TWINSBURG — A budding young musician was recently given a gift that can be beat — a drum kit.
Once a year for the past several years, drum teacher Van Stone has bestowed upon a talented young person a drum kit he has purchased and refurbished at his own expense. This year, Stone chose to give away a drum kit in Twinsburg where he substitute teaches at the Family Learning Center for Music, owned by Vince and LuAnn Menti.
The Mentis host a number of open mic and jam nights around Twinsburg. Among those events is an open mic night at Sassy’s Bar and Grille on Ravenna Road. Stone said Vince Menti, his friend for many years, was eager to help surprise one lucky youth.
Justice Cassidy, 12, of Canton, had no idea when she attended Sassy’s Rock Open Mic Night earlier this month with fellow members of EN-RICH-MENT Drum Line Academy of Stark County that she would be leaving with a drum kit with her name painted on the bass drum.
“I’m like — wow. Mind blown,” Justice said. She can thank her mother, Debbie Blanc, for acting as her promoter, sharing news and videos of her daughter’s progress as a young percussionist on Facebook.
Blanc has known Van Stone through mutual friends in the local music scene, and they are friends on Facebook. She said when Stone called her and told her he wanted to give Justice a drum kit, she was “blown away.”
Blanc said Justice shows a lot of promise as a drummer. Justice was promoted on the drum line from junior varsity to varsity after 14 nine-hour rehearsals. Last summer she marched with the drum line in the Pro Football Hall of Fame Parade.
Stone, who grew up in Chardon and lives in Broadview Heights, said he remembers when he badly he wanted a set of drums but his father couldn’t afford to buy him a new one. When he found a used drum kit, his dad was more accommodating, offering to buy it for him if he promised to help paint the house.
“He made the mistake of buying the kit first,” Stone said. “So my old man was out there painting while I was in the top room beating on the drums.”
Now Stone wants to give back. For the past five years, he has gone online and through social media, tracking down one talented young person who shows promise.
“I’m always looking for somebody who’s striving to be a musician and do well,” Stone said.
When he finds someone who shows promise, he calls the parents and asks whether their child has a drum kit and, if not, whether help was needed to get one.
“I put it out there what I want to do so I’m not putting my efforts in the wrong direction,” he said.
This time, Stone's efforts could have double the impact.
Blanc said Justice’s twin, Jacinda, will also be able to use the drum kit because she recently joined the drum line.
Reporter Steve Wiandt can be reached at 330-541-9420, firstname.lastname@example.org or @SteveWiandt_RPC.