Category Archives: Finnish Navy Band

Step Out of the Comfort Zone / Askel ulos mukavuusalueelta

photo by Puolustusvoimat/Kasper Andersin

At the beginning of the April I got to work in a different kind of project. My co-worker asked me already last year if I would like to sing in this concert that celebrated 100 years old Finnish Navy Band. Why not, I thought. I had been singing backing vocals in the summer and I was happy to get another chance to sing. The only thing was that they wanted to have a female singer. Well, yes I am a female but my voice is quite low.

Lately I have been learning about the ideas of head voice, chest voice and mixed voice. At the moment I am not having singing lessons but I watch for example YouTube-videos. I can hear and analyse different ways of using the voice.

I prefer to sing with my chest voice since it feels the strongest and it is closest to my speaking voice. However, for this concert we decided that I should sing with my more ladylike head voice. So I was worried about not making enough sound and I had to rely on the sound reinforcement system. And of course we practiced with a different set up than the concert would be.

photo by Puolustusvoimat/ Kasper Andersin

We also got there animal costumes for one piece. I was a squirrel that had a bet with a rabbit. This reminded me of my time working in the Oulu City Theater. It was actually really fun to get into this character of a squirrel. From working in the theater I learned that if you have to know something by heart you really need to practice and repeat it over and over again. And especially just before the performance. For this concert I learned all the lyrics by heart.

All in all the concert was exciting and I got very positive feedback altough I couldn’t hear myself very well on the stage. Even I think it is not the best way for me to sing I am proud that I took this step and had more experience with singing.

At the end I will add a link to my SoundCloud where I just added 3 solos from a jam session of our improvisation course. It was also a big step out of my comfort zone but it rewarded me a lot.

photo by Puolustusvoimat/ Kasper Andersin

Huhtikuun alussa työskentelin vähän erilaisessa projektissa. Työkaverini kysyi minua mukaan laulamaan Laivaston soittokunnan 100-vuotisjuhlakonserttiin. Lähdin mielenkiinnolla mukaan. Lauloin edellisenä kesänä taustalauluja ja olin muutenkin ajatellut, että olisi kivaa päästä laulamaan lisää. Ohjelmaan tarvittiin naislaulaja, mutta minun äänialani on melko matala.

Olen viimeaikoina hakenut tietoa eri äänityypeistä pää-ääni, rintaääni ja niiden sekoituksesta, jolle suomeksi ei löydy heti muuta käännöstä kuin keskirekisteri. En ole käynyt laulutunneilla, mutta videoiden avulla olen oppinut erottamaan eri tapoja laulaa.

Laulan mieluiten rintaäänelläni, koska se on voimakkain ja lähimpänä puheääntäni. Kuitenkin tähän konserttiin tehtiin päätös, että laulaisin naisellisemmalla pää-äänelläni. Itse olin kuitenkin huolissani, peittäisikö bändin ääni lauluni kokonaan, mutta en voinut kuin luottaa äänentoistoon. Ja tietysti harjoittelimme eri laitteilla ja tilassa kuin konsertti tulisi olemaan.

photo by Puolustusvoimat/ Kasper Andersin

Jänöjussin mäenlaskuun kuului tietenkin jäniksen ja oravan eläinasut. Itse pukeuduin oravaksi ja täytyy myöntää, että oli aika hauskaa ottaa oravan rooli. Puvusta tuli mieleen aika, jolloin työksentelin Oulun kaupunginteatterissa. Siltä ajalta olen myös oppinut, että mitä tahansa opettelen ulkoa, sitä täytyy kerrata jatkuvasti ja varsinkin ennen esitystä. Tällä kertaa opettelin ulkoa kaikki laulujen sanat.

Konsertti oli hyvin jännittävä, mutta meni hyvin ja sain hyvää palautetta ihmisiltä. Uskon, että minulle sopii paremmin laulaa matalalta, mutta sain hyvää kokemusta laulamisesta bändin kanssa ja luotan nyt kyllä enemmän myös pää-ääneeni.

photo by Puolustusvoimat/ Kasper Andersin

Loppuun lisään linkin SoundCloudiin uusiin tallenteisiin. Sooloihini, jotka äänitin improvisaatiokurssin jamisessiossa. Se oli myös suuri askel pois mukavuusalueelta, mutta palkitsi valtavasti.


