Category Archives: Musician in the Army

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.
https://soundcloud.com/helipauliina/sets/jam-session-solos

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.
https://soundcloud.com/helipauliina/sets/jam-session-solos

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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.

Packing
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.

Toilet
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.

Activities
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.

Rest
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!

Viro 100 / Estonia 100

Olen seurannut mielenkiinnolla Suomen naapurin ja itselle tärkeän maan Viron itsenäisyyden juhlimista näin Suomen juhlinnan jälkeen. Sain kunnian olla vieraana, kun Turussa juhlittiin 100-vuotista Viroa. Puheet pitivät presidentti Tarja Halonen ja Viron pääministeri Jüri Ratas. Sain myös nauttia musiikista, jota esittivät Iris ja Tauno Saviauk. Maamme-laulua tulee nykyään enemmän soitettua itse, mutta tässä tilaisuudessa lauloin viroksi! Myös kahvitilaisuus oli maistuva.

On erikoinen tunne saapua itsenäisyyttä juhlistavaan juhlaan sen jälkeen, kun on harjoitellut maanpuolustamista metsässä lähes kaksi viikkoa. Kai sille voi antaa suuremman merkityksen ja kokea hieman lähemmin. Toivoa, että oma itsenäinen maa on turvattu niin meillä kuin muuallakin.

Oli ihanaa kuunnella elävää musiikkia pitkästä aikaa. Se houkutteli ja innosti. Nyt vain muut asiat vievät ajan soittamiselta. Olen sentään silloin tällöin päässyt kasaamaan soittimen, mutta useamman päivän tauot eivät tee hyvää toistuvasti. Vielä pari kuukautta.

I have been interested in Estonia’s celebrations of independency. The country reached 100 years as Finland did last year. For me the country is important as I spent there 2 years studying. It was an honor to be invited to celebrate Estonia in Turku. There were two orations by the former Finnish president Tarja Halonen and the prime minister of Estonia Jüri Ratas. I also enjoyed music played by Iris and Tauno Saviauk. I am used to nowadays to play more often than sing myself the Finnish National Hymn. Estonia has the same melody and this time I was singing not in Finnish but in Estonian! Also there were very tasty snacks.

It is a special feeling to participate this kind of celebration of independency after spending almost two weeks in forests learning how to defend my home country. Perhaps I could sense a bigger meaning and it was more real. I can only hope, that my country will keep it’s independency in the future as I hope it for any country.

It was pleasant to hear live music after a long time. It inspired me and lured me to play myself. These days there are other things to do than to play. Luckily I have had few times to spend time with my clarinets but it doesn’t sound that good after many days of breaks repeatedly. Only two more months of this…

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.)

 

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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.

 

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Photo taken from a photo by Hans Othman /Turun museokeskus

 

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.