He plays; they play.
He stops; they stop.
Tobin Wagstaff, founder of Studio Percussion Music & Dance Center, has been encouraging Gainesville youth to get involved in music for more than a decade.
Wagstaff’s non-profit music school helps provide those with financial limitations and at-risk youth with the opportunity to learn how to play music at a low cost. The studio is participating in the ongoing University of Florida Gators’ soccer season, playing on the drum line for every home game.
They’ll be back on the bleachers supporting the UF team on Friday, Sept. 6.
Wagstaff knew that everyone can’t afford music lessons, so he created a comprehensive scholarship program that allows students to pay for classes at low rates.
Scholarship applications take income, expenses and financial hardship into consideration. Monthly rates for lessons vary from $15 to $30, depending on the student’s needs, according to Wagstaff.
“My son has never not wanted to go… even to this day,” said Barbara Fuller, mother of one Wagstaff’s students. A friend referred her to Studio Percussion seven years ago.
Wagstaff, a former UF Gators’ Marching Band member, began offering private lessons at his home in 2002.
Those students are now adults.
“It’s really cool to see the impact that I had in these guys when they we were young,” he said.
Some started families; some opened studios on their own; some continue with music. But most kept in touch.
Without Wagstaff’s mentoring, Fuller said, her 15-year-old son George probably wouldn’t have made the decision to start his own band at age 13.
His students are not the only people he has helped out.
“My biggest privilege is that I’m able to teach music, ”said Gidon Herman, assistant coordinator at the studio. “He gave me the possibility of doing it when other places didn’t.”
Herman said he always wanted to work teaching piano and guitar lessons, but the lack of formal musical education made him unable to find a job.
Wagstaff gave him the chance to work at Studio Percussion.
Since then, Herman helped Wagstaff expand the studio’s programs to coordinate events like the homecoming parade.
Wagstaff’s achievements haven’t gone unnoticed.
He gained national attention in 2009 when he was selected to be a part of the TV show “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” due to his work and presence in the community.
“I’m interested in providing a hand up,” Wagstaff said. “At whatever rate you end up paying, we’ll help you out and meet you where you are and make it work for you.”
Preparations for the homecoming parade performance are coming up, Wagstaff said, as well as fundraisers in which volunteers would be needed.
Scholarship information and a list of lessons and classes can be found on the organization’s website, studiopercussion.org.