In the Meet Our Musicians series, Jellynote introduces you to the creators behind the sheet music on our platform. Discover their musical style and get to know them!
“Do you know where Slovenia is?”, Jasna Jurjavcic asks.
“Yes…of course…”, I reply, surreptitiously Googling a map of Europe.
“I’m surprised,” she tells me in a laugh. “Most people don’t!”
Jasna’s love of music began at the age of 6, when she told her parents that she wanted to start learning a musical instrument. What prompted this?
“I don’t know! My family is not musical at all…my brother never wanted to play. We had keyboards and plastic flutes at home and I wanted to play them all the time!”
Her parents took her to a workshop for children, which she attended for a year, playing the keyboard there.
“The teacher was a TV star! It was so awesome!”
Cut to three years later, she decided it was time to move on to the flute. The music school she’d applied to study at, however, did not.
“Apparently flute was really popular back then so I didn’t get to play it,” she says, with an air of bitterness.
Instead, she continued her musical education on the piano, playing throughout high school and at the university of Ljubljana, where she studied musicology, along with piano classes at the music academy. This is when she first started arranging music.
“Those were some great years! I made some great friends and learned a lot! That was when I realised I wanted to be a teacher. I had considered it during high school, but as soon as I got to college, I knew it. I used to help my friends; we learned together. I realised that I could do it,” she tells me, revelling in nostalgia.
A degree in pedagogy later, Jasna Jurjavcic has been teaching in a school in Slovenia ever since, where she teaches piano, music theory, history of music and a lot more. For instance, she recently lead a class on making musical instruments from trash. She tends to teach high school (ages 13-18), specifically students training to be teachers themselves.
While her training lies in classical music, Jasna has found herself transcribing pop songs since teaching her students as she wants to keep them interested and inspired in their work.
➤ Want to play some of the pop songs arranged by Jasna? Check out her piano sheet music for Shallow by Lady Gaga.
“I even learned how to beatbox,” she confesses. Proof that she must really enjoy her job.
“It’s important to me that they enjoy music. If they play a song they like, the next day they come in and I can see they’ve practised at home.”
That said, Jasna has had to find a balance between being inspiring and firm. Unfortunately, her first teacher was more on the strict side.
“I’m mostly trying to be inspirational. But sometimes I have to be tough too. To those who don’t play at home, who don’t come prepared, I tried to be both. It depends on personality, I guess. I decide by what they need,” she tells me.Jasna Jurjavcic, on being a music teacher
“I hope that I’m right. I’m trying to be.”
She has students with a wide range of musical ability. Some are complete beginners, whereas others have played for 6 years. This means she has to make arrangements for a variety of levels.
While it’s difficult to cater for so many different levels, it’s a cause she is committed to.
“Music is vital. It can help us no matter what we’re feeling; sad, angry, happy…”
➤ Download the sheet music for Hall of Fame, arranged by Jasna Jurjavcic.
While she has predominantly followed the desires of her students, arranging songs that they’d want to play, she does find it sad that this sometimes comes at the expense of her Slovenian culture.
“We have a few Slovenian musicians who are popular here. They’re trying, but it’s difficult. It’s sad, but what can you do? We can try to do our best….I try to inspire our kids to listen and perform our songs. They still mostly want to learn Adele, but I try to encourage them to listen and play Slovenian songs”.
Check out her recommendations for some Slovenian artists to listen to!
“He already plays the piano! I brought him to the piano and he smashed the keys! He really enjoyed it. He was laughing so hard. He was smiling, trying to play.”
What’s next for Jasna? Well with the recent birth of her child, she envisions some Disney arrangements. Her schedule is quite busy at the moment. Any free moment during the day is usually taken up by a quick nap. But, she is keen to explore jazz – a style of music she hasn’t been exposed to before.
I suppose we’ll have to wait and see.