Category Archives: Performance

Kantaatti/ Cantata Leivon laulu

English version below.

Tänään alkoi elokuu ja vielä on kesälomaa jäljellä. Muusikoiden kesken on hyvin paljon vaihtelua. Toiset eivät pidä yhtään soittamatonta päivää loma-aikana ja toiset taas pitävät totaalilomaa soittamisesta. Itse nautin lomalla myös soittovapaista päivistä ja mielestäni on tärkeääkin antaa hieman kropan ja pään levätä. Sen jälkeen soittaminen taas tuntuu mukavalta, vaikka lievää alkukankeutta olisikin.

Tänä kesänä tartuin tarjoukseen päästä soittamaan kollegani Matti Laihon uutta teosta. Toivoin vain, että materiaali ei olisi niin hankalaa, että sen harjoitteluun menisi monta lomapäivää. Matti piti lupauksensa ja tuloksena on erittäin miellyttävää kesäsoitettavaa.

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photo by Heli Palomaa

Uusi teos on Kantaatti Leivon laulu. Laiho sävelsi musiikin Rauni Uolevi Mäkelän runoihin ja teksteihin. Teos käsittelee 100-vuotisen Suomen vaiheita. Viikonlopun esitykset toteutetaan Enkelipuistossa.

Olen oppinut itsestäni sen verran, että vaikka harjoitusaikaa olisi kuinka paljon, niin eniten minua motivoi esiintyminen. Se oli yksi syy lähteä mukaan. Muuten koko loma olisi voinut helposti vierähtää soittamatta, mikäli minulla ei olisi ollut mitään selkeää tavoitetta soittamisen suhteen.

Tärkeää on myös keskittyä siihen, miten harjoittelee tehokkaasti uuden teoksen. Itse olen havainnut hyväksi kappaleen kuuntelemisen ja mikäli mahdollista, mukana soittamisen. Tämän teoksen yhteydessä saimme midiraidat nuottien mukana. Silmäilin ensin nuotit läpi ja laitoin kuulokkeet korville ja raidat soimaan ja soitin mukana. Kerralla sain kokonaiskuvan siitä, mikä oman stemmani funktio on teoksessa.

Teknisemmät kohdat vaativat erikseen harjoitusta ja tähän olen löytänyt itselleni tehokkaan keinon, jota olen myös käyttänyt opettaessani klarinettioppilaita. Oppimisessa on pitkälti kyse siitä, että muisti pelaa. Keskittymiskyky on rajallinen, joten harjoitellessa täytyy pitää taukoja 10-20 minuutin välein, jolloin ajatus voi levähtää.

Olen huomannut, että monimutkaisten osioiden alut oppii yleensä hyvin, mutta keskellä saattaa olla jokin kohta, mistä ei meinaa päästä yli. Joka kerta, kun toistaa jonkin kohdan, se jää muistiin niin korvaan kuin sormiin. Siksi alku jää helposti mieleen, mutta vaarana on myös, että oppii keskeltä vaikean kohdan väärin. Parempi on opetella alusta asti kaikki oikein. Siksi olen kehittänyt tavan opetella vaikeimmat kohdat lopusta alkuun.

Jaan jakson pienempiin osiin, esimerkiksi yhden iskun palasiin. Ensimmäisenä harjoittelen viimeisen hitaasti ja lisään tempoa tavoitteeseen asti vähitellen. Sen jälkeen harjoittelen toiseksi viimeisen osan ja kun se toimii, lisään sen viimeiseen. Näin ne yhdistyvät. Aina kun lisään uutta, se tuleekin osion alkuun ja tuntuu, että siihen on enemmän kapasiteettia keskittyä. Tämän jälkeen toistuu jo opittu eli korva ja sormet tietävät mihin ollaan menossa.

Alkuun tämä tuntui työläältä ja hitaalta, mutta lopulta tämä on itselleni ollut kaikkein nopein tapa opetella teknisiä kohtia. Lisäksi olen huomannut, että koska soittaessa klarinettia on käytössä myös hengitys, yksi haasteista on ilman loppuminen. Aina kun ilma alkaa olla vähissä, virheet lisääntyvät. Sen takia hitaasti harjoitellessa tulee lisätä paljon hengityspaikkoja ja vähitellen karsia niitä tempon nopeutuessa.

Toivon, että näistä vinkeistä olisi jollekin hyötyä.

Tervetuloa Pöytyälle Enkelipuistoon

Kenraaliharjoitus 4.8. klo 18
Ensi-ilta 5.8. klo 18
Esitys 6.8. klo 16

It’s August and I still have summer holidays left. There is variation between musicians. Some will never have a day without playing and others will have totally playfree holidays. I think it is important to enjoy also free days with other activities and let the mind and body rest from playing. After a little holiday from playing it is lovely to get back to practicing with my instrument even the beginning might be a bit rusty.

This summer I decided to take a part with the premiere of my colleague Matti Laiho’s new piece. I only had one wish for the composer; my part shoudln’t be too difficult so I didn’t have to spend all my holidays learning it and he kept this promise. The new cantata is very nice summer music.

