The Arrand Parsons papers fill six and one-half boxes and span the period 1942-1988. They are arranged in two major categories: correspondence and teaching and professional files. Included as well are a few folders of biographical materials and one of publications.
Correspondence is divided into general and subject categories. The general correspondence, arranged chronologically, primarily concerns Parsons' teaching and speaking activities. Subject correspondence pertains mainly to Northwestern-related matters.
The teaching and professional files form the bulk of the series. These include some lecture notes and other materials related to courses Parsons taught, a few folders concerning a proposed program of graduate study at Northwestern for the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, and nearly four boxes of correspondence and teaching materials pertaining to the Contemporary Music Project. Established in 1963, the Contemporary Music Project was supported by the Ford Foundation and administered by the Music Educators National Conference. It represented a major enhancement of the Ford Foundation's Young Composers Project instituted in 1959. That program placed young composers in public schools to write for their performing groups. The Contemporary Music Project expanded these activities, supported additional seminars and workshops, and inaugurated pilot programs relating to music education at the elementary and secondary school levels. Parsons served as Midwest Regional Director of the Project's Institute for Music in Contemporary Education. Regional institutes were established in 1966 to emphasize creativity in musicianship and to broaden methods and goals of music education. Parsons also worked directly with the Contemporary Music Project in other roles and through participation in several of its committees.
Of interest in the teaching and professional files is a folder of materials on Northwestern School of Music master classes. The folder includes two letters to Parsons from Lotte Lehman.