Ironton#8217;s new band chief ready to make some music

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 29, 2006

It was John Kenneth McCoy’s golden opportunity, he explained.

And he took it.


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McCoy is back on home turf, quite literally, as the new director of the Ironton High School Million Dollar Marching Band.

While he has lived for the last several years in Florida,

McCoy’s family has Ironton roots. His father, John, was the first director for the Rock Hill High School Marching Band.

Both his parents were IHS grads but the family moved to Darke County when he was in high school and he was sorry he never got to follow in their footsteps.

McCoy retired in 1995 from the U.S. Army Field Band stationed in Washington, D.C. He went back to school at Ohio State to get his master’s degree and became a graduate assistant for the OSU Marching Band and started writing and arranging programs for it — something he still does.

“That’s something I love,” he said with a smile. “I’ll do it until I can’t write anymore.”

When he learned that IHS was looking for a new band director, he knew it was a chance to come home again.

The Ironton Board of Education hired McCoy last month. He began his duties July 31, the first day of band camp.

“I’ve had a great career, some teaching, some writing. What better calling than to see if I could give anything back to my hometown,” he said.

His first couple of weeks have been consumed by band camp and in getting to know the students and letting them get to know him.

McCoy invited Dr. Jon Woods, director of the OSU Marching Band, to come visit the Ironton band on Wednesday of last week.

The band will play for the first time Aug. 25 when Ironton plays Wheelersburg.

McCoy said the students are working now on, among other things, learning the Canadian National Anthem in preparation for a visit by St. Thomas More High School of

Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.

What are McCoy’s goals for the band?

“I hope to be able to establish a real sense of pride, a sense of responsibility to themselves, to the high school, to Ironton,” he said.

“When you play and play correctly, it excites people. When you play and people respond to what you’re doing, you like that. I want them to be excited about what they’re doing. Music has a powerful effect — when it’s done right — for the audience and the players.”