The Music Man
USF Grad Didn’t Let Rejection Deter Him from a Dream
By Daylina Miller
TAMPA, Fla. – Preston Beebe is a man of music and of humility. Naturally self-reserved, his eloquence comes out through upbeat, shimmery jazz compositions and mastery of various musical instruments.
“I love music,” Beebe said. “I fell in love with the idea of creating something and always having that.”
Beebe, a recent USF graduate, triple majored in music composition, percussion performance and electronic music. His path to a degree, though, was anything but a song.
After being denied entrance twice into USF, Beebe was not to be deterred. Determined to come to USF to be a part of its award-winning percussion program, Beebe knew that his music would eventually speak for itself.
Applying to USF’s College of The Arts takes both a paper application and an audition. Professor Robert McCormick heard Beebe’s audition, and – even though the paper application had been denied – was able to offer the student a scholarship and a place at USF.
“I felt bad that I wasn't accepted at first, but I didn't give up my efforts,” Beebe said. “I was ready to study at the community college, but the music scholarship to study at USF came in the mail and changed everything.”
Earlier this year, Beebe had the opportunity to play percussion with the Florida Orchestra at The David A. Straz Center for the Performing Arts (formerly the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center), Ruth Eckerd Hall and the Mahaffey Theatre. The renowned orchestra needed seven percussionists to play with them and McCormick chose Beebe to participate.
“I felt privileged,” Beebe said. “It was such an amazing opportunity. It was a good learning experience playing with a professional orchestra.”
“I have much to offer the music community,” Beebe said. “I’m very much into collaborating, making connections, composing and performing. I have opened many doors in my career by studying percussion, composition and electronic music. I have full confidence that whatever I put my mind to, I will succeed.”
In his free time, Beebe gives private music lessons to students. He started his sophomore year of high school and continued the part-time job through college to supplement his income – all while taking nearly 20 credit hours a semester.
“Most people can relax after work and school but I’m up late at night practicing and composing,” Beebe said.
Beebe has his own home studio and recording equipment, as well as a variety of instruments that he has collected over the years. Now that he has graduated, he plans on taking the next year to get his composition portfolio ready so that he can apply to top compositions schools. In the meantime, he plans on entering his music into competitions.
“I have always wanted to be a musician,” Beebe said. “I knew it would be difficult to pursue, but I knew it was right for me. Everyone gets one chance to pursue what they love. My family has been so supportive and has helped me tremendously with my career development. They have been to every concert I have performed in.”
Other than his family’s support and his own hard work, Beebe credits much of his success to his USF music instructors, McCormick, Michael Timpson, assistant professor of composition and Paul Reller, an associate professor of composition.
“Michael Timpson opened my eyes to composition and was a big influence on me,” Beebe said. “I wouldn’t be a composer if it wasn’t for him. Paul Reller is another really big influence on my development.”
Beebe realizes that to mature musically, he had to be able to accept critique through his training at USF.
“It’s about being humble and not taking anything personally,” Beebe said. “People are your outlet. They’re giving you feedback and if no one listens to your music, there’s no point. Music is for people.”
The University of South Florida is one of the nation's top 63 public research universities and one of only 25 public research universities nationwide with very high research activity that is designated as community engaged by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. USF was awarded $380.4 million in research contracts and grants in FY 2008/2009. The university offers 232 degree programs at the undergraduate, graduate, specialist and doctoral levels, including the doctor of medicine. The USF System has a $1.8 billion annual budget, an annual economic impact of $3.2 billion, and serves more than 47,000 students on institutions/campuses in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Sarasota-Manatee and Lakeland. USF is a member of the Big East Athletic Conference.