Potash Hill

Magnanimity Cum Laude

Music and Community

“In my experience, musical inspiration is like a stream: it is always flowing. I am always humming or have a melody in my head,” says Clayton Clemetson ’19, who was well known on campus for playing accordion and piano and singing in ensembles. Marlboro is fortunate that Clayton dips into that stream often, and has been very generous with sharing his compositions for Annual Fund videos enjoyed across the college community. 

“I offered my music to Marlboro because it is a community that I believe in,” says Clayton, who completed his Plan on the transformative potential of holistic education. “Marlboro takes its strength from the diverse talents and passions that the community shares with each other. If we all share the things we love with the people we love, then we are brightening the world for each other.” 

Clayton also participated in this spring’s popular Sugar Rush campaign for the Annual Fund, saying that the metaphor of collecting maple sap, a drop at a time, resonated with him. “I donated to Sugar Rush because I want to see Marlboro become stronger financially, and in terms of participation from the student body,” he says. 

Although Clayton began classical piano lessons when he was 8 years old, he only wanted to create his own music rather than play music that other people wrote. Since then, he has divided his musical interests between composing for orchestra or film scores and more traditional music: playing piano for contra dances and singing international folk polyphony. 

“Eventually I allowed my folk endeavors to overtake my pursuits of orchestration because I found the values around inclusion and community more resonant,” says Clayton. This fall he is a staff member at the High Desert Center, in Colorado, for their gap year program, which is focused on self-directed learning and living in community. The program includes teaching about homesteading, sustainable architecture, social dance, and, thanks to Clayton, social song. 

“This is exactly the kind of space that I want to teach in, where teaching and learning is a conversation and an exchange,” says Clayton. “It does not sound so different from Marlboro, where students create tutorials and learn alongside their professors. When two people share that spark of motivation to learn something, very little can get in their way.” 

See some of the videos featuring Clayton’s music, or hear more of him at soundcloud.com/clayton-clemetson. Also, read about his recent adventure in Ecuador at marlboro.edu/clemetson. Photo by Kelly Fletcher