If you’re wondering who’s behind the sound of that enthusiastic quad drum on the field, you’re probably wondering about freshman Clark Parmenter. Drumline and music are Clark’s domain. He feels at home in that rhythm, whether it be a timpani drum’s percussive roar or a snare’s attentive snap.
“I’ve always liked music since I was young,” Clark tells us. “It’s always been something that I’ve wanted to do.” He credits his family with supporting his passion. In addition to teaching the discipline required to keep up a consistent cadence, they’ve also directly contributed to his love for percussion, as he always receives a drum accessory at Christmas. He excitedly describes one Christmas Day when his parents gifted him an entire drum set. We imagine the drum licks he comes up with are appealing to his three-year-old sister Nora, whose first memories of her brother are now filled with a dynamic and colorful noise.
Beyond the shadow of the drum stand, Clark is interested in geography. “I like being able to point something out on a map. I think that’s really fun. I like to know about the things around me,” he explains. He enjoys traversing that geography and dreams of a day when he’s a part of the University of Illinois’ marching band and can travel across the United States. So far, his notable trips have been to Virginia to see family, and he adores that part of the country. His other academic interests include dabbling in history, as he loves to learn about the evolution of high school marching bands over the years.
In Clark’s view, music is synonymous with friendship. He likens Vandalia’s high school band to a series of friendships built up to “community.” If you asked Clark’s friends about him, he says the students from the upper grades would regard him as their “favorite freshman.” Because of its ready-made sense of community and the jubilance of melody-making, he wishes more people were interested in music. “I really wish that for people around the world,” he elaborates. He argues that if you increased the number of people who wanted to make music, you’d be left with larger, louder bands, a description of a utopian world for music lovers like Clark.
His current aspirations are to audition for drum major when he reaches his junior year. “That’s something I’ve been interested in doing. Auditioning and going to summer camps. The pipeline between drum major and band director is very strong,” Clark says. It’s a pipeline he’d like to enter, as he hopes to become a band director one day. He looks forward to applying for band scholarships, and though he says he won’t abandon academics unrelated to band in college, he “really wants to put a focus on” music after high school.
Clark tells us that people in Vandalia often talk about living “in [their] own little bubble.” The bubble, he says, has its pros and cons. On the positive side, the community is stronger in small areas like his hometown. On the negative, he says, “everything feels amplified.” “When something happens,” he clarifies, “You can’t say it doesn’t really matter. Everyone’s in a kind of friend group.” We’re aware that Clark already knows this, but one thing that draws a community together is to march to the beat of the same drum, encircling a percussive center, similar to a beating heart. Our tribal ancestors intuitively gathered like this. Though we’ve split into our respective niches, we think Clark is onto something about music and community: you can’t say it doesn’t matter if you’re but one note in a larger melody.