Remembering Scott Parkinson
by Milton Stevens
Principal Trombonist,
National Symphony Orchestra
Delivered at his Funeral Service
July 17, 2004

When Len and Judy asked me to offer some comments and reflections about Scott at today's service, my knees started shaking, just like they might before an important, exposed trombone solo. I had to pull myself together and remember that Scott himself could have pulled himself through tough situations. He exhibited confidence and poise. So, why shouldn't I brave my emotions and deliver a brief recounting about Scott?

I dare not speak too deeply about my true feelings here, because to do so might mean that I will become so sentimental and emotional that I'll choke and not be able to get my words out. Nevertheless, I do have some fond memories about Scott to share with you.

Scott took weekly lessons from me for 2 _ years from 1992 ­ 1994, while he was in high school. I remember how he literally bounded up the small hill leading to my front door each week. He was such an enthusiastic student, and he was always ready to demonstrate his latest accomplishments. He had an insatiable thirst for knowledge, and he must have lived and breathed music and the trombone during all his waking moments.

From my files, I looked up some of the comments I wrote on his behalf on various Instructor Recommendation Forms. Here are a few that stand out. I'm sure that these attributes were just as true about Scott this year as they were when I wrote them 10 years ago.

"Scott's talent for music is obvious. He plays with expression, imagination, and originality."

"You won't find a more dedicated and serious-minded trombonist."

"Scott demonstrates excellent character and maturity."

Concerning his personality and interpersonal relationships:
"This is a 'no-brainer'. Scott comes from a caring, loving family. He's great!"

"Scott has an unmistakable urge to be a fine musician. I have no doubt that Scott will become a success in the music profession."

"I am continually amazed at the quantity of facts he has acquired about music, musicians, composers, recordings, and the trombone. If there were a TV Jeopardy show just about music, he would win the jackpot."

Scott owned all sorts of CDs and videos. In fact, he tape recorded or video taped all of our lessons together. Thanks to the 100% support he received from his parents, Scott was able to shoot for the moon-musically and professionally.

Here is a funny incident that I have to tell on myself. When Scott won the opportunity to perform a memorized concerto with the Virginia Youth Symphony in an outdoor arena, I did not want to make him nervous by being conspicuous in the audience. So, after he began the opening phrase of the Grondahl Trombone Concerto, I crept up behind a large tree and peaked through a separation in the bark to watch and listen to him. I don't know why I was nervous and concerned. He played with assurance and command of his instrument. Another Bravo for Scott!

None of us knows when we will be plucked off the face of this earth. It is astonishing to me how many times God seems to get it all wrong. Scott should have had at least another half a century of years on this planet. God seems to like talented musicians in his midst, though, and He has called quite a number of them to his side prematurely. Scott joins some other luminary musical figures who were snatched up too soon. Henry Purcell lived to be only 36. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was just 35. Schubert was forced to cease composing and performing at 31, and Giovanni Pergolesi's life was cut short at 26!

With Scott's ambition, who knows what he might have accomplished if he had lived to 97 instead of 27!
Similarly, if Mozart had lived to complete his famous Requiem, then we'd all know exactly how the entire composition was to sound. If Schubert's health had not failed him, he would have written the 3rd and 4th movements of his Symphony No. 8.

God, quite often we think that your calendar and clock need adjusting, but apparently you have your own plan and time table for us. Despite this fact, there are plenty of times when we mortals are convinced that God makes mistakes. Scott, if you have any say in the matter, please talk to God about his miserable sense of timing.

We are left behind on this planet will all miss you immensely.