When Annika Ariel returned to begin her junior year at Maria Carrillo last week, her classmates in the symphonic band likely detected a marked improvement in her already remarkable skills as a clarinet player.
While other kids were getting jobs or goofing off, the 16-year-old Ariel spent much of her summer at a prestigious performing arts camp in rural Michigan called Interlochen.
This is no ordinary band camp. Ariel needed to audition to get into the program, and once there, she spent six weeks honing her craft with some of the finest instructors in the nation.
"We played 8 to 10 hours a day," Ariel said. "I really loved it."
A member of the Santa Rosa Youth Orchestra since she was in fourth grade, Ariel said one of her local instructors recommended the camp to her. It was a combination of classroom study, private lessons and three performances in the World Youth Wind Symphony.