About Dr. Marcia Bornhurst Parkes

An insightful leader and music director, Dr. Marcia Bornhurst Parkes applies her extensive experience as a music administrator, conductor, and teacher in k-12 schools, community music schools and in higher education, to support the music and business communities. Through her consulting practice, Insightful Music Leadership, she focuses on four areas: leadership, engagement – especially service-learning, musicianship, and performance anxiety. To help clients, she addresses gaps and needs, and she provides innovative and creative solutions which lead to efficient systems and process improvement. Marcia leads new initiatives that build community and inspire excellence in performance.

Marcia held administrative and conducting/teaching positions with the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth Department of Music and the Eastman School of Music New Horizons Program where she conducted up to 28 concerts per year. For over 40 years, Marcia has given national, state and regional professional development workshops, concert-clinics, and presentations on creativity, engagement, improvisation, composition and commissioning new works, performance anxiety, instrumental techniques, and teaching and learning pedagogies such as comprehensive musicianship, the subject of her doctoral work. As an educational consultant for The Commission Project she evaluated that organization’s mission and two core programs.

A pioneer, she served the NY State Band Directors Association in key leadership roles as founder, steering committee and executive board member, 2nd vice-president, creator and manager of the Regional Workshop Program, and chair of the first band commission. For the New York State School Music Association (NYSSMA), she served as a contributor and writer for the NYSSMA and New York State Education Department’s “Music: A Resource Guide”. She has adjudicated NYSSMA All-State and Major Organization festivals, and served as a guest conductor for various honor bands. She served as the music director of the Melody Masters Big Band (Rochester, NY) for seven years and currently she performs with the Alphorn Society of Western, NY.  Marcia holds three degrees in music education: the Ph.D. and M. M. from the Eastman School of Music and the B. M. from Ithaca College.

Please click on the links below to learn more about Marcia’s experience, and consider how she may support you and your organization. 

LinkedIn link: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mbparkes 
Melody Masters Big Band Link: https://melodymastersbigband.com 
Rochester Professional Consultants Network: https://rochesterconsultants.org 



Dear Sir or Madam: 

The purpose of this letter is to provide an enthusiastic recommendation for Dr. Marcia Bornhurst Parkes. I have known Dr. Parkes now for twenty years or more. We have shared responsibilities while on committees with the New York State School Music Association (NYSSMA). We were colleagues when the New Horizons Band Program held a weeklong workshop here at Ithaca College, and finally, I know of her many accomplishments through other teaching and leadership roles with the New York State Band Directors Association (NYSBDA) and other organizations. I am sincere when I write that I can evaluate her effectiveness, professionalism, and sincerity in her roles as an administrator, teacher and musician. 

What is immediately impressive about Dr. Parkes is her high energy and highly positive approach to her responsibilities. She is an excellent manager of time and organizes numerous tasks responsibly. Her work ethic is beyond question and she just plain gets things done and done well. This is why she is in constant demand to lead, coordinate, develop, produce and steer projects of huge importance to some of the most prestigious music organizations in the State of New York. One does not simply be appointed to the NYSBDA Board. You are nominated and voted on by peers. These peers and I know what superb resource Dr. Parkes is. 

Her knowledge of educational policy is up to date and she has a vast network of contacts throughout the Northeast. Her manner is consistent, kind and level-headed. She is fair yet in no way is she a pushover when it comes to challenging relationships. I would grade her entrepreneurial skills as excellent based on the numerous initiatives in which she has been asked to participate. 

Dr. Parkes choice to embark on another professional endeavor speaks to her dedication and commitment. I recommend her highly. 


Dr. Mark Fonder 
Professor Emeritus, Ithaca College 
Conductor/Artistic Director, 
Wisconsin Symphonic Winds 

Dr. Marcia Bornhurst Parkes and I met in the summer of 2018 when I served as a summer school principal at Rochester (NY) City School District, School 28. Marcia observed students learning, and when she heard that I was the vice-principal at RCSD School 16, an elementary school, she was eager to meet again. Having lived for decades in the school neighborhood, Marcia was aware of myriad problems, and she was eager to facilitate improvements. 

