Meet our students: Yasemin

Who? Yasemin Koyuncu (19)
From? Istanbul, Turkey
Studies? Voice (Jazz)
Year? First
What? Invites all who are interested to visit the Codarts Jazz Day on Saturday 9 February.

So, how did you end up at Codarts in Rotterdam?
“Via the Berklee College of Music in Boston. I studied voice there for six months, from January last year until last summer. Then there was a financial crisis in Turkey and suddenly the Turkish lira lost half its value and my parents could no longer afford to pay for my expensive studies in the US. And I knew about Codarts. In 2016, I was looking at music schools and visited the open days here. I spoke with Linda Bloemhard, head of the Jazz department, and others. She told me that she takes only three or four singers each year. I didn’t do an audition at the time, but I was warned, ha ha. After suddenly having to leave Boston I sent Linda an email and she invited me for an audition – on the very day after the current school year had begun! To my great joy I was accepted. Everything happens for a reason, I guess.”

What prior education have you had in your native country?
“Regular secondary school. And I’ve had singing lessons for a very long time. From the age of 8 to 13, I was in the Turkish National Children’s Choir. And I sang in musicals. During my school years I became interested in jazz and I found out that many musical songs are based on jazz pieces. I am especially inspired by female vocalists: Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan, Gretchen Parlato. I took private lessons for three years with a marvellous singing teacher: Rand Esen. She is an American who lives in Istanbul, a friend of the family. At the Berklee College of Music I had bands with a couple of compatriots. Last summer we performed in Turkey. It’s not that I sing only jazz, you know; I also do Turkish folklore. Later, I’d like to sing my own songs, in both English and Turkish. I like New Soul. After secondary school, I also worked as a teacher for two years at a music school in Istanbul, primarily for children. I started as an assistant-teacher, and later became senior teacher. Yeah, I was a young teacher. When I started there, I was 17.”

How do you like Codarts so far?
“I love it! It is so important to have one-on-one classes from your main subject teacher. You get to know each other, build a relationship, which only helps you in your development as an artist. The teachers here all have their own career in the music world, so they know what’s happening there. And I like the atmosphere here at school, the vibe. It’s so easy to jam and form bands. And everyone is very helpful. It’s great!

What is your favourite spot in Rotterdam?
“That’s a hard one… I’ve only been in the Netherlands since September and am currently living in Leiden. The historic part of Delfshaven! I like that. There’s a café there which a friend of mine calls the ‘peanut bar’ – because you get peanuts there, ha ha.”

Codarts to me is…
“… a wonderful place to be on my personal journey.”