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Catch the rhythm of Slovakia's music courses

A CLOSE friend of mine who lives in America loves music (hudba). He's been playing piano for 10 years. When he came to Slovakia for work, he was impressed that one of his colleagues could play the fujara, a large traditional wind instrument that produces a deep, resonant sound. He told me that he would like to learn how to play it.
If you have also found yourself thinking about learning a musical instrument (hudobný nástroj), this is the time of year to start. Applications for the music courses run by the state-run Elementary Art Schools (základné umelecké školy, or simply ZUŠ) must be submitted by the end of May.
The ZUŠ-ka, as people often refer to this type of school, is just one of three options for studying music. There are also private music schools (súkromné umelecké školy) and private teachers.

A CLOSE friend of mine who lives in America loves music (hudba). He's been playing piano for 10 years. When he came to Slovakia for work, he was impressed that one of his colleagues could play the fujara, a large traditional wind instrument that produces a deep, resonant sound. He told me that he would like to learn how to play it.

If you have also found yourself thinking about learning a musical instrument (hudobný nástroj), this is the time of year to start. Applications for the music courses run by the state-run Elementary Art Schools (základné umelecké školy, or simply ZUŠ) must be submitted by the end of May.

The ZUŠ-ka, as people often refer to this type of school, is just one of three options for studying music. There are also private music schools (súkromné umelecké školy) and private teachers.

From all these options, you can expect to pay the least and have the least flexibility at the state schools. The fee for private schools is higher and so is the quality of teaching. Private teachers tend to be the most open to a student's suggestions and requirements.

There are about 140 state art schools in Slovakia (10 in Bratislava), and whether you are a beginner (začiatočník) or an advanced (pokročilý) student, you have to take an entrance exam. Beginners take an exam so their aptitude for the specific instrument can be measured. If you already have some musical experience, the exam is necessary so you can be put in the right class.

The payment for these state courses does not depend on the type of the instrument you decide to study, but rather on your age. Children up to six years pay Sk20 per month, elementary and high-school children pay Sk40, and adults pay Sk60.

If you do not want to be bothered with the application deadlines you can start a music course in a private art school at any time of year and you can do this without taking any exams. There are about 20 of these schools in the country, offering more options than state schools offer. The payment is, as expected, considerably higher, ranging from Sk250 to Sk1,100 a month, depending on how many times a week your course takes place (usually it is twice a week).

In both private and state music schools, you may find yourself learning your instrument alongside another student. In addition, you will be expected to go to theory classes, where a teacher will lecture students on reading and writing music.

If neither of the two options mentioned above suits your requirements, you will probably want to get your own teacher. Private teachers will usually design an individual study plan for you. You can find such a teacher through the Internet (most web sites, though, are not in English), or you can ask your friends and colleagues. You could also go to a music school, a conservatory, or a university and ask the teachers there for help.

One such professor, who will not teach you to play the instrument but will help you find a private teacher anywhere in Slovakia, is Peter Drlička. He speaks basic English.

Every teacher asks a different price for lessons but you should expect to pay between Sk100 and Sk500 per hour.

Students usually have to buy their own instruments, although larger instruments, like the piano (klavír) and double bass (kontrabas), are usually available at the schools.

There are several stores where you can buy musical instruments, but none have them available for hire. This service is occasionally provided by the schools, and the cost is around Sk1,000 for a half year for most instruments.

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