Kathy Parisi: Professional musician creating a new generation of stars

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Kathy Parisi (Brandy Centolanza/WYDaily)
Kathy Parisi (Brandy Centolanza/WYDaily)

From morning until night, Kathy Parisi’s day revolves around music, whether she is listening to it, teaching it, or playing it.

Parisi’s days usually begin at the Williamsburg United Methodist Church, where she has served as an instructor in the Early Childhood Music School program for the past ten years. Parisi introduces preschoolers to music through classes at the church and she teaches students in Head Start through the Early Childhood Music School’s outreach program. Roughly 400 preschool students receive free music education through the outreach program.

Her classes include introduction to bells and other instruments. The students finger play songs to practice fine motor skills and learn seasonal songs, incorporating various musical scales, dance styles and movement.

“It’s a lot of fun,” Parisi said. “The kids are all really sweet and we have a blast. I love seeing their smiling faces. They learn more and more each week. They are very enthusiastic and sometimes sing louder than I do.”

Parisi grew up in Connecticut, the daughter of a middle school band director and an elementary school teacher. She began playing violin in the fourth grade, and also plays viola, piano, and clarinet. Parisi was involved in band, choir and orchestra throughout both high school and college.

“I think I am a combination of both of my parents,” Parisi said. “I always knew I’d be a musician. There was nothing else, and I am so lucky for that.”

She worked at the John F. Kennedy Center For The Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., before moving to Williamsburg. Parisi was a musician for a time with both Colonial Williamsburg and Busch Gardens before she decided to head into the classroom.

In addition to teaching at the Early Childhood Music School, Parisi offers private lesson instruction in piano, violin, and viola to children and adults. At night, she can be found performing at various venues throughout Williamsburg.

For the past two years, Parisi has been singing and playing violin with Joe’s Day Off, a local band that specializes in folk, bluegrass, and country. She joined the band by accident after being asked to substitute for another musician one day.

“I’ve always been a classical musician, but I thought I would give it a try,” she said. “We play a little bit of everything, and I really enjoy it.”

Joe’s Day Off performs a few times a month, mostly at the Triangle restaurant, and has also played at the 2nd Sundays Art & Music Festival downtown.

Parisi also sings and plays with two other musicians, Chris Krehbiel & Joe B. Jones, at the Center Street Grill in New Town. They play more well-known cover songs from musicians such as Bob Dylan, Simon & Garfunkel, Van Morrison, and the Grateful Dead.

“I’ve never known so much about the Grateful Dead until I started playing with them,” Parisi said with a laugh.

Parisi’s two sons have also taken up instruments; one plays the saxophone, while the other plays piano.

“I’m trying to keep them musically inclined,” she said.

Eventually, Parisi would like to learn to play cello and guitar.

“You are never too old to learn new things,” she said. “I really am all about music all day long. I’ve been around it forever. It’s a part of my every day, a part of life for me. It gives me a lot of joy.”

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