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FSC's Annual String Camp

The Lasting Legacy of Florida Southern's String Camp

Jul 18, 2023

Once a year, the lush campus of Florida Southern College transforms into a haven for musicians as the highly anticipated String Camp takes center stage. The camp has become a cherished tradition, attracting generations of talented musicians who gather to celebrate the power of music and grow both individually and as a community.

Florida Southern's summer String Camp is a one-week, intensive program designed to educate and inspire young string players in grades 7–12 with a rigorous and stimulating curriculum. The camp is structured to allow students to grow in technique and musicianship and is offered as both a day camp and as a residential opportunity.

"Every summer, thousands of young musicians attend educational programs across the U.S., but there's something really special that happens here," explains Dr. Martha Placeres, director of orchestra and strings studies at Florida Southern College, who headed up the camp and planned the week-long event culminating in a full concert performance experience for the campers.

"When I started [planning], I wanted to make sure students had a venue to continue their development as musicians," she said. Like other camps, students are challenged musically and technically in their instruments. But here, they connect with generations of musicians through a lineup of engaging workshops, masterclasses, and performances by esteemed guest artists.

"They have a wonderful time learning from professionals, both FSC faculty and orchestra directors around the area, and that's one of the main reasons they come back. We have a lot of students that return to our camps."

Scarlett Orchestra

For Sophie Gillespie, a Lake Buena High School student, the String Camp provides the perfect opportunity to refine her technique. This summer, she focused on bow placement and tone quality to achieve a clean and precise sound. Having participated in the camp for several summers, Sophie has formed lasting friendships and fallen in love with the beautiful surroundings of Florida Southern College.

Samantha Segurn

Harrison Center for the Performing Arts student Samantha Segurn (right) poses with her sister, FSC music performance major Georgina Pirona.

Samantha Segurn, a rising sophomore at Lakeland's Harrison Center for the Performing Arts, resonated with the experience's leadership opportunities, serving as concertmaster for the Scarlet Orchestra, the camp's advanced group. "This is my first time leading an orchestra. Learning to support other musicians was challenging but also really fun."

Samantha's older sister and Florida Southern College student Georgina Pirona, who spent the week as a counselor, found immense joy in witnessing the growth of her campers as they expressed themselves through music. She believes that the short duration of the camp allows for significant progress.

"It has been incredibly gratifying to see them evolve musically," said Pirona, noting young musicians don't often have opportunities to work in such a professional setting. "Seeing them take ownership and pride in their work is so inspiring," said the music performance major who plans to run her own viola and violin studio and establish a youth orchestra after graduation.

Sophie Gillespie and Cale Francisco

Repeat campers Sophie Gillespie (right) and Cale Francisco. See photos of the Scarlett Orchestra

Cale Francisco, attending the camp for the second time, aimed to level up his skills on the viola. His brother, Hayden, also participated in the camp, playing in the lower band.

Together, they found inspiration and guidance from Kay Payne, an FSC music education graduate who now teaches orchestra in Port Orange, Fla. Payne, who will earn her Ed.D. in a few weeks, attended the String Camp as a high school student and was convinced to continue her musical journey at Florida Southern College. Now, she is thrilled to contribute to the camp's legacy and witness counselors' profound effects on the students, both musically and personally.

Kay Payne

FSC alumna Kay Payne with some of her orchestra students from Port Orange, Fla. See photos of the lower orchestra

The String Camp at Florida Southern College has become a beloved tradition that continues to attract students year after year. Fostering musical growth, building connections, and creating lasting memories, the camp allows orchestra students and their families to become a part of the campus's inspiring musical community. As the camp thrives, the most rewarding aspect for everyone involved is witnessing the transformation of students into accomplished musicians. The connections built during the camp extend beyond the week itself, fostering camaraderie and a lifelong appreciation for music.

If you have a student who plays orchestral instruments, we encourage you to reach out and explore the various opportunities at FSC. Whether through matriculation, attending concerts, or participating in events like the String Camp, Florida Southern College welcomes musicians of all levels to participate in our traditions and contribute to the vibrant orchestral community.