During a geometry lecture in ninth grade, Jeff wrote down a major chord and imagined it being played by three trumpets. Soon thereafter, he completed his first written work, an arrangement for jazz band of a piece by his favorite composer at the time, Billy Joel. The following school year, he wrote his first original piece for jazz band. He named this piece after his best friend, who called himself The Mad Smasher (because of his penchant for smashing empty milk cartons in the school cafeteria).
In twelfth grade, he studied music theory with William Strickland and wrote his first piece for chorus, an arrangement of "Auld Lang Syne," which was first sung by the seniors of his high-school Madrigal group in 1981. This piece was sung for several years afterward at parties for the Madrigal group (and alumni) after caroling in Manhattan in December.
At MIT in 1981, he joined an a capella choral group called the Chorallaries. He was elected to the post of Music Director of this group in 1983 and again in 1984. The most popular of the many arrangements he wrote for this group were recorded on the 1985 LP he produced, No Instruments Allowed.
Jeff met Helen in 1990 and married her in 1992. With Helen's help on the lyrics, he began composing Still Time, which he completed in 1995.