Bluetooth Headphones

My old and cheap earphones began to break. I had difficulties to get the sound from the left side and had to turn the wire many times. I was frustrated since I always carried them inside a case and took quite good care of them. After a while I decided that it is time to update my earphones and I got interested in Bluetooth headphones.

I don’t really like big and bulky headphones but I saw there are new wireless earphones and even completely without any wires. So only two little earbuds and they come in a case that is at the same time the charger. I was looking at the prices and they were little bit too expensive for my taste. I had spent earlier less than 10 euros for my earphones. Then there was a good sales price and I purchased a couple. I was excited to try them for the first time but then I was very disappointed.

I was reading about Bluetooth more and there is always a delay with the audio with Bluetooth headphones and earphones. Usually it is not really noticeable. However with these earphones the delay was huge! I was watching videos with bad lip sync and got frustrated. I went back to shop and they told me that because there is no wire between the buds, they are are also connected with Bluetooth. So it just takes too much time to get the sound from the device to bud A and through it to the bud B.

These type of earphones are suitable for listening music but I do watch videos quite a lot so I don’t want to buy another headphones for that. And that’s why I changed the type for Bluetooth earphones with a wire that goes behind the neck. I chose these because I have really small ears and these ones were the smallest available at the moment. They were cheaper than the ones I got first and I have had them now almost half a year and I just checked that the price has come down a bit. These are also meant to be for sports so it is safe to sweat with these. I haven’t actually used them for sports yet myself since I’ve found other use for them. But for sure I believe they work fine with sports too.

photos by Heli Palomaa

Very often we have programs at work that are possible to listen from streaming services. I like to practice by listening as well as playing and I will get a lot better picture of the whole piece by listening than just playing my part. I find that it helps also to learn the tempo and the intonation faster. And I know immediately which parts I have to practice more if I can’t play them along the music.

I did this with my old earphones as well but many times I dropped my phone because of the wire. I had to stay very close to the phone. With Bluetooth I can move freely and even leave my phone to recharge. That was not possible before.

I also have a cat at home who is not really a music lover. Now I can connect my earphones either on my laptop or my phone and listen to music at home moving around and yet I don’t bother my cat. I also use them while vacuuming the apartment. These earphones block almost all noises from outside so it makes vacuuming more pleasant. Unfortunately also vacuuming bothers my cat and I can only close the door for her…

These earphones automatically work with phone calls as well. I’ve tried it only couple of times but it works fine. There is a microphone with the earphones and you simply press one button to answer the call. I bet this is really good for noisy surroundings.

Of course there are couple of downsides as well. The first one is an annoying voice telling me the battery is low every few minutes even there is 30% left of it. I think the message could be just once or then again only when it is 10% or even 5 % left. Now it is impossible to continue listening because this message keeps repeating so often.

Then because these earphones are really in-ear model, they cause noise from your body. This usually doesn’t matter a lot if you listen to the music loud but if you listen to a voice talking it might be irritating. For example the wire sometimes causes noise when rubbing against your clothes behind the neck and I can’t eat because I can only hear the sound of me eating. For some people this might also bother while playing a wind instrument because all the resonance inside the head. But actually I use my earplugs all the time while playing in the band so I am used to this part. These earphones also didn’t come with any case but luckily I had this beautiful metal case to protect them.

All in all I wanted to tell you about this product I found very useful in my job and free time and I hope it was useful for you to read it. This blog post is not sponsored.

My earphones:
JBL Reflect Mini Bluetooth Sport in-ear Headphones

Practicing during the Holidays

I just had a great winter holiday last week in the Lapland of Finland. The purpose of holiday is to relax and give your mind a break from work and everyday life. But then there is the question whether musicians can have a completely play free holidays?

I think the answer is both yes and no. It depends on the situation. I have heard that some musicians say they never skip a day and perhaps the Christmas Eve is the only day you may let your instrument stay in the case. The argument for this is that you have to keep up the skill. And for sure you can notice the difference even after few days. After a week or even a longer period the first time of playing is suffering.

However, I find that it is perfectly fine to give your body and mind the rest. In sports science theory I have learned about supercompensation. It means that the body is developing during the rest and you can actually achieve better results after having enough rest between the training. Playing instruments are also physical and I am sure supercompensation applies in music field as well.

