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Playing Outdoors

SAhonen-4.6.2016-Suomen Joutsen-1696

photo by Puolustusvoimat / Ahonen

Summer is coming and finally summery weather is reaching Finland too. We are used to play outside all around the year, but during the summer seasons the outdoor gigs are even more frequent. I think that is one extreme part of our job but sometimes it brings a nice change too.

Playing outside requires to take some details in consideration. Wooden instruments are sensitive for temperature changes and they crack more easily than instruments made out of metal or plastic. At work we use two different instruments, one for inside concert use and one for playing outside gigs. There is also a risk of the rain. Usually the wood winds can skip the concert if it’s raining, but last summer I experienced couple of rainy gigs. So the outdoor instruments are not the best one.

I’m using my old mouthpiece with a synthetic reed and this combination produces quite loud sound. I often have a feeling that the sound is disappearing in the air if there is no walls to project it back so loud sound is better against strong brass. Also we are walking sometimes while playing outside, so you might brake the mouthpiece easily if it hits you teeth for example.

We usually can’t decide which clothes we want to wear outside because we have the uniforms. Depending on the weather it’s either too cold or too hot to play. For me around 20 plus degrees Celsius is the most convenient temperature, as it’s almost the same as inside. Last summer I began to feel dizzy when it was really warm and sunny and had to quit playing. And during the winter I was freezing many times but also my wrist began to hurt because of the cold and over-using it. After having these wrist problems I decided to learn to play with leather gloves. It’s actually not that difficult if you have really thin and tight  gloves. My only problem is my short little finger that doesn’t fill the glove to the end. I also learned to play a bit with a Freewing. It’s still a bit new for me but it helps a bit to take away to pressure from my right thumb and wrist.

When playing outside you either use marching stand attached to your instrument or if you have a regular music stand you will also need clothespins for example to hold your notes on the stand. There always will be some wind… With the marching stand you have to make smaller size notes (A5) so sometimes it’s difficult to read if the print is very small. And the sun might shine too bright and we can’t use the sunglasses with the parade uniform. Sometimes some bugs get a bit too interested of the players and cause some difficulties to focus. When walking, the notes will also move so for me the best is to learn the pieces by heart so you can follow where you have to go. But that of course needs more time and practice.

I think this pretty much covers all about playing outdoors. All you need to know is when to come and see us playing outside, and it’s easier to follow the concert calendar.

Happy summer!


Farewell! Lebe wohl!

This was the end of the Music Show of the Nations. Thank you and Good Bye!

German clarinettists photo by Puolustusvoimat/Siven

German clarinettists
photo by Puolustusvoimat/Siven

Das ist das Ende der Musikschau der Nationen. Danke schön und auf Wiedersehen!

Russia photo by Ilja Loleit

photo by Ilja Loleit


Music was my first love
And it will be my last.
Music of the future
And music of the past.

To live without my music





Netherlands photo by Annika Toivonen

photo by Annika Toivonen

Would be impossible to do.
In this world of troubles,
My music pulls me through.

Songwriter Carole King



USA photo by Annika Toivonen

Mexico photo by Puolustusvoimat/Siven

photo by Puolustusvoimat/Siven


Auf Wiedersehen, auf Wiedersehen,
Bleib nicht so lange fort
Denn ohne dich wärs halb so schön,
Darauf hast du mein Wort.

Auf Wiedersehen, auf Wiedersehen,
Das eine glaube mir:
Nachher wird es nochmal so schön,
Das Wiedersehen mit dir.

Weil wir uns so gut verstehen,

Portugal photo by Puolustusvoimat/Siven

photo by Puolustusvoimat/Siven

Hab ich dich gar zu gern bei mir.
Leider mußt du schon gehen,
Ein Wort zum Abschied sag ich dir:

Auf Wiedersehen, auf Wiedersehen,
Bleib nicht so lange fort
Denn ohne dich wärs halb so schön,
Darauf hast du mein Wort.


France photo by Puolustusvoimat/Siven

photo by Puolustusvoimat/Siven

Work, work, work

It’s already April and time for a spring update.

I just went through all site and made some updates. The biggest change is that I began working in the Finnish Navy Band. We already had one big concert with Robert Ambrose as a conductor and now we are practising for Oslo Military Tattoo 2016 in May. The figure marching is really interesting and challenging!

