At a recent City of Fairfax Band concert, all four members of the Parrell family performed on the same stage, with father Rick Parrell conducting, mother Daria Parrell playing clarinet in the band and children Ricky and Natalie in the spotlight with saxophone and trumpet solos. For the Fairfax family, music is central: the parents met in high school band and are 35-year members of the City Band, Rick Parrell is a saxophonist with the U.S. Army Band, and both children are studying music education as well as also being City Band members. They are this week’s People Profile.
How long have you lived in the area? Daria: Since 1964. My family moved here when I was 9.
Rick: Since 1967, coming from Germany because my dad was in the Air Force.
Daria: So we met in high school, over at Fairfax High School … in high school marching band. We didn’t get married until we were 27, but we always were great friends, great buds and we were always in City Band.
What is the earliest age [Natalie and Ricky] began playing? Natalie: Probably eighth or ninth grade.
Ricky: I was a guest conductor for the band, at the age of 7 at a children’s concert.
Daria: He was the first kid ever to conduct the City Band.
Rick: Now at every children’s concert they have a drawing. They have a little bucket in front of the band and everyone puts their name in before the concert, and during the concert they draw the name out of the hat.
Natalie: Ricky was probably the only one who practiced for it.
Current jobs/school plans: Ricky: I’m a graduate of George Mason University with a degree in music education. Natalie is currently at George Mason University working on a degree in music education. I am now at the University of North Texas working on a master’s in saxophone performance, and it’s kind of funny cause it’s the exact route my dad went.
Natalie: I go to George Mason, like he said, for music education. I play the trumpet. I’ll be a senior. I’ve thought about graduate school but really, anything’s open. I’d be happy being an elementary band teacher somewhere in the county or something like that, or if I can get a performance degree, to try and audition for a job at some point.
Rick: I’ve been in the Army Band since 1980.
Ricky: He’s principal saxophonist.
Daria: I went to GMU also, but I got an elementary education degree. But I’ve always played clarinet.
Instruments: Daria: Clarinet.
Rick: Trumpet in the City Band, but saxophone in the Army Band.
Where do you like to hang out in the community? Natalie: They go out to Artie’s to eat every Wednesday night in Fairfax.
Ricky: Growing up in the area, there’s a lot of places you can go to see live music, whether in D.C. or in Fairfax.
Rick: When we grew up, we used to go to T.T. Reynold’s. That was the only place that had live music then.
Daria: When you wanted to go to town, you had to go downtown. A lot of those places don’t exist anymore — The Bayou, Crazy Horse. Blues Alley is still there.
Community concerns: Daria: About Fairfax City? I wish they would stop it from growing any more. For us it’s gotten crowded. When we grew up in this area it was dairy farms all around and Fairfax was this haven.
Natalie: It’s nice that there are a lot of things to do. It’s nice that people are interested in coming here and being around here, but at times it gets a little overwhelming, the traffic.
Rick: I’ll tell you what I’d like to have in the city, and this is something that [Dr. Thomas Hill, former City of Fairfax Band music director] was trying to push through, and that is an amphitheater. A covered amphitheater that you could have performing groups at.
Daria: I think you could change the Veteran’s Amphitheater now, if the city wanted to. You could fill in that little pond in front of it and build a gazebo over top of it.
Ricky: It would be nice to have a big outdoor venue for other groups to come play.
What word would each of you use to describe music in your life? Daria: Fulfilling.
Rick: I’d say life-quest. Musicians in general, no matter how good you are, are always striving to better themselves. I think for most musicians, it’s always something you can learn at any stage. I know this sounds trite but to me the more you know about something, it seems the more you don’t know about music. That’s why it’s always not a life struggle, but a life quest.
Natalie: Passion. It takes passion, and it is a passion.
If you could go on a road trip anywhere in the U.S., where would you go? Natalie: They’ve taken us all over the place. They took us to Niagara Falls, to Arizona, our last family trip we went to Hawaii.
Ricky: Florida, Michigan.
Daria: You can’t see a place unless you get in your car and drive it. We parked in Arizona and drove for 10 days.
Personal goals: Natalie: I’d like to be able to hit a double-C and have babies. Double-C is a very high note on the trumpet. I’ll be happy.
Ricky: I’d like to have a job. I’d like to make an album with my dad.
Natalie: And Natalie.
Ricky: Natalie could be on a couple songs too. But I think it would be cool to do something with my dad later on.
Daria: I’d like to be healthy, and be able to do tons of stuff with grandchildren, and introduce them to music and let them see all the joy it has brought to us.
Rick: First of all, you want to be healthy and be able to live a long time. I would just like to continue community service in the musical field, whether it be conducting a concert band or running a big band or even just helping out with some of the area school bands.
— Lea Mae Rice