Darrell Parrish retires after 27 years of service


Courtesy of Darrell Parrish

Darrell Parrish plays a guitar accompaniment for choir at Candlelight in December 2018.

Harboring a love for music since he was six years old, Darrell Parrish performed in the wind ensemble and jazz band at John Jay High School in San Antonio, often playing music at the expense of doing his schoolwork. After 27 years teaching at St. John’s, he is retiring.

“He just loves to perform and he loves music, and that’s how he got into teaching,” his wife Audra said. “And, of course, he’s always smiling because he’s enjoying it so much.”

Parrish plays with the Jazz Band during a concert 20 years ago. (Courtesy of Darrell Parrish)

Following the encouragement of his high school band director, Dan Schreiber, Parrish decided to pursue a career in teaching music. 

“He was almost like a second father to me,” Parrish said. “When I got to be a sophomore, I said, ‘I want to do what he does.’”

Parrish was working at the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts teaching music theory when he married Audra in June of 1992. The next year, Janet Scarcella, SJS Director of Fine Arts at the time, approached Parrish and asked him to become director of the Wind Ensemble and Jazz Band.

As soon as he arrived at SJS in 1993, Parrish had one goal: “Try to make music fun.” 

Sophomore Lily Pesikoff, who has known Parrish him since second grade, said that Parrish has done just that and so much more. Not only did their Middle School advisory spend an entire period making band jokes, but Parrish walked his advisory to Whataburger during a Community Service Assembly after their advisory lunch was cancelled for the third time.

“Mr. Parrish made band easy and fun, not something stressful,” Pesikoff said. “He made students want to come to band.”

Senior Marina Ring has been part of the band program since middle school. She said that Parrish’s devotion to his job instilled a love for music in everyone he taught. 

Parrish conducts the Jazz Band at the Wassail Party after Candlelight. (Courtesy of Darrell Parrish)

“Everybody loved having him as a teacher,” Ring said. “He was a face of St. John’s because everyone associated him with the band program. He was very charismatic and really brought life to band.” 

Parrish is known to accompany almost every instrumental performance at St. John’s.

“When you’re a band director, you can play every instrument because you have to know how to play the instrument to teach someone how to play it,” Audra said. “You can basically hand him any instrument, and he knows how to play it.”

Ring recalled one occasion when Parrish played a trumpet solo with one hand while strumming his bass with the other.

“It was the craziest thing I have ever seen,” Ring said. “Just incredible.”

Parrish dons a Santa hat and beard in the Great Hall during the Wassail Party. (Jonah Pesikoff)

To commemorate Parrish’s 27 years, Band Parent Liaison Tracy Pesikoff initially planned a surprise cake party following the spring concert. After the School’s closure and social distancing guidelines were implemented, Pesikoff organized a car parade in front of the Parrish household during which students brought their instruments and played some of Parrish’s favorite songs, including “Feliz Navidad.” 

“It’s bittersweet that I don’t have to experience band without him, but I’m sad for the people who won’t get to experience Mr. Parrish,” Ring said. “You can’t miss him in a room, and you’ll definitely notice when his presence is gone.”

Parrish retains high hopes for the future of the SJS band program and is confident that his students will remain successful under any director.

“It’s tough having gone through this career my whole life and it ending in this difficult way without a final concert and seeing the seniors off, but I have absolutely enjoyed my time at St. John’s,” Parrish said. “It never felt like a job because it was what I loved to do.”