2017-07-30 12.28.09

photo by Heli Palomaa

The cantata is called Leivon laulu and it is composed for poets and texts of Rauni Uolevi Mäkelä. The theme is history of Finland that has this year 100 years of Independent celebration. Performances will be held in Enkelipuisto (Angel Park).

I have learned about myself that even I had any time available for practicing the biggest motivation comes from performing. That was one reason to do this during my holidays. Otherwise I could just skip playing if I didn’t have any clear goals.

It is important to focus on how to practice new works effectively. I have noticed that it is good to listen to pieces and if it’s possible to play with the recording. With this cantata we got also midi tracks with sheet music. I glanced the pages and then had my headphones in my ears and played with midi tracks. This way I got right away the idea of how my part is working with others.

Technical sections need more practicing separately from the whole piece. I’ve found myself one efficient way and I have used it also when teaching my clarinet students. In my opinion, the memory is one of the most imporant keywords when it comes to learning. There is a limit for how long we can be concentrated for one thing at a time and that’s why it’s important to have breaks every 10 to 20 minutes so your mind can take a rest.

As I see it, it is easier to learn the beginnings of difficult passages but usually there is one tricky spot that goes wrong all the time. Repetition helps to get the music in ear and in fingers and that’s why if you practice from beginning until the difficult place and play it wrong, you will actually learn how to play it wrong. It’s better to be careful and learn right way in the first place. That’s why I find it better to begin from the last bit of the passage and move gradually in reverse order.

I divided the passage in smaller sections, for example in one beat bits. First I practice the last one slowly and add tempo until I reach the right tempo. After that I learn one section before and when it’s fine, I add them together with the last one. So, anytime there is something new, it is in the beginning and after that I repeat the end that is already in memory and my ear and fingers tell me where to go.

At first it felt a bit hard work and slow but at the end I think it’s a lot faster way to learn difficult technical sections right. In addition, the clarinet is wind instrument, so breathing is one challenge. I have noticed that when I start to run out of air I will make more mistakes. That’s why it’s important to make additional breathing places when practicing slwoly and then skip them when the tempo is getting up.

I hope this would be helpful for some one.

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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 😉

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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 😉

Dancing

In February I wrote about my cultural confessions. I talked about different art forms but I left dancing out on purpose. Already then I had the idea of this post.

Just this weekend I travelled to Oulu where I lived in from summer 2013 to summer 2015. My friend Mimmi had a big birthday party and the theme was dancing. We have known each other for 20 years now and all that time Mimmi has always wanted to dance. Now she works as a dancing teacher. She asked everyone to create their own dancing performance and I was really excited.

I have only danced in disco and at home and never took any dancing lessons. So I’m not a dancer myself. But I’ve always liked it and I enjoy watching professional dancers dancing.

There are so many different dancing styles and techniques. I don’t know much about them but I think the main thing is to use your body for a movement with music.
Dancing kind of gives one more dimension for music to express yourself. I think in dancing performance culture the coolest thing is always to get very visual. There has to be outfits and lights. Lots of make up and some glitter and shimmer. Sometimes these elements could boost a musical performance as well.

I prepared my own performance for Mimmi. I wanted to compose my own music too. This time the accordion was the right choice of instrument. I wanted to keep it very minimalistic and modern since you can just express the movement and improvise more.

My show was partly serious but also humorous. People took it quite well. One dancer told me that I’m one of them now. It was really cool. I told about my choice of clothing. Tight black outfit and bare feet, hair tied up high and before the show I was wearing the wool socks and a warm sweater. I told that this was my image of dancers (students) as I saw them when I was studying in Oulu.

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A photo by Heli Palomaa

I would like to do some projects with dancers. Some of the projects has been also dancers but usually musicians just play and dancers dance and the director of the project takes care of these things. It would be more interesting to create something together with a dancer.

I wish everyone to enjoy and express themselves with their body dancing!

DIY Own Musical Parts

I’ve seen quite many do-it-yourself posts recently so I came up with an idea to do one myself.

It’s about the musical parts, the note material that you play in the orchestra. Sometimes happens that you have to do some creative changes with your part. The most common thing is that there is a difficult page turning so you just add an extra copy of the next page.

Sometimes the conductor asks you to play something that is written for some other instrument because there is no player for that instrument. For example, in this concert period I am playing the bass clarinet. So I was asked to play second bassoon part in one short section.

So this is very easy and everyone can do this. There is not only one right way to do it but you can use all your own creativity. Next I will go step by step how I created this addition to my bass clarinet part.

All you need is paper, scissors, clear tape and maybe some black fine point permanent marker. Access to copying machine is also good.

So this time I got the bassoon part. I don’t’ feel very comfortable to read bass clef and transpose music while playing and I wanted to transpose it and write the notes out in Bb. First I took a copy of the part I was going to add to name the notes to make it a little bit easier. Then I had to take a copy of my parts next page since this addition made my page turning impossible.

I also had blank musical staff paper. You can get it ready or do it also yourself but then you need a ruler. So I would write the transposed notes by hands on the blank paper and cut the paper to right size. Some might prefer to write it with notation softwares like MuseScore. It even might transpose automatically. Then you just need a printer to print out your DIY part. But I felt this was so short section so I could write it by hand.

