Ah, the joys of summer music camp—one of the greatest ideas of the human race, right up there with Snickers ice cream bars and compound interest. The experience of a summer at a good music camp is an essential part to speedy, varied, and interesting musical growth, and the friendships you make there can last you a lifetime (at least I think they will). I’m writing this as a break from packing; I leave tomorrow and I can’t wait.

Summer music camp, as well as being an enjoyable social experience, can be the most productive time of the year to improve on your instrument. During the academic year, it’s easy for even the most focused individuals to lose track of musical goals because of the demands of school, sports, etc. Going somewhere where everyone is focused on music and where the day revolves around lessons and rehearsals has to be more productive than one Saturday a week at your local conservatory prep division.

With more time in the day to practice and rehearse, there’s less stress in trying to fit more music in. It’s also great being around solely kids who share your passion for classical music. How great that everyone “gets” you.

Summer music camp can teach you to be more independent. The more advanced the programs get, the more you are relied upon to organize rehearsals and make sure you are keeping up with expectations. After all, there are no non-musical commitments to provide excuses for not having learned this week’s assigned étude. Plus, it was at camp that I learned the two most important rules of independence: if you do not clean your bathroom it will get really gross, and learning how to do your own laundry is essential to survival.

Camp is the best part of the year for me. It provides a nice contrast and break from school and the stress of trying to excel at everything. I don’t have to explain to anyone yet again why I can’t attend some social function because of a rehearsal or concert. I don’t have to choose between a little extra studying for that math exam and practicing that Piatti caprice. The countdown to the beginning of camp starts around September, and by June I am updating my email or Facebook status daily to say exactly how many days until camp. I’m off to finish the last minute packing—can’t forget that metronome—and tomorrow I leave for a musical paradise.