300 Words: Student finds voice in music

300 Words is a series of stories highlighting students from around campus and the journeys they've experienced. If you have a suggestion of a student to cover, contact the editors at oracleeditor@gmail.com

Junior Drake Middlebrook found his way to music early in life, but it took more time for him to find an enjoyment in teaching music. ORACLE PHOTO/CHAVELI GUZMAN

Drake Middlebrook has always been in love with music, but it wasn’t until fourth grade that his musical journey began.

After learning to play three instruments — guitar, saxophone and bassoon — and performing in his middle and high school bands, Middlebrook found his passion for teaching music after he created his high school’s first ever jazz band.

Now a junior majoring in music education, his passion for music has expanded from playing in his free time. It led him to insert himself as in the local music community.

From helping his peers to teaching high school students music, he influences people to recognize the power of music and grow their own passion for the art.

“Music, for me, has given me a voice when I thought I would never be able to find a voice for myself,” Middlebrook said.

After struggling with his own identity in music during his freshman year, his experiences in the USF School of Music began to redefine his identity and push him more than he imagined.

“Once I stopped comparing myself to others, I started focusing on myself,” Middlebrook said. “That’s when I really started to excel.”

Middlebrook’s dedication to his passion was shown through his involvement in USF HOT Band, multiple wind ensembles, serving as a mentor for music-loving high schoolers and recently being awarded an invitation to the 2018 Music Technology Leadership Academy in February at San Antonio.

Understanding the confusing and revealing feelings that are a part of the college experience, Middlebrook advises students to make time to be alone to truly learn about themselves.

“Once you have that, then you are able to navigate what you do next,” Middlebrook said. “You’re going to stumble along the way, but having a definition of what you want to do helps.”