Have you ever had an ear worm of a piece you are practicing? As I see it, when something gets stuck in your head it means your brain is actually practicing it whether you wanted or not. So if I have something really tricky to practice I am always happy to notice that I am humming it after a practicing session.

In my opinion, it is sometimes good to have even one day break every week form playing. And not feel guilty about it but enjoy other things in your life. Of course, if you really feel like the playing is the best thing ever and you enjoy it so much that you want to use all your free time with it, go ahead. I just have found so many fascinating activities that I have difficulties to choose what to do on my free time.

So here I have basically told you reasons why I think it is completely fine to leave your instrument to cool down for holiday time. And whenever I fly somewhere I try to take as little luggage with me as possible and my instrument is not part of that list. However, for my winter holiday I decided to take my instrument with me and spend some time with it everyday. Why then?

photo by Heli Palomaa

First of all, we were travelling by car. And since we anyway took all the winter and skiing gear I thought that my instrument doesn’t really take that much space in the car. The second reason was that we stayed in a detached house so I wouldn’t bother anyone else but my companion with my playing. I have actually never got any complaint about my playing. I have even played in a hotel little bit. But anyway it is better to know that there is no one to get frustrated.

Then there is the motivation. If I don’t have any motivation why would I play? I have lost my motivation with playing couple of times and it took me a while to get back to it. I just didn’t see the point. Now my motivation is high. I am working as a musician. And we have a concert coming next week. We had a really busy week before the holiday week and I could only concentrate on that program. I also knew that this coming program is very demanding. In addition, my facial muscles were feeling really tired and even hurting a little bit. I almost got a time for a VoiceWell treatment. It is a massage therapy directly for the muscles of face and mouth and neck and it is really suitable for wind musicians and singers. So what would happen if I didn’t play at all during my holiday?

I would come back to work and probably my face would be all relaxed but at work I should start to play immediately just like before the holidays. You know how it feels if you haven’t done gym training for a while and then make a really hard training. Your muscles get all tired and hurting the next day. There should be time to play little bit and then give a break and add the amount of playing slowly. At work it is not usually possible. I also wouldn’t know the program so I would try to learn everything at once and that causes me a lot of stress every time. I feel I need to get to know the pieces slowly and find out what are the sections I need to practice more. And if I try to stuff it all in my mind I won’t remember it very well. It is just too much. My brain needs the rest and “earworming” for learning. Also if I get stressed out because there is too little time to practice, it will slow down my learning even more.

So I made a plan for my holiday playing. I would use about one hour every day and concentrate on one piece at the time. Well, my plan didn’t quite fulfill, but it was supposed to be not a very strict plan as well as our other holiday plans. We spent two days travelling to our destination and back and those days I didn’t play. Third day I might have played even two hours and used more time to one piece than I thought I would. And played the same piece next day. Then there was one day we spent some time with me relatives and it took more time we planned and I decided it was too late to start practicing. But anyway I played and learned and felt like I could keep some touch with playing so it was easier to get back to work. Yet I had enough time for skiing and enjoying the magic of Lapland too.

Hopefully I will get that time for the VoiceWell treatment soon!
I wish you all stress free days!

Musician’s Short Guide to Traveling in the Bus

This weekend I’m on the road. We have quite many trips per year with the Finnish Navy Band and almost always we travel by our bus. It is in a way pretty smart. I just have to know when is our departure time, but still if anything should happen I can call to let people know if I’m for example coming late. And we are able to travel wherever there is a road. Someone is doing a lot of work to plan it everything ready for us and we just have to follow the plan. During the past few years I have found my own way to do traveling smoothly and here are my tips for all musicians.

I always prefer to take as little luggage with me as possible. That is easier in leisure trips than in working trips. But my goal is always one bag only. The best is to think about how can you carry everything at once. Backpacks and over shoulder bags leave your hands free for opening the doors.

You also must consider which things to bring with you on the coach and which items can travel in the luggage compartment and divide them in separate bags. Even if you didn’t need some hygiene products during the drive it might be wiser to take them with you since during the winter it might be too cold for some cosmetics and too hot during the summer. We usually stay in the hotels so there is no need for a towel. This time we stayed only one night so I could fit all my personal items in one large backpack.

