Jeff Jones first found his calling from 1980s hard rock bands.

He recalled being in fifth grade when his older brother started bringing the music home with him. 

"And I'd kind of air drum along to it," Jones said.

Then came a fateful Motley Crue concert. 

“Tommy Lee was a drummer,” Jones recalled. "He had this drum solo and he was up in the rafters. He went all the way over the crowd and he'd spin around and he'd play. I decided right then and there 'I want to do what he does for a living.'"

One week later Jones' mother signed him up for music lessons "because that's all I would talk about."

Fifth-grader Jones was the only musician in the family.

"Everyone else was more athletic," he said.

Jones earned a jazz scholarship at Northeastern State University, starting out as a music performance major.

He said he realized "you're never going to get hired as a musician just because you have a music performance degree."

Jones said his father instilled in him "you need something to fall back on and to know how the business side works."

So, he changed his major to business.

However, with a family and young child to support, Jones found ways to make money musically. He wrote and sold instruction books and began offering music lessons.

"I had to find a way to work. I took every gig I could in the evening," he said. "If you want to be a musician in Oklahoma, you've got to be willing to do a lot of different things."

Jones continues to teach and perform. He also is owner of Zomac School of Music, which also is a music store.

The reality of drumming has become even better than that Motley Crue fantasy.

He said he's never played in rafters, "but I don't know how many countries I've played in.”

 

Teaching at

high schools

Jeff Jones has taught high school drumming since shortly after he was in high school.

He started teaching privately in 1997, the year he graduated from Muskogee High School. Two years later, Jones taught part time at Wagoner High.

After a few years, Jones began teaching at Fort Gibson.

"Up until this year, I was teaching Hilldale, Checotah and Fort Gibson," he said. "I hated letting Fort Gibson go, but I was too busy teaching three schools."

He now teaches middle school and high school percussion at Hilldale and high school percussion at Checotah.

"Both were very successful this year," he said. "Checotah won all the contests they went to this year and got straight Superiors at State. Hilldale has had the best years they had for a long time and got Superiors at State."

Jones said he teaches drumming fundamentals and "how to be better than their competition."

"Each drum line is different," he said. "We try to find different things to highlight each one. But the whole thing is to try to make them sound good with the whole band."

He said he works with student percussionists on different "stick tricks" to do during the halftime marching programs. They might be twirling the mallets or throwing sticks in the air. 

"We're performing and playing music," he said. "If you watch them, it's kind of like drama because it's performance art as well."

 

Playing with 

several bands 

Gigs with several bands keep Jones busy on weekends.

He's part of the Muskogee rock and country group Reversing Radio. They played a recent wedding and will do several Christmas parties in December.

"We've been around for years playing," he said. "We have a new lineup of people, constantly transitioning."

Jones joins other musicians for special concerts, such as the recent "Geestock," marking the 50th anniversary of the Woodstock Music Festival.

"That's just a one-time thing," he said.

On Nov. 16, Jones will perform at the Roxy Theater with Muskogee musician Aaron Michaels.

"He's a Christian rock musician here in town, and he's releasing a new CD," Jones said. "I play with him regularly."

On Sundays, Jones plays with the First United Methodist Church group Soul Focus.

He often spends Sunday afternoon practicing with the various groups.

Four or five times a year, Jones performs with NWA (Northwest Arkansas) Jazz and More, which plays private parties and concerts around Fayetteville, Arkansas.

"I don't practice with them," Jones said. "That's the only one I don't rehearse with. The other ones I do. I learn the songs. I show up, and then I play them." 

 

Playing music

around the world 

Jones wrote some percussion instruction books that have taken him around the world.

He said he wrote the "Groovology" series because he didn't like his college instruction books. He started selling them on the Internet.

"In the first month of selling them, I sold the first international one and I think it went to Lithuania," Jones said. "Then it kind of opened up from there. Different drum magazines from around the world would review the books — Spanish, Italian, German, English, American ones. They gave me good reviews."

People around the world would then buy his instruction books, he said.

"Germany has the second largest population of drummers, behind the United States," he said. "I went over there and started talking to some of the German drum teachers, and they said they use all the American books in English."

Jones offered to have his books translated into German.

He also got several offers to perform in Germany. He also has performed at festivals in Poland, Belgium and England.

"I love meeting the people and seeing the different cultures, where I can talk about the different styles," Jones said. "I love playing the music and seeing how people in Germany react differently than people in Belgium or the United States, or whenever you're in England, how they react differently to the styles you're playing."

 

HOW DID YOU COME TO BE AN OKIE FROM MUSKOGEE?

"Born and raised here. This is the only home I've ever known. I don't have any plans on ever leaving."

WHAT DO YOU LIKE BEST ABOUT MUSKOGEE?

"Mostly the people. Most of my family is here. A lot of friends here. My church is here. I have a lot of friends in my church. Most people are really nice."

WHAT WOULD MAKE MUSKOGEE A BETTER PLACE TO LIVE?

"Fix the roads."

WHAT PERSON IN MUSKOGEE DO YOU ADMIRE MOST?

"My wife. She loves me to death. She's my anchor. She keeps me grounded all the time. She's my spiritual partner. She keeps me close to God. I wouldn't be doing what I'm doing if it wasn't for her. I probably wouldn't be in church every Sunday if it wasn't for her. I wouldn't be half the man I am without her."

WHAT IS THE MOST MEMORABLE THING TO HAPPEN TO YOU IN MUSKOGEE?

"Being married and having kids. We got married here and had our kids here."

WHAT DO YOU DO IN YOUR SPARE TIME?

"Golf, spend time with kids, travel wherever we can, read, watch movies together, mostly family movies. I'm constantly reading to learn. I'm interested in history a lot." 

HOW WOULD YOU SUM UP MUSKOGEE IN 25 WORDS OR LESS?

"Excellent place to live. Great for families. Great for schools. Great churches and just good people."

Meet Jeffrey Jones

AGE: 41.

HOMETOWN:  Muskogee. 

EDUCATION: Hilldale Elementary and Middle Schools; Muskogee High, 1997; Majored in business, minored in music at Northeastern State University. 

PROFESSION: Private drum teacher, part-time percussion instructor at Checotah and Hilldale High Schools, owner of Zomac School of Music.

FAMILY: Wife, Jennifer; three children, Zoe, Macy and Noah.

CHURCH: First United Methodist Church. 

HOBBIES: Golf, tennis, reading, travel.

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