Fujara teacher in the US: Americans are enchanted by the instrument

Unique Slovak musical instrument draws attention abroad, also thanks to Czechoslovak expatriate Bob Rychlik.

(Source: Archive of Bob Rychlik)

The Slovak Spectator (TSS): What does a fujara lesson look like?

Bob Rychlik (BR): It’s a one-week long course once a year, every lesson lasting an hour and fifteen minutes. In the first lesson, I explain how to hold a fujara,

depending on the student being right or left-handed. It is important to learn to control over breathing. The stronger you blow, the the higher tone you get. At the end of the course we have a concert where the students can perform. I teach my students some melodies, usually Slovak folk songs. Then some simple American folk songs.

TSS: How many people attend your courses?

BR: About five or six students per year. I have been teaching for seven years now. The group mostly comprises Americans who are charmed by the instrument. They are mostly people who have never played a musical instrument before. However, some of them even have a fujara at home but usually I bring mine to the lesson. Most people who have a fujara use it as decoration. Not every fujara is suitable for playing, mainly when it is made by an enthusiastic wood carver, but not a musician.

TSS: Do Slovaks living in the USA attend your classes or Americans with Slovak ancestors?

BR: Not really. In those seven years, I met about only four students of Slovak origin. Slovaks are usually prejudiced because they know the musical instrument. For example, they use to say that only men play a fujara – which was true in the past. Americans are more enthusiastic. Students sometimes come to the lesson from a great distance. One 72-year-old man drove with his wife for two days from Wisconsin to Maryland just to attend my classes. He had some ancestors from Slovakia and he was really excited to learn how to play the fujara.

TSS: How long does it take to learn how to play the fujara?

BR: When you learn to control your breathing and blow into the fujara with a different intensity. Most of the time, people learn the technique the very first day. Then you can play the fujara. It differs from usual musical instruments like the piano or guitar. Every keyboard or string there means one tone and if a person cannot play it, it doesn’t sound good to the human ear. With the fujara, it is different. The tones that come from the fujara sound so natural and usually likeable. Everyone starts to play his or her own music on the fujara.

TSS: What is your motivation for teaching these classes?

The rest of this article is premium content at Spectator.sk
Subscribe now for full access

I already have subscription - Sign in

Subscription provides you with:
  • Immediate access to all locked articles (premium content) on Spectator.sk
  • Special weekly news summary + an audio recording with a weekly news summary to listen to at your convenience (received on a weekly basis directly to your e-mail)
  • PDF version of the latest issue of our newspaper, The Slovak Spectator, emailed directly to you
  • Access to all premium content on Sme.sk and Korzar.sk

The processing of personal data is subject to our Privacy Policy and the Cookie Policy. Before submitting your e-mail address, please make sure to acquaint yourself with these documents.

Top stories

So blue! Slovakia has another record in UNESCO

It is not easy to create a perfect blueprinted fabric.

Russia expels Slovak military diplomat

He must leave the country within 48 hours.

Illustrative stock photo

Slovak airports have unused potential

But several obstacles prevent their growth.

The Transport Ministry will receive more funds from the 2019 budget to support the development of airports in Slovakia.

How can we improve the integration of foreigners in Bratislava?

Municipalities recognise there is a lack of outreach on the part of administrators to foreigners, but the problem goes both ways.

Several foreigners attended the latest round table hosted by the Human Rights League.