Category Archives: Musician in the Army

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.)



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


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.


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.


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!


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.


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.