At the meeting with School 16 principals that September, Marcia revealed a complete understanding of our school data as well as desired outcomes given in the School Comprehensive Education Plan. Marcia explained that when students are engaged in the service-learning pedagogy educational objectives can be met, student achievement increases, and character is strengthened, even for those living in poverty. Evidence of her dedication and success with middle school band students reinforced those points. 

In 2018, eighty-six percent of School 16 students were living in poverty; many were experiencing trauma. Most performed at the lowest of four levels on standardized tests. Marcia had been following the work of the Rochester Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative (RMAPI) and Participatory Budgeting Rochester (PBR). Through PBR, Empire State grant funds would be awarded in the spring of 2019 to support new projects that would have won the public vote. Marcia made a compelling case for the development of a project at School 16. Since she had extensive leadership and project management experience, and understood our school problems, and since she was committed to help children in poverty, Marcia was invited to lead and produce a project with our faculty team. 

From September through early February, Marcia worked with an art specialist and two who teach general music/choir and band. Applying her vast knowledge, teaching and administrative experience, and expertise in curriculum design and project development, she helped faculty focus on specific outcomes that would address student and community needs. Over 11 or team meetings and others with principals, Marcia offered a vision of engagement and service-learning, various learning opportunities for students, and how to connect with the community. 

Potential presenters and teaching artists in building relationships, art, and music agreed to participate, and tentative plans for their presentations or teaching were developed. Likely community partners such as the 19th Ward Association Schools Committee, places of worship and other supporters were contacted. Leaders at the Rochester Presbyterian Home were eager to support the possibility of co-teaching and co-learning between elders and young students. The Arnett Library agreed to host one of two potential culminating experiences for the community. In addition to working with faculty, Marcia also served as a PBR Budget Delegate to ensure a high level of awareness of the needs at School 16. 

Throughout the project development period and even after voting results were posted, we found Marcia to be a genuine, compassionate, and resourceful leader with a vision who enjoyed serving others. She embraced our school and the neighborhood with the hope that the school and this project would become a catalyst for building community. She worked tirelessly to identify additional resources and support, and she engaged various networks to support and publicize the project. Projects that won focused on highly critical needs such as housing for the homeless and food for the poor. 

We are very grateful to Marcia for sharing her expertise, time, and talents. As a result of her work with our team, we have a greater appreciation for the benefits of service-learning: improved academic success and strengthened character. We hope to implement aspects of their work. Marcia is a highly-qualified, dedicated professional in the areas of leadership and service-learning. I highly recommend Dr. Marcia Bornhurst Parkes. 


Lisa L. Garrow, Principal 
John Walton Spencer School No. 16 
Rochester, NY 14619 

To Whom it May Concern: 

My name is Jim Robitaille. I am a musician, composer, recording artist, author, and have been an applied jazz guitar instructor and ensemble director on the jazz music faculty at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth since 2007. I am honored to write this letter of recommendation for Dr. Marcia Bornhurst Parkes. 

I first met Marcia when she was appointed Interim Leader for the music department in the College of Visual and Performing arts at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth from 2012 to 2013. Immediately evident was Marcia’s passion, enthusiasm, and skills as an individual leader in a professional role that would normally be fulfilled in a university music department by both an assistant chair and chairperson. Her administrative role included hiring of faculty, fiscal responsibilities and budget reports, curriculum, and carrying out a host of other college day to day administrative operations. As a full time lecturer, Marcia was director of the university jazz ensemble, chamber music ensemble, Instructor for Music Skills, career counselor, and conducted senior pre-certification. 

Marcia took time for outreach to coordinate with the New Bedford Symphony Orchestra and student ensemble recitals at our downtown New Bedford CVPA Star Store campus. The music faculty was overjoyed when Marcia began programming a Jazz Invitational Clinic and Concert which included a workshop for the Fairhaven MA, High School Jazz Ensemble, and a concert including both UMass Dartmouth faculty and students. My Performance Jam Session Series was founded in 2010, and was supported by Marcia and the College Dean through the renewal of contracts and funding each semester, community outreach efforts, and her own attendance. I am also very grateful for her continued support with my career outreach regarding connections to the Rochester Jazz Festival and other concert opportunities. 

