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Young Achiever: Melissa Akyazici

As talented youngsters go, Melissa Akyazici is definitely one to watch. When she discovered JZ School in the heart of the old French Concession three years ago, her passion for music was piqued, and it has been growing ever since. After mastering the guitar, Akyazici has garnered a reputation at JZ School as a ‘cool rock chick’, all at the tender age of 10 years old.

“When my parents found the JZ School three years ago, they asked me which instrument I wanted to play,” the fifth-grader says. “It was my dad who started showing me videos of guitarists and the artists inspired me.” At such a young age, Akyazici has not yet pinpointed any musical influences. She says she likes all types of music and does not have a favourite band.

Under the guidance of Australian guitar tutor Adam Gaensler, Akyazici has become part of a JZ School band called 666 Ensemble – the group has one class a week at the school for a total of 15 weeks each semester.

“Since I’m already in a band at the JZ School, I think I do want to be in a band when I grow up,” Akyazici says. With the tutelage of Gaensler, 666 Ensemble has been together for almost two years and has performed live on a number of occasions. Last year, they played at Shanghai Community International School’s Hongqiao campus for Turkish Children’s Day and the JZ School 2010 Spring Semester Concert. The band, made up of Melissa’s peers and classmates, rock out to an array of songs from different genres, and you can be sure to catch Akyazici busting out the guitar riffs of AC/DC’s 'Highway to Hell' and The Beatles’ 'Saw Her Standing There' on stage.

Lively in her spare time too, Akyazici enjoys playing soccer in the Active Kidz girls’ league, dancing and going to the cinema. Yet, the guitar is not the only string to the talented youngster’s bow. She is also a natural linguist, fluent in four languages – Turkish, German, Mandarin and English. Having been brought up by a Turkish mother and a German father, she has perfected Mandarin and English since moving to Shanghai in 2003.


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