JONES COUNTY, MS (WDAM) - This is a news release from Jones County Junior College
Longtime Jones County Junior College band director, Jeff Brown has called the band hall his second home for the last 33 years. He has been the Fine Arts Division Chair, Director of Bands, Assistant Director of Bands, JC Jazz Band Director and "percussion guru" over those years, impacting thousands of students. His last performance as conductor and drummer was at the April Java & Jazz concert which had many former students and friends bid him "farewell," like JCJC alumnus and former JCJC Director of Bands, and current Pearl High School Band Director, Matthew Pickering. He explained Brown taught him a hard life lesson about procrastination.
"I submitted my Music Theory 4 final project two days after the deadline. He accepted my work but deducted ten points per day for each day that it was late, and that resulted in my final grade for the class being a B. Although I was disappointed in making a B in my favorite class, I knew that I deserved it and I did not question his grading policy or ask for an exception," said Pickering. He added, "Jeff Brown is one of the most compassionate and selfless individuals with which I have ever worked. He sincerely enjoyed sharing his knowledge and skill sets with his colleagues and students, and his work ethic was phenomenal. In short I guess you could describe him as a gentleman and a scholar, and I will forever be grateful for the time that I was allowed to work with him."
Another JCJC Maroon Typhoon alumnus, Ricky Williamson remembers how Brown taught him to be on-time for practice.
"During band camp in 1993, I remember I stayed out too late one night and overslept. Mr. Brown sent someone to my dorm room with some 20-inch Zildjian cymbals and used them as an alarm clock. Needless to say, I didn't oversleep again. Thanks Mr. B. for the privilege of playing snare at JC."
Williamson said Brown inspired hundreds of musicians over the years. Although most have quit playing since college, he said Brown gave them something they can take with them for a lifetime: self-discipline, a hard work ethic, the importance of comradery, and memories that will last forever.
"To this day my friends and I still talk about the impact Mr. Brown made in our lives. I know that we were hard to deal with at times and tested his nerves, but he always had enough patience to let us be college kids and at the same time trusted us to make JCJC's drumline great," said Williamson.
Another 1993 JCJC alumnus, Ryan Walker added, "Mr. Brown was and still is a great influence on my life. He is the sole reason I chose JCJC. I wanted to be a better player and I knew I could be under his supervision. He entrusted me as Captain and allowed me the freedom to write and teach my own pieces for the drumline. That year our drum line won the top section award six times and we dedicated our year to him. As you know, drummers are usually the rebellious ones in a band, so winning six times meant we were focused. We were for him and would run through walls for him and still would. He is a class act and helped mold thousands over his career. I'm blessed to be one."
While the Lexington, Mississippi native said he's looking forward to retirement after a total of 40-years of teaching students, there is one thing Brown will unequivocally not miss about teaching.
"The thing I will not miss is 'paperwork.' No one gets into the teaching profession to do paperwork, and I realize that there is a certain amount of paperwork that must be done. However, over the years it seems that the amount of paperwork has dramatically increased, or maybe I am just tired of paperwork. Anyway, I won't miss paperwork!" said Brown.
Of course, he said he will miss students, especially the students who were eager to learn, who always had questions, and never gave up. When asked if there is a favorite memory over his years of teaching, Brown shared this story.
"It is extremely difficult to select one favorite moment or trip. There are so many moments from which to choose. There have been some memorable comments, however. After one rather poorly attended jazz concert a student told me 'I had fun, even if there was no one in the audience.' I also had a parent tell me after a concert, 'You made my daughter fall in love with the saxophone again!' I will cherish those times!"
In his spare time Brown said he plans to play more on his drums and with his two grandchildren, write music, teach a few private lessons and volunteer at Jones. The question the students wanted to know is, will there be a "Party at Mr. Brown's House" in the near future? That phrase became a joke at the end of each summer band camp because they knew Mr. Brown never rested.