Stanislava Lustyková, Director of Jan Deyl Conservatory and Secondary School, believes that music lifts the soul. She is responsible for everything related to the school, from the educational process through the operation of the school to economic prosperity.
Deyl's Conservatory was in the past specialized for the blind, today it is for all students. What is the deciding factor for the study?
Only talent. About thirty per cent of the students are students with disabilities, both blind and with other disabilities. It’s still true that we have one of the best special equipment in the country, such as a braille notation for the blind. And we have experienced pedagogical staff, who know how to work with handicapped students. What is more, we also have blind teachers.
So what education do you offer? Who can study at your school?
The study path offer includes several specializations. At the conservatory you can study a six-year course in music or singing, in high school a four-year GCSE course in piano tuning and related instruments with two specialisations - piano tuner or piano technician. The conservatory aims to provide education in such a way as to prepare graduates not only for further art studies, but also for the position of a teacher in primary art schools (ZUŠ) or in primary schools. In the pathway of music you can study the piano and keyboard instruments, playing string instruments, drums, wind instruments and we also teach composition. The pathway of singing is divided into two categories - classical singing and popular singing.
And study at your high school?
In a way, it is unique, because the course of piano tuning and related instruments is currently the only one in Czechia. This specialization produces piano tuners who can be blind, and piano technicians who must see. Unfortunately, this pathway is stagnant. This profession is passed on from father to son and our school is very interested in continuing this tradition. We work closely with, for example, the Bechistein company, which manufactures pianos.
Your school is a publicly funded organisation. How are you managing everything in the current pandemic crisis?
We are struggling to keep the intended capacity of the courses. Students from all over Czechia, but also from abroad, study with us, and boarding houses are not operating in the state of emergency. We use various platforms for distance learning, but they are insufficient. But we have great educators, and thanks to them, this demanding way of teaching works. Our school used to actively rent our space to other artists, such as our beautiful concert hall, and from these funds we paid for various competitions for students, participated in courses abroad, bought equipment for the rehearsal room and other necessary things. The shortfall in 2020 was 2.5 million crowns. I'd rather not count now how much it has been in 2021. The authority, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, have not cut our funds.
This is true, and also important personalities of our music have taught at your school. Can you mention some?
From the past it was, for example, Professor Václav Riedlbauch, composer, head of the opera of the National Theatre in Prague, director of the Czech Philharmonic. Or the well-known composer Vadim Petrov, who wrote music for films and fairy tales. Or former choirmaster of the Prague State Opera Antonín Šídlo, or concert singer Brigita Šulcová. Now we have such teachers as opera singers Zdeňka Kloubová Puklická, cellist Petr Šporcl, Czech Philharmonic drums player Pavel Polívka, well-known pianist Jaroslava Vernerová Pěchočová, popular singer Lída Nopová, composer and teacher Ondřej Štochl, or piano accompanist Ahmad Hedar. And I could keep going, because all our teachers are great. And thanks to them, the school has an excellent reputation.
Can you mention a few achievements you are proud of?
Our students perform with well-known orchestras such as the Prague Symphony Orchestra, the Prague Chamber Philharmonia, the Karlovy Vary Symphony Orchestra, the West Bohemian Symphony Orchestra of Mariánské Lázně, and the B. Martinů Philharmonic of Zlin. We also perform abroad. We cooperate with the Office of the President, we performed in the Spanish Hall of Prague Castle during the visit of Prince Charles (graduate singers Miroslav Orság and Petra Musilová), with PKF for the Leontinka Foundation and the Mathilda Endowment Fund, whose patron is the Countess Nostitz (again Orság and Musilová); we have also performed in St George’s Convent on the occasion of Barack Obama's visit with his wife.
I was intrigued by the fact that you also organize charity concerts in the theme of "the needy help the needy", for example, the Concert for the Hospital of the Sisters of Mercy was nice. How do students perceive such events and how do you?
Our students are always excited that they can give joy to others, in fact to everyone. I am personally impressed by every performance of our students, because they go from their hearts. I really like this school, there is a reason for us being known for being a family-type school. At our school, students help each other, in fact, we don’t even make full use of the teaching assistant. It is completely normal that when first-year students start school, the older ones help out. This is one of the most common activities at this school. We wouldn’t be where we are if it wasn’t for the collaborators and people for whom music is close to their hearts.
About the conservatory
The Jan Deyl Conservatory and High School is housed in an ancient building of the former early Baroque palace of the Strakas of Nedabylic in Prague's Lesser Town. The beautiful concert hall is a rarity, covered with illusory murals. The building is complemented by two other buildings with art classrooms, a boarding house and a school cafeteria. The institute was established as a charitable facility intended for the education of blind youth. In its work, music teaching had been increasingly emphasized since the 1920s with the intention of preparing students for the profession of music teachers and piano tuners.