It all started in the spring of 1999, when Palm Beach Community College student David Bethea won in the brass category of a competition held at a statewide community college music symposium.
“Representing my college and being named the best community college brass player in the state of Florida was truly a defining moment in my life,” he said. “I know that I could not have received that award without the training and support that I received from my music professors.”
He went on to earn his bachelor’s degree from the University of North Florida, master’s degree in music from the University of South Florida and Ph.D. from Florida Atlantic University.
Dr. Bethea is now an assistant professor of music at Motlow State Community College in Lynchburg, Tenn. He teaches a variety of music courses including Music Theory, Music Appreciation and Applied Trumpet. He also directs the Motlow State Choir and Motlow State Community Band.
Looking back, he says Palm Beach State has meant a great deal to him.
“When I was just beginning, the music faculty at PBCC helped me to broaden my understanding of music while at the same time helping me to construct a tangible musical performance foundation upon which I was able to continue my studies,” said Bethea. “Likewise, when I returned to the area after completing my master’s degree, I was hired as an adjunct instructor at PBSC. For six years, I taught a variety of music courses for PBSC. Again, the PBSC professors were instructing and guiding me, except this time as an instructor.”
Three PBSC professors, in particular, have played key roles in his life. “Professors David Gibble, Michael MacMullen and Allen Webber were essential to my collegiate success, both as a student and now as a professor. In fact, I still contact them and ask for advice about teaching methodologies and course materials. I only hope that I can pass along the great passion for music that those three instilled within me.”
While conceding that music study can be intimidating, Bethea adds that individualized instruction and attention make a difference.
“Because the student to faculty ratio is lower, students are able to receive feedback and encouragement that would be impossible to achieve at a university. Thus, it is possible, as was the case with me, that graduates of PBSC can be more prepared to be a junior at a university than the students who study at the university for their first two years.”
Bethea currently lives in Tullahoma, Tenn., with his wife, Dawn, and sons, Jake and Andy.