Instrument and accessories
For the working trips I need to bring my instrument with me. At the moment I usually need only my B flat clarinet. I have few different kind of cases but I prefer two of them. One is with a shoulder strap and other one is a small hard case. The small case is possible to fit inside a bigger bag with other things. Because wooden instruments are sensitive with temperature changes I always keep the clarinet in the passenger department and take it with me in the room for the nights. It depends a lot about the work how many accessories I need but usually they won’t take too much space with my personal stuff. Sometimes we need to bring also the note stand and my bigger reed case doesn’t fit inside the clarinet case. Of course you have to take care of your sheet music material too.

Uniform/Performing clothes
I’m not the huge fan of suit bags but sometimes it’s handy. Usually if I take it with me I will pack my other clothes or stuff in the bag as well. But most of the times I just pack my uniform with other clothes in my personal bag. The material of the uniform is in this way really good because it doesn’t get wrinkled very easily. My experience is that you can pack also most of the dresses in a loose roll for the traveling and then let it hang for a while. This time I took one cloth hanger and keep my uniform jacket hanging in the bus. It also provides a good shade from the bright winter sun so I can still see what I am writing on my laptop.

Food and water
I always have a water bottle with me or buy one on the road. It’s good to take a look of the travel plan if it’s possible and plan when there is a break for eating. Few years ago I started to follow the rule of eating every 3 to 4 hours and my life got a lot better. It meant that I also quit snacking between meals or if I know there is over 4 hours between the meals, I will eat a small healthy snack like yogurt or a fruit to keep the hunger away just little bit longer. Okay sometimes it is difficult to eat all healthy during the trips and I admit, sometimes I also have sweets or chocolate but it is fine when it doesn’t happen every week. I plan my meals for the day when I now the timetables. If we leave, let say, after midday I will usually eat a proper lunch before the trip begins. If we have really early start it might be smarter to eat breakfast in the bus. Cooler bags are great to store the food for hours and the overhead compartment in our bus stays quite cool all times. We also have a microwave oven so it is possible to get a warm meal as well.

We don’t have a toilet in our bus and that is one reason I sometimes bring the breakfast with me. I love to drink tea and we don’t stop every hour so I have to be ready to hold for at least two hours. Yeah, this is not always very convenient. But it is part of the traveling and planning.

Try to make the traveling as fun for you as possible. Watch movies, listen to music, play games or read books. I also brought my laptop with me so I can write this blog and emails. For me the time goes a lot faster if I have something to focus on. Of course if you suffer from travel sickness you need to keep your eyes on the road but you can probably listen to music or even audio books. I try to think that this time I spent on the road is also time to relax and do nothing or do the things you have in your to-do list but you feel like you can’t just waste hours for them at home. For example I still didn’t update the list of all concerts in my Performances-page since August… I might do it later today.

At some point of the trip you might feel very tired and of course you can just sleep and rest. To make it more comfortable you can create a nest for you. Use your jacket as a blanket and any sorts of pillows are good. I also have ear plugs or I will listen to music with my Bluetooth headphones. Occasionally also eye masks are useful. If you are lucky enough you will have two seats just for you to make it easier to change your sitting position. Sometimes we have to sit together with someone but it can be fun too if you a very social.

I hope you will find some of these tips useful or get some ideas to improve your traveling.

Bon voyage!

Wrapping up the year 2018

This year is soon coming to it’s end and I think now is the perfect time to go through what I have been doing. Of course I have been blogging all year but there are also moments I didn’t write down yet.

The beginning year was difficult professionally. Due to the education that is part of my job, I didn’t have much time to play the clarinet. I think it shows also in my texts. I have had more thoughts about being a musician than stories of what I have been doing.

In May I got back to work and playing. Summer was quite busy with work but also during the holidays I was preparing for the concert I was organizing in August. I have made a decision to try to make at least one musical project outside of my work every year and this concert was that for this year. I already have some ideas for the coming year, but we’ll see what the new year will give.

After the concert in August with the Estonian music we had two big concerts in the Navy Band in September. In the first concert I was playing the first clarinet part and I was enjoying it a lot. Who wouldn’t be thrilled to play little solos?

