Senior Alma Clark recently made an impression on the KO community by playing her trumpet in front of the whole upper school as a member of the Jazz Band.
She first started playing the trumpet in sixth grade. “I played for a little while then after some time I joined my middle school jazz band, and I have been playing jazz ever since,” she said.
Alma’s middle school took part in a Regional and All State program, and when she was in eighth grade, Alma was a member of the advanced All State Symphonic Band. When she came to KO as a freshman, Alma was only in the concert band, but it did not take long before she tried out and got accepted to the Jazz Combo.
Alma was up for a huge change, though, firstly because jazz does not use typical sheet music like a concert band. It follows a loose format where there is a head, which is the tune, followed by about thirty seconds of playing, then everyone else using the same chords as the first part with improvisation. Alma enjoys the format of the music. “It gives you a set of tools, then you have to use them,” she said.
According to Creative Arts Department Chair Todd Millen, Alma has greatly improved as an improvisational player.“She takes time to listen the playback and learn all her chords and scales,” he said. This is important for improv. “Within music, it is all about finding your own style and imitating others, so everything is new, but over the past few years, her palette has grown and she can play even more,” Mr. Millen continued.
Since he has taught Alma for three years, Mr. Millen has been able to work with her and understand how she grows and develops as a player. “Alma’s a person that takes everything she does very seriously and does it the best of her ability, so for me it has been fun to see her instrumental growth because whenever I give her a task and a completion date, it is always done,” he said.
In the Jazz Band, Mr. Millen said he likes to use the analogy of a crock pot vs. microwave. “A lot of people tend to operate on the microwave mentality, meaning they have to do something now then it is done, but Alma does not,” Mr. Millen said. “She realizes that she has to do something over time, slowly. And the result is awesome when she does that. She takes her time making sure it is done, and done well.”
Alma has embraced being a musician and has picked up lots of other instruments over the years such as keyboard, harmonica, and she has even taught herself electric guitar! Recently she got a drum set to add to the list.
Although this is Alma’s last year playing at KO, she has quite a future. “Alma is still a growing student musician and she has a bucket load of talent. The sky is her limit if she learns to dig for herself,” Mr. Millen said.