Laura Parker

Orchestra Director and Choir Director

MM in Music Education and Bassoon performance, class of 1986


My name is Laura (Hunt) Parker and I was a graduate student at JMU earning my MM with concentrations in Music Education and Bassoon Performance in 1986. I attended JMU from January ’84-August ’86 as a Graduate Assistant and having just finished my BME December of ’83 from Northern Michigan University in Marquette, Michigan.

I am currently the Orchestra director at Salem Middle School, and a couple of elementary schools, in Virginia Beach, VA.  I just completed 30 years of teaching (all in Virginia) and will begin my 31st year this fall. That is my full-time job (and several thousand students over the years to boot!).  It seems that I was a student at JMU just a few short years ago. (I’ve stayed connected to JMU because I have sent my students and my own children to Spring String Thing over the years.)

My other job is as the Music Director at St. Andrew’s UMC in Virginia Beach, VA, where I direct the choir, the handbell choir, and lead the praise team (also play keys and sing lead vocals). This is a growing ministry and I am happy to be there.

In my spare time, I perform as contrabassoonist/bassoonist with the Virginia Wind Symphony and Symphonicity, the Symphony Orchestra of Virginia Beach.  I also play bassoon with the Tidewater Winds in the summer. I am happy to be playing more regularly again after having taken a break raising a family!  However the past couple of years have been special as I have been able to perform with my husband and my son, on a couple of occasions, in the groups mentioned! 

Having had a daughter graduate from JMU in 2016 (MRD alum), I was on campus quite a bit. I have also met many of the new faculty at JMU and at VMEA. However, I have been thrilled to partner with the School of Music and Dr. Lisa Maynard as a guest with her String Tech classes for the past five years – once a semester at the least.  Most of my time in her classes has been on-campus visits and topics have been varied along the way.  When not on campus, we’ve had several Skype lessons from my classroom to hers!  Some of the JMU Music Ed students even conducted my students from their classroom!  I welcome these opportunities to give back to JMU and to share with future music educators and look forward to continuing the partnership. Every time I come back, I wish I could be a student there again.  I love the campus, the students/faculty, and the programs. 

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