Category Archives: Musician in the Army

Back in Business

I’ve been away from playing for a short while. I wanted to write about it but I didn’t know what to tell. It hasn’t been my longest break and I didn’t completely quit practicing.

So I was doing some more military training to be qualified for my job. The first period was basic military education for the navy. I learned to do some sea soldier stuff which is in a way cool but on the other hand I wasn’t very good since I have no earlier experience. Also I survived one week in the forests again. If I look it as a musician it was easy for me to study books and do exams but I’ve spent most of the time with my instruments when these young guys have been training their muscles.

This week I began the second period of the education that will happen in the band. And I am excited! On Friday we will have a nice concert with music from the West Side Story among others. I also practiced Poulenc’s clarinet sonata today together with the pianist for the first time. That one I will perform in November in chamber music concerts. If nothing else, the first period of the training reminded me how much I love the playing and music. And I can make a living from it.

There is also one other interesting project emerging. We wanted to create a clarinet quartet here in Turku but now it seems it is going to be a trio. Anyway, we had to think what is it and how it should be. And I realized what was my motivation. In a bigger orchestra there is always the short amount of time to concentrate on one program and everyone is doing their best to handle it. We have had quite complicated programs this year and after some concerts I wished that I would have had more time to practice and get deeper into the music. Also playing alone is just not that much fun as with other people. In a small group it is easier to work things out. So I understood that for me this trio is a possibility to focus on making music that we want and refine the details without any stress to make it ready just yet. Of course we agreed that we would like to perform but I think it will come when we feel like we have created something together. Developing as a musician needs also a bit time and freedom.

edited from a photo by Juho Tuominen

edited from a photo by Juho Tuominen

At the end as a reminder: Check the future coming concerts of the Finnish Navy Band (and also the chamber music evenings) from here!

The Last Days as a Concript

254 days behind. One more ahead.

I am happy that the service is ending. The life in the  barracks have been quite different from the life I was living before the army. It’s is nice to know that finally I can go home and I don’t have to leave again in couple of days. Except for some trips…

It is  difficult to explain how it feels to be here doing the service. I had no idea. So I believe it’s only possible to know if you do it yourself. Anyway, my service has been very different than for the of the most people. I have visited quite many barracks around Finland and played for the last veterans of the wars of Finland. I have also played in many public concerts and had quite a lot contact with the civil life. And soon it will be my job.

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Before the concert selfie photo by Heli Palomaa

During the last days I’ve got a promotion (leading seaman) and I passed the Cooper test. We had concerts both on Saturday and Sunday. Saturday’s concert was a part of “Puhallinpäivät” (Wind Days) in Turku. I met lots of old friends around the Finland.  The concert was great. We had Olli Leppäniemi as a soloist and everyone was thrilled.

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Photo by The Finnish Navy Band

On Sunday we played in the cathedral and in the middle of the event Antti’s clarinet cracked. So I played the first clarinet part from that moment on.

After this I’ve stayed in the barracks slowly packing and giving away the materials.

Sometimes time goes slowly. But it never stops.

Being Part of one famous Finnish Christmas Tradition

I wonder how many times have I watched the Declaration of Christmas Peace in Finland on TV as a child. I never imagined that one day I would be there myself playing. And now life took me here! It is possible for all people around the world to follow it live online at Yle Areena on 24th of December at noon Finnish time.

Days in the army are running fast and I have less than 100 mornings left. December has been maybe even more busy than November with many gigs around the region as you can see on the Performance page. For many smaller events the band is divided in two units to be able to do some events at the same time.

Next week the whole band will get together on Thursday 17th of December for one bigger concert with Christmas Carols in Michael’s Church in Turku. Although I’m not a big fan of Christmas Carols there are some really beautiful arrangements. And this time I will perform with the bass clarinet. Welcome!

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Photo by Livia Schweizer

 

Secondment in the Lapland Military Band

As a musician in the army I don’t have any forest weeks in the plan for now. But this one and half weeks are certainly something else than the usual daily routines. So maybe it would be possible to call it “musician’s camping”. I don’t have a tent but I do have my sleeping bag with me.

In the Lapland Military Band they are kind of short of clarinet players (hint for any unemployed Finnish clarinetists) so they decided to borrow me from Turku. Also two horn players came along from the Navy Band. And to make it little bit more complicated, we had two days of rehearsals in Rovaniemi, now back to Turku for one free day and for Sunday’s gigs and then back for the concert tour with the Lapland’s band. After the tour there is again one Sunday gig close to Turku and after that begins a new period for the next concerts. November goes fast!