Marcia’s leadership tenure at UMass Dartmouth was truly inspired and effective with the needs and concerns of the student body and faculty as an administrator, lecturer, and ensemble director. I highly recommend Marcia. 


Jim Robitaille 
New Bedford, MA 

Dedicated educator, consummate professional. These are just a few phrases to describe Dr. Marcia Bornhurst Parkes. I had the pleasure to work with Marcia as part of the New York State Band Director’s Association’s (NYSBDA) first band commission project. The project included a three-day composer residency for band and 8th grade general music students at West Genesee Middle School (WGMS) in Camillus, NY. A preview performance was held at school, and the project culminated in a world premiere performance of a new work, Momenta, for band by Dana Wilson at the 1994 NYSBDA Band Symposium. Prior to my involvement, Marcia worked tirelessly as chair of the band commission committee, and she helped to procure a grant from Meet the Composer, Inc. It was a very rewarding and educating experience for me and my students. The project included opportunities for students to 
evaluate their own progress and attitudes toward the music. As the collaborating conductor, I collected performance assessments and worksheets which were kept in student portfolios. Two general music classes worked with Dr. Wilson in developing original compositions based on motives he generated, and, “WGMS”, the final student work and the new band commission were performed at a school assembly. Student work was documented, gathered, and shared in a report to Meet the Composer, Inc. Marcia was always available to offer help and assistance, and she truly had a passion for seeing this work come to life! I’m sure you’ll find her to have that same passion, drive, and experience to guide you in any educational setting!! 

Bill Davern 
Director of Fine Arts 
West Genesee Central School District 
Camillus, NY 

I have fond memories of collaborating with Marcia on a project for the New York State Band Directors Association (NYSBDA) in 1993-94. As chair of the first band commission, she led the committee and was diligent and creative in obtaining funding to commission me to write a piece and serve as a composer-in-residence for 3-days with students at West Genesee Middle School, Camillus, NY. To meet the residency guidelines and grant requirements of Meet the Composer, Inc., she facilitated the collaboration and reported my work. I am grateful for her spirit, energy and focus. Since then she has held administrative and conducting roles that have enabled her to create, promote and produce a number of projects to bring music to the Rochester-area, New Bedford, and Dartmouth, MA communities, and music-making to a range of school, collegiate and community musicians. We need more with her dedication, professionalism, and engaging and entrepreneurial spirit! 

Dr. Dana Wilson 
Professor Emeritus 
Ithaca College 
Ithaca, NY 


To Whom It May Concern: 

It is my pleasure to recommend Dr. Marcia Bornhurst Parkes to you as a passionate, knowledgeable and effective consultant for your music program. She and I have worked together on a number of projects mostly through the New York State Band Directors Association, an influential professional organization for which she was a founding member. 

Among my collaborations  with Dr. Parkes was an exceptionally unique composer commissioning project in the early 90’s which culminated in an immensely successful new composition for middle school band by the award winning composer, Dr. Dana Wilson. From the beginning stages to the world premiere, her innovative ideas for financing the commission and for engaging the students in the overall process proved to be inventive and remarkably imaginative. 

Her work in the development of service learning or experiential learning has proven to significantly impact student learning on a more profound level and also resulted in positive character development. In addition, she has done extensive and successful research in the area of alleviating music performance anxiety. 

Dr. Parkes’ leadership in music education is widely known and, as a consultant, she would truly be an asset to your program. 


Gary Stith 
Professor Emeritus 
Greatbatch School of Music 
Houghton College 
Houghton, NY 14744 


I first became acquainted with Dr. Marcia Bornhurst Parkes some time ago while exploring the possibility of joining the New Horizons program. At that time, Marcia was chairperson of the Rochester, NY chapter of the organization. I had many questions and required guidance and Marcia was there for me right from the start.

As one who hadn’t played trombone since shortly after high school, I needed help and encouragement. Marcia’s compassion, friendly attitude and professionalism made my re-entering the world of music so much easier.

Under Marcia’s leadership, the Rochester New Horizons program flourished and grew into the fine program that it is today. She had high expectations, yet her approach was one that made me enjoy wanting to do my best. I thoroughly enjoyed being a part of New Horizons under Marcia’s direction. 

Nelson E. Carr
Member, Rochester New Horizons Band