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Guest Artist Chris Parker Works With OCC Music Department Students

Chris Parker PHotoThe OCC Music Department welcomed guest artist Chris Parker who spent a week working with students in the program and sharing his expertise.

Parker, a native of Bloomington, Ind., is currently based in Brooklyn, N.Y. He has performed with many high-profile jazz musicians in the Midwest and NYC including Charlie Ballantine, Rob Dixon, Jim Snidero, Dave Stryker, Frank Glover, Steve Allee, Roger Pemberton, OCC Director of Bands Wade Baker and many others.

While at OCC, Parker worked with the Concert Band, Contemporary Music Ensemble, Commercial Music Ensemble, Jazz Combo, Jazz Big Band and private students individually as well as co-taught various general music classes.

“Having known and worked with Wade for several years, I knew that visiting his program at Olney would be a very special experience,” Parker said. “Some students are in the OCC Music Department with the intent to pursue music as their major at a four-year institution, and others purely enjoy making music and concentrate on nursing, business, etc. I found it remarkable that all students, regardless of their career aspirations, rose to the high level of performance expected by Wade. Much of the music that was being rehearsed, at a high level I might add, was music that I have often been expected to play in professional settings. Not only were aspects of musicality and technical proficiency emphasized and executed — the students also demonstrated their understanding of what it means to give an engaging performance.”

Parker even had the opportunity to interact with OCC students outside the classroom. He joined a group of students at a local music venue where they performed an impromptu jam session led by OCC recording and engineering instructor Guy Ash II.

“I was thrilled to get to listen to these students perform the music that they had rehearsed at school and they generously allowed me to perform with them,” Parker added. “Working with individual students, I found that all of what I shared with them was graciously accepted and embraced. They made sure to ask detailed questions to ensure they understood the concepts I was conveying. As a teacher, that is always the best outcome to yield and I was thrilled, student after student.”

Baker said the Music Department was incredibly fortunate to bring someone of Parker’s caliber to OCC.

“Chris is an exceptionally talented young man in many areas,” Baker said. “He was able to help all of our woodwind players with specific issues they were all facing in generating a better tone on their instruments. His expertise in trombone really paid dividends to our young trombone students as well as his extreme knowledge of rhythm sections techniques (drums, bass, guitar and piano) that helped our Big Band, Jazz Combo, Commercial Music Ensemble and Contemporary Music Ensemble rhythm sections tremendously.”

Baker hopes to make Parker a regular visitor to the program and is seeking donations to assist with related expenses. If you would like to help, please contact Baker at 395-7777, ext. 2251, or email

“I anticipate each visit will bring even more light to these young students’ eyes and help propel the music program to new heights,” Baker said. “These are exciting times at OCC and I cannot wait for the community to reap the benefits of the students' hard work they are putting in.”

Parker is excited about the prospect of returning to OCC.

“The OCC Music Program is a force to be reckoned with,” he said. “I fully expect to see the continued growth and success of its students.”

In addition to performing with other artists, Parker teaches privately, both via Skype and in his studio in Brooklyn, and is always accepting new students for recurring or single lessons. His premiere jazz album, “Moving Forward Now,” is available anywhere music is streamed or sold. It features NYC and Midwest musicians performing original and arranged material, including the music of Bob Dylan, romantic composer Sergei Rachmaninov, a jazz arrangement of “Battle Hymn of the Republic” and an original four-movement suite heavily influenced by John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme.”

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