Do you think that ensemble playing is important for student musicians? If so, why?
It may seem counterintuitive, but I actually think that ensemble playing is very much like a team sport. Sometimes you are playing offense, sometimes defense on a sports team. Sometimes you have the melody, and sometimes the accompaniment within a music ensemble. Both can be about the excitement of the interactions the players have with one another, and both can be about building on our humanity through team spirit.
In sport and in music, it matters that the other players on your team respect you as a player. So, you will do your best and you will do your practice because you want to bring the best to your team; you (the young player) want to bring your all, and it propels you to keep practicing, and stay focused.
This is why I think youth ensemble participation is so important for young people. It is a positive way to interact with peers and friends, to grow (your brain, your confidence, your sense of connection), and to be excited about what you are doing; all in the process of celebrating great art and building valuable skills for the future (teamwork, self awareness, consideration of others, the list goes on!).