Ajarn Santi’s trip to Prague

During the April break, I visited Europe with one of the purposes being visiting the Grammar and Music School of Prague, Czech Republic through the assistance of Jonas and Aksel’s grandmother. I was first met by Mrs. Iva Rakova who bought me to Mr.Jakub Waldmann, the Artistic Director of the school in his office where we had a long interview. The school was busy arranging a trip to an Austrian school in Linz to join their orchestra.

This gymnasium appears to be the best in the Czech Republic offering a normal school with an intensive Music program, as well as Music, Arts and Dance for students from outside the school. It is a state school with 750 students and 150 teachers operating from 7 am to 10 pm. Most of the teachers are part-time experienced professional musicians.  There are gymnasiums like this one in every city. The state pays for the teachers’ salaries and the parents pay a little fee to cover the maintenance of the building.

The Music school division accepts students from the age of 5 to the prep level which includes lessons for theory, notation, singing solfege and folk songs.  These subjects prepare the young students for the instrumental lessons when they are 6. They have one year of exposure to older kids playing different instruments and have an idea of what they would prefer to play. The committee can also decide to promote any talented student to the instrumental lessons sooner. At age 6, each student has 2 lessons per week – 20 minutes and 25 minutes. (Later, as the students get older the lessons will get longer.) It is strongly recommended that the parent sits in class to know what the expectation of the teacher is.

There is an examination by the gymnasium at the end of each semester. The end-of-year examination in June is a very strict one, to maintain the reputation of the school. Upon seeing the results, the committee will decide which students can continue their studies here.

After the interview, I had a tour of the gymnasium. I was shown the 6-storey building, the 2 concert halls, the general subject classrooms, the indoor swimming pool, the cafeteria and the music rooms. There are 17 double grand piano rooms. On the walls of the main hallway, there are pictures of many students who have won international competitions, although they are not pushed to compete. There are student performances every day. Once a year the students can take an audition to play with the city philharmonic orchestra.

I felt like I won a lottery to have a chance to visit this place where I was warmly welcomed. I will use what I’ve seen to improve our instrumental program here at Prem as much as possible.

If you would like to know more about the school you can have a look at their website. 



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