In October I continued my education but this time the focus was on the instrument so I really got to play and plan what I want to do. I was lucky to get also few personal lessons with my instrument. For a long time I haven’t been this motivated with the playing. I prepared for a small concert with other participants of the course. But I also decided to take a part in the audition. I wrote about my preparation for the audition in November post.

Our course included also improvising lessons. I was a bit nervous in advance but the teacher had confronted so many nervous classical music students that he knew how to break the ice. I learned that for sure I can improvise because it is not what I was assuming it to be. It is not composing or creating something that no one has ever done before. It is putting together small pieces and variations. Often it is based on playing licks that players have practiced well before. So why are we nervous? Because we think we don’t come up with anything or the second reason is to play something “incorrect”. What we consider incorrect notes are mostly creating dissonance with the harmony. So we were actually having fun with that. If you keep playing the dissonance longer, it loses it’s power as an error and becomes just a contrast. It can also be a musical joke. We got good tools for improvising in two days and I was amazed of the solos I could make in our final jam session. I was also enjoying the playing a lot. I definitely felt like I want to do this more.

This period reminded me of my time as a student. It is great to have a possibility to plan everything you want to do. After that coming back to work and straight to a concert project in Sweden was a stressful experience. I have learned that when you have time to plan everything and practice enough it is less stressful to do my job. However, it seems to be for most of the time just chaos and busy timetables with not enough time to get to know your own parts. It feels bad to know that you are not able to learn the pieces with the given time and show that you have the skills. But I hope people understand that it is not my fault. Of course I try to play always as well as I can. The project with the Swedish Navy Band was anyway a nice experience with lots of new people.

December is always a busy month with many events. I’m not the biggest fan of Christmas but Christmas concerts are also part of the job. And of course I was sad to miss the famous concert of the year on 24th of December being ill at home. Anyway, there was one project in December that was maybe the best thing in the all year. Even for this concert I had very little time to prepare but luckily the program wasn’t too difficult. We played for Finland’s Independence Day Concert on 6th of December. The Navy Band played with the wind instrument players and percussionists of Turku Philharmonic Orchestra. And also one double bass player! It was so pleasant to play with this combination and also I got my first and perhaps the last experience of the legendary Leif Segerstam. He was conducting us and I just felt something different that I don’t remember for so long time. It felt great to play. Music was alive. So maybe that is why I keep doing this. To find those rare lovely moments with music.

screenshot form the live stream of the concert

I have no clue or expectations for the coming year 2019 but I wish lots of great moments with everyone!

72 keikkaa / 72 gigs

Vihdoin sain päivitettyä menneet keikat. Samalla päätin laskea kuluvan vuoden keikat ja konsertit ja tällä hetkellä on tehty 71. Vielä on yksi jäljellä sunnuntaina jouluaattona. Sitä on mahdollista seurata myös TV:stä.

Tuntuu hyvältä saada vuosi päätökseen, mutta samalla odottaa taas erilaiset ajat. Aloitan työntekijöiden kurssin tammikuussa, joten muusikko palaa armeijaan. Se tarkoittaa myös, että ensi vuoden alun osalta kaikki Laivaston soittokunnan esiintymiset jäävät minulta tekemättä.

Toivottavasti kuitenkin ehdin soittaa itsekseni edes jonkin verran. Mielessä on taas uusia projekteja, joita toivottavasti ensi vuoden aikana pääsisi toteuttamaan.

Lopuksi kuva Joulurauhan julistuksesta 50-60-luvuilta. Bongasin kuvan Turun keskustan American Dinerin seinältä. Hieman eriltä näyttää nykyään. (Koko kuva lopussa.)



Zoom of a photo by Hans Othman/Turun museokeskus


Finally I updated my past performances. This year I have done 71 gigs and one more is going to be on Sunday 24th of December. It is possible to see that gig via Finnish TV and in the Internet (Yle Areena).

It’s pretty good feeling that soon we will wrap up this year. However, it also means a new period in my life. I will begin a course that means “going back to the army”. Because of that I won’t be playing in the Finnish Navy Band performances in the beginning of the year.

I hope I have some time to use for playing anyway. I have some ideas that would be great to organize next year.

At the end a picture from Declaration of Christmas Peace in Finland from 50’s or 60’s. I saw the picture on the wall of “American Diner” restaurant in the Turku city center.