The next step was to cut the extra page of my part until the brake where I could turn the page. And then I added this to the handwritten section with the clear tape. And finally I had to add some extra paper under these two pieces to make it more even shape to be able to tape it together with the my original bass clarinet part.

Actually you don’t want to tape it to the original part. And I happened to  have already a copy of the original since the layout of my part was wrong. The page numbers were in the inner corner of the page so also the page turnings were not during the pauses but always in the most difficult places. So I had to make a new booklet with the opposite layout.

I’m quite happy with the result and was already able to play it in the rehearsal.

photo by Heli Palomaa

The concert where I will use my DIY part will be on 11.4. So welcome to listen to the Finnish Navy Band in Turku. Really interesting program for wind orchestra.

Also next Saturday I will play the bass clarinet in a Viola concert. It’s a contemporary piece for Viola and small ensemble. There is a free entry in Sigyn hall.

Bremen, the city of musicians? Bremen- Die Stadt von Musikanten?

So here we are in the city of Bremen. They invited us to play in Musikschau der Nationen, Music Show of the Nations. I was talking with our lovely guide, Doerte, and she told me what this show means for her. This year is the last time they organise this event and they have held it already for 53 years every year. It is a very famous show all around the area around Bremen. People are sad that it is ending. Some people wanted to be sure to get the tickets for the last time and bought them already one year ago. But for sure in the future there will be some other kind of musical events instead of Musikschau.

As I saw the logo in the pin I suddenly remembered a story from my childhood. It was the story about the city musicians of Bremen. I wanted to refresh my memory and searched the episode of Tao Tao in Youtube. The story tells about four animals that leave their homes for better life and decide to travel to Bremen to become town musicians. Making music brings together and builds new friendships. As Doerte said, is the best thing about the Musikschau to meet people all around the world. Funny detail was that actually the animals didn’t even get to Bremen because they found a cabin in the forest where they liked to stay.

So, I don’t know if Bremen is the city for musicians, but at least for this weekend the city is full of musicians from all around the world.

photo by Heli Palomaa

photo by Heli Palomaa

Also hier sind wir, in Bremen. Wir waren hier eingeladen, in der Musikschau der Nationen zu spielen. I habe mit unserer lieber betreuerin, Doerte, gesprochen, und sie hat erzählt, was die Musikschau für sie bedeutet. Dieses Jahr wird die Musikschau zum letzten Mal organisiert und es macht alle ein bisschen traurig. Für 53 Jahr ist die Musikschau jedes Jahr organisiert. Es ist schon sehr berühmte Veranstaltung in der Nähe von Bremen. Und jemand hat schon letztes Jahr die Eintrittskarten aufgekauft. In Zukunft gibt es sicherlich andere musikalische Veranstaltungen in Bremen.

Also bin ich nicht sicher, ob Bremen die Stadt von Musikanten ist, aber am wenigsten ist die Stadt für diese Wochenende voll von Musikanten.

20 years

It was autumn 1996 when I first attended clarinet lessons in Kokkola. I had began 3rd grade in a music class as we call it in Finland. Everyone had to choose one instrument. I had played the piano a bit already and wanted to continue with it. In a concert we had to choose one instrument from every category of instruments. I think I chose the violin from strings and the tuba from brass. I remember entering a room where a man wanted to check my fingers and teeth. After that I got the news: I was going to start playing the clarinet. I was a bit sad while I didn’t get the piano. Anyway I kept on going to lessons even though I was not totally enthusiastic. I even wanted to quit for few times but my mom pushed me to continue.

Other classmates gave up playing the instruments and by the time we began the upper secondary school we were only few who still were playing. I got a new teacher. And I had to begin to plan what I would want to study after school. I thought I would give up playing and find some “normal” profession. I enjoyed mathematics and got quite good grades in all subjects. But then the new clarinet teacher made me enjoy the playing as well and I realized that I had used 10 years for that already. What would I do without the music?

I decided to apply for professional studies of music. I also applied to study chemistry just in case. For the first time in my life I began to practice clarinet playing really seriously. I was quite sure that if I didn’t get in anywhere I would sell my instruments and forget about it. I wanted to study in Tampere and I got in. I decided to see how far I am able to get. After graduating from Tampere as a Bachelor of Culture and Arts, Tallinn as a Master of Arts and from Oulu as a pedagogue and now working as a musician I can finally say that I am a musician.

It took my quite a long time to begin to think myself as a musician. I’ve had a dream to play in a rock music band since I was a teenager. At some point I thought I’m too rock to be classical but too classical to be rock. Now I just want to be open to all kind of music. Maybe I will still find some band to play in the bass or sing.

by Outi Palomaa

by Outi Palomaa

Even after these 20 years have passed it is exciting to attend lessons. I guess it has to be that we can always become better players and musicians. I had a great opportunity to play with a clarinetist Tapio Liukkonen from Turku Philharmonic Orchestra in October. We prepared Poulenc’s Sonata for clarinet and piano that I am performing this week 3 times with a lovely pianist Pasi Helin.

Hopefully there will be another 20 years of playing!

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!