As I was preparing to leave for the trip, I changed back to the green uniform. It brought back the memory of summer, although I was heading for the winter land.

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We will spend totally three nights in trains. It was the first time for me to get into a train’s sleeping cabin. Now I got the place in the upper bunk that I didn’t choose in the barracks.

Last night I spent in the barracks in Rovaniemi with the sleeping bag. I had one interesting shower moment with a headlight. In the morning they woke us up for shovelling the snow at 5.30 am. (Well, I kind of skipped that.) And in the rehearsals I discovered that I will sing a higher bass voice in one piece.

It is possible to experience that in live of course. We will have the concerts in Oulu 17.11. Kajaani 18.11 and Rovaniemi 20.11. For more information click here.

Two concerts with the Navy Band will be in Turku 26.11. and in Lohja 27.11. More information here.

One year long job interview

I can hardly imagine any other organization than army that would analyze their employee so carefully – even musicians.

At some point of my service I realized that this is all the time part of my job interview. And it’s going to last all the year. Now I can say that I am one step closer to the job. The audition was held this week and they chose me. So I still have to complete the running test and complete my service before beginning the work.

I have been talking with my fellow musicians and sometimes some people say that they find it so absurd that musicians have to run to get the job. It is not that common, but actually when I begin to think about it more closely it is not just a bad thing.

Cooper test is to measure your condition so it tells you how fit you are. As I have been studying all these years I have become more and more interested about my body. That led me to write my latest thesis (sorry, in Finnish, but the abstract in English) about the body as the most important instrument. In order to be able to work with this field you really should take care of yourself. The working hours are demanding with traveling and the position to hold instruments is many times burdensome for the body. Many musicians suffer from health problems and overuse syndromes that could be partly fixed with certain kind of sports.

photo by Heli Palomaa

photo by Heli Palomaa

So this test it really motivating me and also I want to find this healthy lifestyle to stay fit for many coming years and don’t hurt myself with playing.
Now it’s time to get ready for jogging.

Good health for all musicians!

Standing out

I am used to spot other musicians in cities by their instrument cases. First I see the case and then I try to see if I know the person as well. I don’t know how often people pay attention to musicians normally. Otherwise I am not used to show that I am a musician. But now it’s literally written on my forehead. On the uniform cap it says “Navy Band” and on my sleeves are signs of a treble clef. So it’s made super clear for anyone that I have something to do with music and the army.

photo by Heli Palomaa

photo by Heli Palomaa

For some reason it feels weird. As I wrote before it was a good feeling to finally be noticed as a musician after being just one of the recruits. But now it is somehow like having a note symbols or a clef as a tattoo or a jewellery. In a way corny. For me it shouldn’t be so obvious to be interesting. For example my ring looks completely ordinary until I tell that it is a replica of Buffet Crampon clarinets’ metal ring. Or I wear a screw from my old note stand as a pendant and quite many people come to ask what is it. Or I tried how the harmonic series would fit on my wrist as a tattoo.

The other thing I have been thinking for these days we had concerts with the Finnish Navy Band is my usual preparation for the concerts. I don’t mean the playing but anything that comes after that, the ritual of changing clothes and putting hair and make up. Now I am wearing the same outfit all day long and also for the concerts. My hair has to be tight in the back so there is not many options of how to wear it. Also I thought I wouldn’t miss wearing make up and for the summer I didn’t. But now it would be nice to do the normal make up to look more lively. No one actually told me what is the rule in the band about the make up but I believe it can’t be very strong anyway.

photo by Juho-Pekka Palomaa

photo by Juho-Pekka Palomaa

The winter is coming and I have to admit I really like the winter jacket although now during the sunny day it might feel a bit exaggeration. For the future performances it is wise to check out the concert calender of the Finnish Navy Band. I believe I will play in the most of the concerts.

First Gigs and Back to the Driving School

Now it finally started. I got the first share of playing with the Finnish Navy Band. First gigs were common short events with few  marches. I also didn’t expect to get back to Upinniemi, where I did the basic training period, so soon. But we stayed only couple of hours. After that we came back to Pansio and played also here for the guys who left home yesterday. Among them were other musicians and graphic artists that I got to know during these two weeks. For sure I will miss them. Now I am the only musician here and I believe people heard it and saw it when I got to practice in one class with a glass wall.

The rest of the week will be a bit different. I was quite surprised when I first heard that I will get the license to drive military vehicles. But I’m quite excited to get back to the driving school after 10 years. Anyway it will make it so much easier to move to the city centre with a car everyday where the band is practicing.