Photo taken from a photo by Hans Othman /Turun museokeskus


So, Are You Going to any Festivals this Summer? Menetkö festareille tänä kesänä?

Edited: Suomenkielinen versio alla (yleisön pyynnöstä).

Turku, the city where I live, is welcoming this weekend thousands of people to Ruisrock, one of the biggest music festivals in Finland. However, I am just heading away from Turku to Vaasa to celebrate the Anniversary of the Finnish Navy.

The summer is time for many festivals and events all around Finland. Tickets are sold out to the most popular ones already before summer. I just began a three-week working period with the Finnish Navy Band and we are also having many concerts in many cities. I will even get to play music from my early teenage years: Spice Girls!

I get this question a lot from my friends: Are you planning to go to any festivals? And for many summers I have told them: No, I’m not. I have other plans.

When I was younger I somewhat envied my friends, who were going to festivals. During my study years, summers meant working in summer jobs or attending music courses and master classes. It’s kind of the whole different culture and again part of my identity between a classical musician and a rock girl. At the end, it was always more important to practice for my future profession.

Hard work pays off. Now I am proudly working as an artist. Most of the times I have a concert to play just when there would be some interesting artist performing. Because I couldn’t foretell my schedule for this working period I didn’t even pay that much attention of the program of the festivals. Of course, I believe that I will have a chance to go to some festivals if I really want. If not this summer then next time. Anyway, I’ve always liked a bit smaller festivals with free entry or inexpensive tickets.

One big event in Turku this summer is Tall Ship Races. It’s luring a lot of audience and I’m excited to perform in the opening concert for the event. At least then I can say: Yes, I was there. If anyone asks 😉


photo by Juho Tuominen

Upcoming performances / Tulevat esiintymiset

8.7. Vaasa

10.7. Helsinki

13.7. Turku

14.7. Helsinki

20.-21.7. Turku

23.8. Vaasa

25.8. Tammisaari

26.8. Turku


Nykyinen kotikaupunkini Turku toivottaa tervetulleeksi tuhansia ihmisiä tänä viikonloppuna Ruisrockiin, yhteen Suomen suurimmista festareista. Minä kuitenkin suuntaan pois Turusta kohti Vaasaa juhlimaan Merivoimien vuosipäivää.

Kesällä järjestetään paljon festivaaleja ja muita tapahtumia ympäri Suomea. Usein liput suosituimpiin tapahtumiin myydään loppuun jo ennen kesää. Meillä Laivaston soittokunnassa alkoi juuri kolmen viikon työperiodi, jonka aikana esiinnymme monissa eri kaupungeissa. Pääsen myös soittamaan musiikkia varhaisilta teinivuosiltani: Spice Girlsiä!

Ystävät kysyvät joka kesä, olenko menossa johonkin festareille. Useana kesänä olen vastannut kieltävästi. Minulla on ollut jo muita suunnitelmia.

Nuorempana kadehdin hieman kavereitani, jotka pääsivät käymään festareilla. Omat kesät kuluivat kesätöissä siivoten ja rahat musiikkileireillä tai mestarikursseilla. Ne ovat tärkeä osa musiikinopiskelijoiden kesäaikaa ja opiskelijaelämää. Vaikka välillä rokkiminäni olisi kaivannut festareille, niin klasariminäni valitsi harjoittelun tulevaan ammattiini.

Nyt voinkin todeta, että se kannatti, ja olen päässyt työskentelemään muusikkona. Samalla huomaan, että olen itse usein keikalla juuri samaan aikaan kuin tarjolla olisi kiinnostavia artisteja ja tapahtumia. Koska kesän työaikatauluja oli vaikea ennustaa etukäteen, en edes kiinnittänyt aktiivisesti huomiota tulevan kesän artistitarjontaan. Uskon kuitenkin, että pääsen festareille, jos haluan. Jos en tänä vuonna niin ehkä ensi kerralla. Muutenkin olen aina pitänyt enemmän pienemmistä festareista tai ilmaistapahtumista.

Yksi tämän vuoden suurimmista kesätapahtumista Turussa on Tall Ship Races. Se houkuttelee paljon yleisöä kaupunkiin ja olen innoissani päästessäni soittamaan avajaiskonserttiin. Ainakin se tulee varmasti koettua Turun tapahtumista tänä kesänä, jos ei muuta 😉