To me, IMIF is an opportunity for growth. Definitely musically, but also (very much so) as a person. I've attended IMIF for four years, and each year I have been further nurtured to become the best human and musician I can be.
IMIF 2014 was one of the most exciting and fulfilling experiences I've had in my life. I learned, I laughed, and I lived. I tried new things. One of the most memorable moments was when Prof. Brian Ganz asked me to pretend to be a mouse (for my performance selection, Aaron Copland's "Cat and Mouse"). When I did (and the audience laughed), I didn't feel ridiculous. Instead, I felt excited, even proud. If Professor Ganz told me to act like a mouse, it meant that he knew I had the guts to do it. I probably wouldn't have been able to do it had I not been surrounded by musicians that had become close friends I'd keep for a lifetime.
The reasons I come back are plentiful, and they grow each year. I am inspired by all who I encounter at the institute, wether they are a student or faculty member. I plan to come back to IMIF until I get the last bit of knowledge I possibly can out of it. The experiences and inspiration I have gained and received from it will benefit me for ever.
Kara Iwanowski is a 13-year-old pianist from Bel Air, Maryland.