Luca Stine wanted to learn in a place where being a musician is cool. After his sophomore year in high school, Stine decided to leave his private high school and audition for the Jazz band at State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota (SCF). Since joining the band, he’s already seeing a world of opportunity.
Stine, who has been playing different instruments since he was in the third grade, said he wanted to go to a school that valued music and musicians. He did his research and then found Pete Carney, director of jazz studies, and the SCF jazz program. It fit perfectly with what he wanted to do. And he said he fit in perfectly at SCF.
“Coming here has been exciting because there are a lot of people with similar interests,” he said. In his old high school, students were focused almost exclusively on athletics or academics. At home he was able to talk about music with his parents, who both graduated from the Manhattan School of Music and played professionally in New York City for a time. His mom plays clarinet and his dad also is a trumpet player.
After a year of studying with Carney, Stine is set to spend the summer in New York City on a scholarship to participate in the Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Summer Jazz Academy and then in Rhode Island at Berklee’s Global Jazz Institute Workshop at the Newport Jazz Festival, where he won another scholarship.
“The connections you get from these things are a very big deal,” Stine said, adding that students work with professors at the music schools they’d like to get into. Stine hopes to get in a top music school and then eventually move to New York to perform full time on the jazz circuit there.
Stine, who studies both trumpet and violin, found a place where music is respected and at the same time found a place where learning is also fun. A dual-enrolled home school student, he has taken English and history classes at SCF and said the classes have been rewarding. He enjoys his professors who are passionate about their subjects, but also available to the students. He said he learned more about world history in one class than he had ever learned.
“The teachers here…they’re not just professors – they’re exciting professors,” Stine said. “They’re not just experts in their subjects; they know how to teach.”
And it’s not just in his traditional classes, Stine said.
“The jazz program here has excelled incredibly over the last few years,” Stine said. “My improvisation has grown a lot since coming here.”
In addition to the scholarships to perform in New York and Rhode Island, Stine also won a $2,000 scholarship this year at the Suncoast Music Scholarships competition. He won in the category for 11th-graders.