For Brian Coon, big band music doesn't stop when he leaves his classroom.

For Brian Coon, big band music doesn't stop when he leaves his classroom.

The New Albany Middle School band director spends a lot of time on the town, playing his saxophone and sometimes the flute or clarinet in different bands and orchestras.

Over the weekend, Coon played his baritone sax in the Columbus Symphony Orchestra's "An Evening of Big Band" performance at Veterans Memorial.

The concert featured Matt Catingub as the guest conductor and Kristen Eubanks on vocals. Coon said CSO played medleys of tunes by Rosemary Clooney, Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole and Ella Fitzgerald, among others.

"I had a great time playing the concert," he said. "It is always a privilege and treat to play with the symphony."

Coon, who joined the district in August to accompany fellow middle-school band director Nathan McGee, said he thinks it is important for his students to see their teachers using their musical talents in the real world. He said he had mentioned to his class a few weeks ago that he would play with the symphony.

"I am not trying to promote them to buy tickets," he said. "If their families are interested in purchasing tickets, they can. But at the same time, I let them know."

Coon, a Gahanna resident, said he thinks both he and McGee, who plays trumpet with groups around central Ohio, provide professional examples for their students.

"There is something special that Nathan and I bring to the program -- passion for performance," Coon said.

McGee, who recently joined the Brass Band of Columbus, agrees with Coon about the importance of showing their students music in the real world.

"They just seem pumped about it," McGee said. "Every concert I play, there are always students in the audience that come to listen to the band. The things I learn from the community bands I bring back to the classroom."

McGee, along with the rest of the Brass Band of Columbus, will perform at the Jeanne B. McCoy Community Center for the Arts Monday, Feb. 2, along with the New Albany High School band and tuba soloist Oystein Baadsvik.

Coon said he loves teaching in the New Albany school because of his students and his colleagues.

"I think it is a great district to work in, and I am so lucky to have found a job eight minutes from my house," he said.

Coon, who was the band director at Teays Valley Middle School and a stay-at-home father prior to joining the staff at New Albany Middle School last fall, said he played more regularly when he was home to help supplement his family's income.

"I was not exactly a full-time musician, but it was a balancing act," Coon said.

He said his children, ages 9 and 5, attend some of his summer concerts at parks.

Currently, Coon said, he plays with the Dwight Lenox Band, the Conspiracy Band and a jazz and dance orchestra.

He said he is waiting to hear what the Columbus Symphony's Picnic with the Pops lineup is going to be, saying he has accompanied them in past years.

"I think what I like best about performing is playing the sax," Coon said. "Beyond that, I love to play music for people."