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Remembering Olin G. Parker

Alan Flurry

Longtime University of Georgia music educator Olin Parker passed away on Monday August 5, 2019. Parker, a veteran of WWII and the Korean War, served as professor emeritus and a former associate director of the Hugh Hodgson School of Music. He began teaching at UGA in 1964 and remained active in the school and in the field well into his 90s. 

Throughout his tenure, Parker taught music education methods courses for music education and elementary education students, music appreciation, music theory, applied clarinet and saxophone, and graduate classes in curriculum, philosophy, and the psychology of music. He also served as the academic advisor and supervisor to student teachers doing their internships in public schools. For many years, the Hodgson School has offered the Olin G. & Melba Joy Parker Scholarship, established to support Music Education students. 

Parker believed it to be the responsibility of music educators to devote their lives to the pursuit of providing lifelong musical experiences that enhance the cultural heritage and aid in human growth. “Music is a vital and recognized force in the life of humans,” he said. 

During 1956-58, he spearheaded the campaign to establish music therapy as a major study for the baccalaureate degree. He was responsible for the hiring of Richard Graham, the first African American professor at UGA. During the course of his career, Parker lectured in 39 states and 45 countries.

“Olin Parker was a wonderful teacher, musician, and colleague. He exemplified the spirit of the HHSOM, and his passion, dedication, and good humor inspired and elevated everyone around him,” said Peter Jutras, director of the Hodgson School. “While we will miss his smiling presence, we are grateful for all that he gave to our students and faculty, and for all of the music he enjoyed in a life that was very well-lived.”

In 2011, Parker was honored with a Presidential Award from the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA) which is given in recognition of individuals who support the ideals of the profession of music therapy. Amber Weldon-Stephens, a former student of Parker’s currently serves as the President of AMTA, served the Hodgson School’s most recent Spring Convocation speaker. 

Parker’s research focused on how music is learned and how the merging of the neurosciences with music psychology extended to the advancement of quality teaching and learning in music education. 

Funeral services for Parker will be held on Sunday, August 11 at 2 p.m. at First United Methodist Church located in downtown Athens. A visitation reception is set to follow the service. Memorial contributions can be made to the Olin G. & Melba Joy Parker Scholarship for music education students. To support this fund, please visit, or contact Hugh Hodgson School of Music Development Officer Sara Emery at or 706-542-4232.

Reported by Camille Hayes  

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