Meet SCF jazz student Luca Stine, who will perform in New York City and at Newport Jazz Festival this summer
Luca Stine doesn't just play trumpet. He swings.
In the jazz world, the official definition of "swing" is contested, but it comes down to the magic moment when jazz sounds and feels just right.
According to State College of Florida jazz instructor Peter Carney, swinging at such a young age is rare.
"Trumpet is the hardest instrument to swing on," Carney said. "Even great trumpet players don't swing until they're like 25."
Stine, a home-schooled high school junior dual-enrolled at SCF, is 16.
Stine emailed Carney last summer and asked if he could audition for the college jazz band. Carney told him to come on in.
"After about three notes in I knew he could play," Carney said. "I was like, 'Holy cow.' It was immediate. Jazz is sort of like a dialect. If you speak that dialect, it sounds right. That's what jazz is supposed to sound like."
Stine has known from a young age that he wanted to be a musician. It was in his family. Stine's mom plays clarinet; his dad plays trumpet. They both went to Manhattan School of Music and spent time playing around New York City during their youths.
When the inevitable time came for Stine to pick an instrument, he could not commit to just one.
After dabbling with a few, Stine started playing violin in third grade.
Trumpet followed soon after, when Stine joined the school band in fifth grade. It became a serious passion near the end of middle school.
"I'm definitely better at trumpet. I picked two of the hardest instruments," Stine said, laughing.
Stine said he wishes he could have started playing sooner. At age 2, perhaps. Somehow, he has managed to keep up with others in his field who started playing not long after they started walking and talking.
These days, trumpet has taken the forefront for Stine, but he still spends hours practicing both instruments daily.
It has given him a rare glimpse into the worlds of both jazz and classical music. Stine said playing violin was a good foundation, but there is something different about jazz trumpet.
"It's such a different feeling," Stine said. "There's no structure, so you have to make structure for yourself. There's no time to think. You're taken to a different place."
This summer, Stine will perform in two renowned places for jazz artists.
The first stop will be New York City to participate in Jazz at Lincoln Center's Summer Jazz Academy. The program provides 42 of the country's best jazz students with group and private instruction, lessons with jazz masters and opportunities to perform in big bands and small combos.
The program is directed by jazz legend Wynton Marsalis, and the faculty is comprised of seven accomplished players. Stine will study under trumpeter Marcus Printup.
Last year, Marsalis joined students onstage for one of the big band performances. Stine's fingers are crossed that it will happen again.
Stine's second stop this summer will be Rhode Island for Berklee's Global Jazz Institute Workshop at Newport Jazz Festival. The program culminates with the students playing onstage. Newport Jazz Festival has been a stop for many jazz greats over the years, from Miles Davis to John Coltrane.
Stine heard about both opportunities through jazz camps he has attended over the years. Last year he tried out but did not make it in to either program.
Success came this time after a year of classes and private lessons with Carney at SCF.
This semester, he took English, History of World War II, jazz band and jazz combo at the Bradenton campus, in addition to taking private lessons with Carney.
Carney is an accomplished jazz musician in his own right who spent 20 years in Chicago playing saxophone. He also taught college part time.
Carney returned to his native Florida a little over a year ago for a a music instructor job at SCF. Carney says he never set out to be a teacher.
"I kind of wanted to go out in the world and be a jazz guy," Carney said. "I did that, and enjoyed touring and learning about music and being a professional musician. I got into teaching along the way. Eventually I had something to come back from the world with and share."
Carney also wrote a book on a teaching method that he coined, called interactive listening.
"I was teaching music appreciation, teaching people how to listen to music from a musicians perspective," Carney said. "It just started as a collection of worksheets. What worked was getting them to listen to their homework using YouTube."
Carney put the idea in book form, and "Interactive Listening" went on to become adopted as a teaching text at schools and universities around the world. In 2016, the state of Florida made it the official state music textbook for high school and middle school.
"I realized that I had to create games and research and puzzles that drew people in and didn't have all the answers," Carney said.
For example, he would have students figure out who Beethoven was and why he was important using digital tools instead of lecturing about Beethoven.
"It started as a simple change," Carney said. "I wasn't the only one thinking about it at that time, but I started putting it together in a way that appealed to other teachers."
Carney was even invited to give a Ted Talk on his methods in 2016.
Stine is part of a recent trend of success stories for the jazz program at SCF since Carney started teaching.
SCF students took five out of 20 spots at the Florida College System Activities Association 2018 Winter Symposium, the most of any school in the state.
Carney is also working on providing students with more performance opportunities, such as a spot at next year's Lakeside Jazz Festival in Port Orange.
Stine hopes to pass along his craft through teaching one day too, though he says he would just teach private lessons.
"Being a jazz musician, you have a responsibility to pass it along," Stine said.
Carney admits he is a little envious of Stine's performance schedule this summer, but he says that no one deserves it more.
"He's in a special category for passion and talent," Carney said.
For Stine, music is the only thing that he would consider spending his life pursuing right now.
"It's just who I am," Stine said.
Luca Stine recommends:
If you're not too hot on jazz, or you're just not sure it's the music for you, Luca Stine has a few recommendations.
Stine says his biggest influences at the moment are Wynton Marsalis, Freddy Hubbard and Dexter Gordon.
For newbies, Stine says to try:
1. Frank Sinatra
2. Chet Baker
3. Dexter Gordon