School of Music

Thomas Parchman

Professor, Clarinet

Office Location

301 Corthell Hall



Academic Degrees

  • Bachelor of Music Education and Performance, Southern Methodist University
  • Masters of Music in Performance, Northwestern University
  • Doctorate of Musical Arts, University of Southern California


Dr. Thomas Parchman, clarinetist, came to Maine in 1984 as a result of a joint search between the University of Southern Maine and the Portland Symphony Orchestra. He holds the rank of Professor at USM, and has been the Principal Clarinetist with the orchestra since his arrival. Dr. Parchman holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Southern California, a Master of Music from Northwestern University, and a Bachelor's degree in both Music Education and Performance from Southern Methodist University. His principal teachers have been Clark Brody (Chicago Symphony), Larry Combs(Chicago Symphony) Robert Marcellus (Cleveland Orchestra), and Mitchell Lurie (Chicago Symphony and soloist). Dr. Parchman regularly performs as a member of the Portland Symphony and the Rhode Island Philharmonic, and performs recitals throughout New England. He as recently performed the Frank Martin Concerto for 7 Winds with the Portland Symphony, as well as the Bernstein Prelude, Fugue and Riffs with the National Music Festival.

Thomas Parchman was born in Memphis, Tennessee. His early musical training was in public school bands and youth orchestras, and his first opportunity to perform in an opera was as a member of the on-stage banda in Verdi’s Aida with the Metropolitan Opera when it toured to Memphis. As the Orchestra Manager and Principal Clarinet for PORTopera, he contracts the orchestra and has the opportunity to continue performing the music first introduced to him by the Met on tour many years ago.

Dr. Parchman’s teaching interests are focused on a class for entering freshman, and a course in ethics.

EYE 118: Musician’s Health is a practical course aimed at musicians in developing strategies for preparing themselves physically and psychologically to achieve their maximal performance potential. Students will learn the principles and practices of injury prevention, healthy lifestyle and practicing habits, performance psychology, and the interrelationship of physiology and psychology for the performing musician.

Ethical Inquiry courses at USM focus on themes that engage students in critical reflection on their responsibilities for informed decision making and action in their public and private roles. It requires students to frame, analyze, and evaluate ethical issues, as well as to articulate and evaluate their own viewpoints and actions in relation to the ethical frameworks introduced.

MUH 329 Devils, Dwarfs, and Dragons: Anti-Semitism in Music considers anti-Semitism in music from several musical perspectives including that of performer, composer and audience member. Students analyze works from musical, cultural, and ethical perspectives to understand how they were performed and perceived and consider the broad questions of their place in modern communities.

Anti-Semitism has been described as “the oldest hatred.” Hatred of the Jewish people began before the time of Jesus as Roman Jews refused to worship Roman gods and felt the hatred of their rulers. This hatred became a thread woven into the very fabric of Western culture from that day until modern times. Musicians performing works touched by this thread face the dilemma of whether or not to proceed. The questions of good or evil, tolerance or intolerance, and whether or not the performances of works of anti-Semitic composers perpetuate the hate and injury are questions musicians must contemplate and resolve.

Dr. Parchman is currently Chair of the USM Faculty Senate. He leads the group which represents the faculty, advises the President and Provost on matters affecting the welfare of the University, and make academic policy recommendations applying to the University as a whole.