MacLean juggles the chaos of her life with humor

Photo Illustration: Jilly Hall

Senior Mary Kate MacLean balances her life one activity at a time.

Between Marching Band, clubs and academics, juggling has become a way of life for senior Mary Kate MacLean. Despite all this chaos, however, MacLean still manages to balance all of her activities, schoolwork, family and religion in the mix.

What is your life like in general?

My life is an attempt to balance my schoolwork, my flute and my religion. This leads to some interesting combinations of all three. For example, I read my Bible in Spanish to practice for the upcoming AP exam (plus I just think it looks cool in Spanish). I study for tests during breaks in Marching Band and listen to classical music as a background to my study sessions at home (basically every waking hour I’m not at school or band — although weekends provide a well-enjoyed break).

Tell me about your involvement with the band program.

My transcript says it all. Basically, if the club has the word “band” in it, I’ve been a part … Pep Band, Marching Band, pit orchestra and various out-of-school ensembles. Really the only ensemble I’ve had the opportunity to try out for that I abstained from joining was Jazz Band. (I very much respect the art form, but also admit my complete ineptitude at it.) I played the piano for my middle school ensemble when I was in eighth grade and it was slightly disastrous. I refused to ever take a solo on the basis that I had no clue what on earth I would play if there wasn’t music right in front of my face. I’m a good at sight-reading but abysmal at improvising.

What do you play?

I play the flute in Wind Ensemble and the piccolo in Marching Band. My definition of the piccolo, if not Webster’s, is a little tiny flute that sounds cute outside but turns into a cruel torture device if ever brought within four walls. The role of piccolo players is to stand out from the entire woodwind section and make it so the audience might hear the woodwind part, since they stand no chance whatsoever of hearing it with only flutes and clarinets playing. (Saxophones are most often audible, but frequently have a different part.) This is a nice thought, but it would work much better if piccolos had been designed to stay in tune more than five seconds at a time.

What do you do as a section leader?

Section leaders in general exist to make sure their section marches in step, memorizes their music and knows the horn moves. They often need to fill the role of section cheerleader and organizer, too.

What is your favorite thing about Marching Band?

This is hard. Marching Band comes with the inconvenient paradox that the most fun times unfailingly coincide with the most unbearable. Band camp is terribly entertaining and incomparably useful for learning both charts and the personalities of the people in the band, but it’s also the most exhausting week of the year. Long bus rides offer hours upon hours to talk and laugh with friends but also involve hours upon hours trapped in a bus. Competitions are some of the most exciting moments of the year but also some of the most nerve-wracking. The polar nature of band emphasizes every outing, every practice. The best is the best there can be and the worst, the worst. Marching Band is two-sided, but I could never enjoy one side without the other.

What’s your favorite thing about Wind Ensemble and Pep Band?

I love Wind Ensemble with all my heart. I just love to play the flute, and to start every day that way is an incredible blessing. Band people are some of the funniest people on earth, and early morning hours barely dampen their spirits. About a month ago, a monstrous cricket managed to find its way into the band room and then right into the center of the band. Once there, it immediately caught the attention of the entire band. The room erupted in conflicting screams of “Ew! What is that?” and “Don’t kill it!” Eventually, Mr. Berning took matters into his own hands, or more accurately, his own shoes, and to the horror of those championing freedom for the interloper, quickly extinguished the cricket’s life with a loud “Crunch!” The band room once again was filled with cries, this time pertaining to Mr. Berning’s insensitivity. Pep Band is wonderful fun as well. I like basketball, plus basketball games – unlike those of football – are conveniently located within a heated building.

What are some of your favorite classes?

I really like being able to see all my friends at school and I actually genuinely enjoy learning things. I’m taking Wind Ensemble; AP Physics II, Spanish IV, Calc 3, AP English and a student assist this semester. Next semester I have government. I really enjoy all my classes, so it’s hard to pick a favorite. I’m predisposed to enjoy math and science, but my English class is really fun too this year (even though symbolism still goes over my head).

With everything you’ve got going on, how do you manage your time?

My theory is this: Where time doesn’t exist, make it. This means cutting out all TV viewing on weeknights and rarely going on Facebook, even on weekends. It helps that I’m really bad at video games and most of the movies I like I’ve already memorized. I only follow The Big Bang Theory, and I can watch it online on Saturdays.

What do you want to do as a career?

I haven’t yet decided precisely what I want to do and constantly waffle between being a scientist and being an engineer. In the meantime, I’ve come up with the perfect back-up plan. You know how in superhero movies there’s always that weird, uptight female scientist who is revealed about a quarter of the way into the film to be stunningly beautiful? There’s my plan. There are only a few problems with the beautiful scientist career path, with those being that superheroes don’t actually exist, and in order to be stunningly beautiful, I would have to wear a whole lot of makeup, and I don’t really like wearing any. Oh, well.