Student News

Student reignites passion for music with Donovan Scholarship

Jeffrey Jones calls music the "first chapter" in his life.
Jones learned how to use manuscript software to compose during the pandemic.
Jeffrey Jones shaking the hand of the conductor, Dr. Anderson, at the conclusion of the performance of his five-movement piece for chamber choir.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Dec. 8, 2022) — For Jeffrey Jones, music had always played a part in his life. He wandered off from those passions as he gained employment, children and other interests. But, with the help of the Donovan Scholarship through the University of Kentucky Office of Lifelong Learning (OLLI), Jones has restarted an important chapter in his life. 


Growing up, Jones was involved in music, even creating his own original songs.  

This led him to start his higher education journey as a music major, eventually switching paths to earn his degree in education from the UK College of Education in 1985. From there he worked in Fayette County Public Schools until his retirement, where he enjoyed a fulfilling career teaching mathematics and computer skills to K-12 kids.

After retiring, Jones felt there was something missing from his life and decided to revisit his old passions.  

“With my children grown and my professional obligations over, I wanted to restart an important part of my life,” Jones said.  

That is where the Donovan Scholarship came in.  

The Donovan Scholarship pays tuition and mandatory course fees for adults 65 years and older taking academic courses at UK. The scholarship is available for courses held on campus, with limited availability for UK online classes. Donovan Scholars may audit classes for the joy of learning (exams, papers or other assignments are typically not required), take classes for credit without working toward a degree or take classes for credit as a degree-seeking candidate.   

“The idea that through a program you can come back and pursue what you were interested in is amazing,” Jones said. “The whole lifelong learning concept is wonderful.”  

Jones returned to his academic studies six years ago through the Donovan Scholarship, taking primarily music classes through the College of Fine Arts.  

“I started with your basic freshman music theory class and other fun classes, but I really wanted to get re-exposed to writing music. So, I started taking classes from the Music Theory and Composition program out of the School of Music,” Jones said. 

He focused on creating a portfolio of compositions using manuscript software — something he learned how to use during the pandemic.  

Jones credits his mentors Joseph Baber (now deceased) and Patrick Valentino, a part-time instructor in the School of Music, for his success in the program.  

“I would meet with Professor Valentino once a week to bring him my work; he would give me feedback and we would do it all again the next week.” 

To date, Jones has completed several compositions, including “20-20: A Choral Suite,” a five-movement piece for chamber choir which has been performed live by the Lexington Chamber Chorale. “September,” his single movement tone poem for chamber orchestra, has yet to be performed.

In the future, Jones hopes to continue to compose music and have his works performed live.  

“Writing music takes time. My only hope is that others gain as much pleasure from listening to my works as I have had in creating them,” Jones said. “If I had to put my life in chapters, music would be the first and now I am finally getting to finish the chapter.” 


Follow along with Jones on his composition journey on his website.  

To learn more about the Office of Lifelong Learning or the Donovan Scholarship click here 

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