Marisa Weinstein Wins the 2017 George N. Parks Leadership in Music Education Award

Respect, Responsibility, Commitment to Quality, and Perseverance:
Marisa Weinstein Wins the 2017 George N. Parks Leadership in Music Education Award

By Lisa Ferber

This article originally appeared in the January 2018 issue of Teaching Music Magazine

Marisa Weinstein, recipient of the 2017 George N. Parks Leadership in Music Education Award, dedicates a heap of gratitude to the man for whom this honor is named. A NAfME member who has been teaching for 35 years, she credits George N. Parks for enabling her to enter the field of music education.

Weinstein met Parks when she was an undecided freshman at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he was the marching band director and she was a snare drummer in the drumline. When she first met him, she wasn’t able to read music, and therefore wasn’t accepted into the music department. She recalls him saying, “Do you want to be a teacher or not?” to which she answered, “Yes!” Parks responded, “I will help you find a teacher.”

Marisa Weinstein
Photo credit: John Reichanadter

Parks recruited Weinstein to be the band’s librarian and equipment manager, among other roles. And then there was the time Parks said, “Bonnie Raitt’s bass player needs a sousaphone. Are you interested in taking it to him?” Weinstein said she walked it down to the stadium for a hundred bucks. “They tried to arrest me; they thought I was just some crazy kid.”

Weinstein notes that, “Receiving the award was really wonderful and humbling: I’m surrounded by wonderful music educators, including my partner, the PreK–4 music educator for our district, Marilyn Buzy.”

“It’s a small town and a very small school. Anything having to do with music—that’s my job.”

Though Weinstein originally thought she would be a lawyer, her love of music started early. “I fell in love with music as a kid. My mom was Cuban and listened to a lot of loud, fast Cuban music. I heard lots of salsa and merengue while she was cleaning the house.”

Marisa Weinstein
“Receiving the award was really wonderful and humbling.” – Marisa Weinstein. Photo credit: John Reichanadter

Weinstein currently teaches three bands, chorus, classroom music, two jazz bands, and a show choir, in addition to coaching three sports after school. “It’s a small town and a very small school. Anything having to do with music—that’s my job.” She shares that having been a music educator for so long brings special rewards. “Some of the teachers in the building are former students. I have many kids in band/chorus whose parents I’ve also taught.” She has created a memorial to her past eighth graders by using the music publishers’ promotional CDs: She gives the CDs out to the students, has them design and sign the flip sides, and then hangs them up around the music room. Weinstein remarks that kids see the CDs and say, “Do you have my mom up there?” and, “Is that our teacher, Miss Kennedy?”

Marisa Weinstein
Marisa Weinstein, Director of Bands, Warsaw Middle School, Pittsfield, Maine. Photo credit: John Reichanadter

Weinstein notes that teaching music is, “fun and rewarding, but what I think we all find difficult is the other stuff: respect, responsibility, commitment to quality, and perseverance. It’s the same in athletics. I can teach a kid how to do a layup, but it’s the discipline that’s the hard stuff. It’s the same in anything: You take a risk, you commit to it, you persevere, and hopefully you have success.”


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