Music Academy Spotlight: Yejin Ahn

Yejin Ahn, 18, is in her third year at the Music Academy studying with Yehuda Gilad. She is from Seoul, South Korea.

This interview has been lightly edited for style, content, and clarity.

Why did you come to Colburn?
I took a trip to LA and I brought my clarinet to practice because I was here for a month. I met someone from USC who was [Yehuda Gilad]’s student, so he got me to have a lesson with Yehuda. I decided to audition and I got in.

What is your favorite thing about Colburn?
The environment. I can really focus on music and I can really plan my future, my career in music.

You’re in a chamber group. What’s it like working with them?
This is actually our second year in the same group together. There’s clarinet, bassoon, and flute, so it’s a woodwind trio. I’ve never been in a woodwind trio, so at first I didn’t think we could make a full harmony with just the three instruments, but it was actually really great collaborating. So I think it’s really good and we’re a really good group.

Why do you play the clarinet?
My dad first suggested that I play the clarinet, and I started in fifth grade when I was 11. He was playing saxophone and he said that the clarinet is like the voice of a person. He thought it would fit me well. I started and I changed it to my major.

What are some pieces you’re working on right now?
I’m working on Stravinsky’s Three Pieces and Crusell’s Concerto.

Why did you choose those pieces?
I chose them for my applications for my college auditions to show my technical and musical skills. For example, Stravinsky is my solo piece. It’s without an accompanist, so I can really make music, like I don’t need to think about anything and I can just make music by myself and I can choose the tempo and everything.

What are your musical influences?
Other Colburn students. I always hear them playing from the practice rooms and they’re really productive and I think that really inspires me.

Do you go to student performances to hear them play?
Yeah, for example the [Music Academy Young Artist Performances].

Have you ever performed on that recital series? What’s that like?
It’s really good to actually hear other people playing. Since I’m a woodwind and almost every other student is strings, I don’t really get to listen to their playing, so it’s a really good experience to hear friends play.

What about when you’re performing?
I get really nervous before going on stage, but whenever I go on, it’s fine—whenever I start to play.

How do you prepare for a performance?
Whenever I practice, I act like it’s the real stage. I also ask friends to listen to me and tell me what I need to improve.

What are your interests outside music?
I really like listening to not only classical, but pop songs. Whenever I listen to pop songs, the singers really enjoy their music so I feel like I need to enjoy my music more. I feel like I’m really intense when I’m playing, and they’re actually having fun.

Why do you love music?
That’s a hard question. I think music always helps to change my mood whenever I’m in a bad mood. From music, I can change my mood and feel better, and even during my practice.

The weekly Saturday Spotlight series highlights our outstanding students, faculty, and staff from across the school. Read other spotlight interviews.