If you want to hear Hantz Metellus sit down and jam on the tuba, you’re out of luck. But, ask him to play pretty much any other instrument and a concert is soon to follow.
“The piano, the guitar, both acoustic and electric, the bass, electric and upright, the violin, viola and to some degree in which I’m comfortable, the drums,” he said with a grin. “Those six are the only ones you’d see me performing on.”
He admits, he jams with trumpet, recorder or even the cello, too. He’s even taken saxophone lessons. All of his musical skills come in handy when he instructs Safety Harbor Youth Ranch students on Mondays.
And, he’s not alone.
“They are the best part,” said Hantz’s wife, Lissette, who teaches voice lessons. “They’re the reason why I come here.”
A trio of 15-year olds, Shariana Hedgeman, Tynetra Redding and Acaia Jackson, all listened carefully to Lissette’s instructions during a singing lesson. The teenagers were trying to master the pitch changes in Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’.
“I used to hate Mondays, but I like Mondays now,” said Jackson with a smile.
The hour-long lessons for these kids are free. Up to eight mentors teach lessons on Mondays. About a dozen students receive lessons now, but the goal for the mentors is to expand by busing in students from Safety Harbor elementary and middle schools.
“It’s like somebody coming out of a caterpillar shell and becoming a butterfly, and that transition happens every time,” said Lissette.
Down the hall, Jasmine Schill, only 17 herself, gave a piano lesson to a young girl. They repeatedly hit keys to create soothing sounds.
“I taught one of my students and they actually taught one of their peers and their peers came to me and showed me what they learned,” said Schill. “It made me happy to know they were spreading on the material.”
The mentoring effort has impressed the Youth Ranch staff.
“I’ve met most of them and talk to most of them and, yeah, what a great group of guys,” said Tom Pichette, the Senior Youth Care Assistant. “They are so passionate about the kids.”
The lessons begin at 4:30 p.m. on Mondays. For information on lessons, visit the Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranch website.
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