Drum teacher Jeff McCoy recalls seeing his first parade when he was in kindergarten.
“Going to the parade and seeing the drums come down the street, how loud they were and how thunderous," he said. “I wanted to be a part of that."
That memory lingers as McCoy pursues his job teaching and directing percussion at Muskogee High School.
“Muskogee does four or five parades a year, and we bring all the drums we can, because I know how much that affects younger kids, getting to see that experience," he said.
McCoy said he has pictures of himself getting into music at an early age. Some show him banging on pots and pans as a little boy.
"My great-grandmother had an organ, and there are pictures of me trying to play it,” he said.
He was a music All-Stater at Sand Springs High School. His band director there was Bruce Thompson, who now directs the Pride of Muskogee.
He continued his education at the University of Oklahoma, Boston Conservatory of Music, Berklee School of Music, Southwestern Oklahoma State University and Oklahoma State University.
McCoy spent a couple of years in Nashville, working in the music business. He left when the recession hit in 2009.
“Even the highest paid people in town were leaving,” he recalled.
After earning his degree at OSU, McCoy became head band director at Victory Christian School. The band earned 3A champion awards three times when he was there.
He performed with the Tulsa Signature Symphony for five years.
McCoy recently finished his first year teaching at Muskogee High. He helped design the band's halftime show.
Jeff McCoy is a lifelong learner when it comes to music.
He attended five colleges, earning four degrees in music.
McCoy recalled playing the University of Oklahoma’s largest bass drum.
“I think it was 40 inches, and I marched in the Rose Bowl Parade, which is a six-mile parade,” he said. “There were other instruments smaller than me wimping out at the parade, but I didn’t miss a beat.
“There were horses in front of us, so I had to get around them.”
He went on to the exclusive Boston Conservatory of Music.
"Under 100 kids get accepted every year," he said. "In that year, there were only a couple of percussionists."
He later earned a certificate in World Percussion at Berklee School of Music, then earned a master's from Oklahoma State University. As a graduate student, he arranged percussion parts for the OSU marching band.
McCoy continues to learn. Earlier this month, he attended a session at Ball State University.
“I studied with the greatest drum corps marching band directors in the world,” he said. "I exchanged emails, asked questions and hung out with these guys for a few weeks in the summer."
McCoy said he and his wife have loved the outdoors for as long as they've known each other.
"I thought I was going to be the most adventurous camper, but she just loves to go out," he said. "My wife had this high energy. She wanted to go camping when Jeff Junior was a week from being born."
McCoy said the toddler started going on family camping trips at 6 months of age.
He said they enjoy camping at Lake Keystone or Broken Bow. The family has a 10-foot by 20-foot tent that "feels like a small room when you're inside."
"We kind of find an area that's a safe zone; we take the sticks and rocks out of the area and let them loose," he said. "I get airbeds, blow-up beds, soft things," he said. "I make things as comfortable as I can for them in a large popup tent, make it a really nice experience, not getting bit by bugs."
McCoy also takes his children on walks and hikes.
"My son can run pretty well," McCoy said. "We hit the trail so much at Civitan Park."
He said he carries Lily Joy, who is just now learning to walk, on his chest.
"She loves the outside," he said.
to help church
McCoy often can be seen filming videos for Boulevard Christian Church. The church uses the videos on its website and on larger screens.
"Some of the videos are played at church now," he said. "When they have a big thing for all the members, now they have a story to tell through the videos."
His most recent project is a promotion for a church splash party.
"We'll do stuff at Honor Heights and different areas, doing church picnics, outreaches," he said.
He shot the recent "Our Kids Better Together" clothing giveaway the church co-sponsored at Muskogee Civic Center. He also shot Boulevard youth painting homes and cleaning up neighborhoods during the multi-church Mission Muskogee campaign earlier this summer.
"I can record stuff off my cell phone that looks just as good as a camera," he said, adding that he uses he uses camera stabilizers with three gyroscopes.
"Those things used to be very expensive. Now you can get them for $100 at Best Buy," he said. "There's a Røde mic I use with a Dead Cat, which breaks the wind resistance."
Dead Cat is a brand name for a furry microphone cover.
He said he tries to get different camera angles and often adds background music.
"It probably takes four or five hours of editing for something like 10 minutes," he said.
HOW DID YOU COME TO BE AN OKIE FROM MUSKOGEE?
"I was head band director at Victory Christian School and they were cutting the fine arts program. I went to a band clinic at Saied Music, and Jerry Huffer was there. The staff at Saied said, 'you need to get with this guy' and talked me up. After a long conversation, I said 'after I come, this is what I want to do."
WHAT DO YOU LIKE BEST ABOUT MUSKOGEE?
"I've had great time with the students I have worked with. They have been very open to try new things. This year, we've done so much more already and school hasn't even started. I have very little discipline or behavior problems. They're coming in after school, weeks before school."
WHAT WOULD MAKE MUSKOGEE A BETTER PLACE TO LIVE?
"Having higher expectations with the band, that we could solve issues with some of the cultural issues and environment issues. For example, when these kids know we're holding them accountable to show up here every day, they'll all come to first hour. By coming to band, we have something that makes them reliable, a team of people that holds them accountable."
WHAT PERSON IN MUSKOGEE DO YOU ADMIRE MOST?
"Jerry Huffer. At 82, he runs circles around pretty much everyone else. He's a go-getter. He wants this band to be the best he can."
WHAT IS THE MOST MEMORABLE THING TO HAPPEN TO YOU IN MUSKOGEE?
"I just bought a house with my family. Our first house together. That was a real special time, sharing it with my wife and kiddos."
WHAT DO YOU DO IN YOUR SPARE TIME?
"We love going to parks. We love cooking out. We love playing. My son and I wrestle for hours. My son has a remote control Jeep he sits in. We spend a lot of family time together."
HOW WOULD YOU SUM UP MUSKOGEE IN 25 WORDS OR LESS?
"A lot of opportunities and room for growth that would really make this town special."
NAME Jeff McCoy.
HOMETOWN: Sand Springs.
EDUCATION: Sand Springs High School, 2002; University of Oklahoma; Boston Conservatory of Music; Berklee College of Music; Southwestern Oklahoma State University; Oklahoma State University.
PROFESSION: Band director and percussion instructor at Muskogee High School.
FAMILY: Wife, Alycia; son, Jeff, 2; daughter, Lily Joy, 1.
CHURCH: Boulevard Christian Church.
HOBBIES: Go to Civitan Park, hiking, camping, outdoors, music, cookouts, fishing.