taking my guitar with me and fiddling around with it by myself, I can’t imagine not playing music sometime in the future.