After three months of summer vacation, the first few days of school can be a little awkward. Attempting to breach the chasm of silence, one of the first questions people usually ask is “So… what did you do over the summer?”

The inquirer is usually looking for a simple and concise answer and way to break the ice and assume the old friendship from months before. For me, this was hard.

I always get a little nervous before talking to people I either don’t know or haven’t seen for a while. There seems to be a pressure to say the right thing in the right tone with the right amount of enthusiasm.

Therefore, when asked what I did over the summer, I recited my rehearsed reply. “Oh, I went to an arts camp in Michigan.”

My friends would reply with the appropriate amount of interest, maybe ask a few questions, and then move on to a different topic.

Three months after my “arts camp” experience, however, I’m wishing I had said a little more.

My summer included some of the best six weeks of my life. I spent those six weeks at Interlochen Center for the Arts located in none other than Interlochen, Michigan. While there, I spent at least five hours a day playing the violin in addition to an average of two hours a day of personal practice.

My time at Interlochen not only improved my playing and introduced me to some of the most talented and inspiring people of my generation, but also changed my perspective on music and the arts in general forever.

After so much practicing and dedication it’s hard to come back to Country Day and listen to people complain about practicing their instrument for an hour a week.

If you actually do the math, that’s only 8.57 minutes a day, or two 30-minute chunks on the weekend.

While I understand the importance of and am proud of Country Day’s wonderful academics, it still makes me the teensiest bit sad to see so many of my peers simply not caring about music.

One of the most passionate comments that I heard at Interlochen came from the World Youth Symphony Orchestra (WYSO) conductor, Jung-Ho Pak. He told us, rather bluntly, that classical music is dying and that for it and other forms of art to make a revival, we have to care about it and show our love for it in what we do.

In fact, one of the most common statements that one would hear at camp is that the direction in which our culture goes is up to high school students and our generation now. While seemingly so simple when said, it really is thought-provoking.

In no way am I saying that we should ban all forms of modern music and start blaring Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition through our speakers.

Art comes in so many forms it’s not even funny. At Interlochen alone there were dancers, artists, musicians, writers, and actors. There is art and creativity in almost everything one sees and does in the world today.

I’ve had a lot of time to think about Jung-Ho’s words and this is what I’ve come up with. Instead of closing our minds and accepting only one genre of something so broad as music, we should open our minds and appreciate all that our world has to offer.

Most teenagers in America would think that I was speaking a foreign language if I started talking to them about Shostakovitch.

I think this is what I loved so much about people at Interlochen. Everyone was speaking the same language. There would be days when I would spend my whole lunch talking about Hilary Hahn or Joshua Bell with my fellow violinists.

Nevertheless, I still don’t know half the indie bands that many of my friends spend their lunch listening to.

This realization leads me to wish that instead of simply saying that I spent my summer at a high-class “arts camp,” I had told my friends I spent my summer at Interlochen, where I learned that there’s always more to learn and that the possibilities are endless.

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