Ok this post is LONG over due, but I’ve been fairly busy lately. So better late than never.

I may have mentioned here or there that my family background is of Croatian heritage and that I grew up performing in a Croatian folk group, The American Zagreb Junior Tamburitzans.

The American Zagreb Junior Tamburitzans perform traditional Croatian songs and dances and also learn to play folk instruments. The members of the group usually range in age from 5-18. Most members join at a young age and stay until they go off to college. The group does one big concert in the spring, travels to the Croatian Fraternal Union Festival every year (travel all over the U.S., Canada and to Croatia), as well as performs at picnics, churches, and as a guest group for other junior groups.

For me, this is a family tradition. My mom and her brothers performed in this same group when they were growing up and my Uncle is the musical director for both American Zagreb and Cleveland Junior Tamburitzans (that’s right there are actually 2 junior groups in Cleveland and there are adult groups as well).  I joined the group when I was 4 years old and performed with the group until I was 18. When I was little I had no idea that not everyone did this, to me it was as normal as going to school, something everyone did. 

That’s me on the right.

For the big anniversary years, the group brings back the alumni and has them perform for the big concert of the year. This year was the 55th anniversary!

Program Book Cover

When I heard they were doing the alumni concert this year I was stoked! I missed performing so much, it was a huge part of my life growing up.

*I have limited digital pictures from anything before 1999 but the one on the left is at least 10 years old. The one on the right is about a month old. I have known these girls since I was 4 years old and we are all still friends today.


After just a few practices, us alumni were ready to go. I was kind of shocked how fast we learned everything. It’s like learning to ride a bike, you never forget how to play your instruments and the dance steps come back fairly fast as well.


*Please note that these are pics my Mom took. Clearly I get my photography skills from her.

Sorry no video of the alumni performance, you’ll have to settle for these random pictures I found on Facebook. Yes I am aware that one is really blurry 😦


 I have no idea if this video will work but we’ll give it a shot. This is a video of the final dance from the junior group kids. They did such a great job, so many talented individuals in the group.

I am so happy that I was able to come back and perform with them this year. However, I look forward to many years of watching my little sister perform with them!!!!!


Anyone else have some unique family traditions? Speak another language or play an instrument? All of our songs and dances are performed in Croatian language and I can play Brac and Prim (which most of you have no idea what that is).

Perfect day to post this since Croatia plays Italy in the Euro Cup today.

3 thoughts on “Tamburitza

  1. I wish my family had cool ethnic traditions like this. I’m 25% Irish, confirmed. It’s highly possibly I’m actually more German than Irish, but we don’t really know and never try to find out. Our family tradition is to every year try to suppress the thought that we may have distant family ties with Nazis.

  2. I’m am American, the grandson of a Serb from Croatia. I’m trying to learn how to play Prim but there seems to be little info available. I’ve found books on history of tambura but not so much on technique. Any suggestions? I can read Croatian and Serbian, so it doesn’t matter which language it’s in. Thanks!

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