There will be many performances for this spring and all the information of the public concerts is possible to find in the Navy Band’s concert calender.

This week I also got some extra work in Sigyn sinfonietta, the symphony orchestra of Turku university of applied sciences. In the program there is Mozart’s clarinet concerto and actually that was the reason I was first thinking just to go and listen to the concert. Instead I will be playing there myself in Dvorak’s 8th symphony and El Amor Brujo by Manuel de Falla. Welcome to the concert on Sunday the 17th of April in Sigyn hall at 18.00.


From Green to Blue

During this week everything has changed.

Basic training period ended. Now I should have basic skills of a soldier. These 8 weeks were kind of long but still fast.

The first big change was of course moving to the other campus. It is great to be so much closer to my home. Because of moving many other things also happened. The twelve girls’ group divided. Now we are only five who moved. We are still in the same room but it will also change after other girls begin their education on the ships.

The campus is a lot smaller than we used to. But I like it. Also the color of the clothes changed finally. Yeah, I think blue suits me better in this case.

The first week has been about learning the new way to live. Although we live in the same room with girls we are not in the same team and we go with our own groups. And now comes the biggest and the best change for me: I’m not just one soldier but they began to call me as a musician or a player right away. So now I begin to hold my instrument more than the rifle. It is actually interesting that they gave me one here as well.

I also got to know the other musicians. They are nice and it’s a bit sad that they will end their military service in two weeks. With them I fast learned how the things are. We have to get to the city centre almost every morning to practice. It means we have to wear the “holiday outfit” every time. It is like holiday everyday! Well, not really. These are not very practical clothes for doing some of normal day stuff like making the bed in the morning.

We also have more freedom but also responsobility comes with that. I still have to remember how to behave and so on even if I might get to go to eat alone. Next week is the first trip with the band. I won’t play in the Tattoo show 2015 but I will be there. I already got my share of practicing the figure marching for one player was away from the rehearsals. I Iiked it a lot and felt that I could learn fast. After this show I will also get my place to play in the band. So some parts of my day I have spent alone in the practicing room to get to know the materials. It feels quite a lot like when I was a student. Although it now feels so nice I believe I wouldn’t appreciate it that much if I didn’t do the basic training period. And there should be more of that training coming in the future.


Summer Music Course Puhallus

Last few weeks have been busy in my life. I have moved to another city and travelled to Tampere and Turku and back to Oulu and stopped in Kokkola couple of times. In between we were organizing a summer music course called Puhallus (eng. blowing) in the same music school that I have been teaching in Oulu.

I have participated myself in many music courses and camps and master classes. I have also been tutor in one music camps taking care of younger students. But this time I was planning and teaching in the course. At some point I was getting quite frustrated. The idea of organizing the course wasn’t mine. I was asked to come to teach. But soon it was clear that we were also planning the course all together from the beginning. First we were five teachers but then one couldn’t continue so we were only four left. I was a bit sceptical if the music course will even happen at all but at some point I realized that I had 5 students (eventually one of them cancelled but anyway four was enough) myself and couldn’t even take more. Then I decided to take a part with the course anyway even if I didn’t really get paid properly for my work but to get a new experience and be part of something new. And that was totally worth it!

All of us, the teachers, gave our own effort for the course. I think the biggest thing was to plan the timetables for everyone. Since we didn’t have anyone else expect us four, we couldn’t all be teaching lessons with only one student at the same time. Then there would be over ten students without anyone to take care of them and give something to do. However, we succeeded to create functioning timetable and it even stayed almost the same thorough the whole week.

On Monday, just before the course began, we were all pretty nervous. Will the students come and how is it going to be for them? Have we forgot something? But everyone found their way there and we even got two more students just on the first day. I think everyone came sharing the same interest for learning music. Despite the age (from 8 years to 73) and despite how many years (0 to 10) they had played music before or despite the nationality (Finnish, Chinese, Belgian, Indian) they seemed to get along. And I believe that was the magic of our course. We were together around 20 people. So everyone got to know each other pretty fast. And the students shared their knowledge with each other.

I actually knew all my students beforehand. That was a benefit because it was really easy for me to plan what to do with my students. I got really excited about putting together a clarinet quartet. I even found a bass clarinet for me to play. I believe also students liked to play together. All in all I got a feeling that all students enjoyed the course. They focused in the music theory exercises and learned how to write music with MuseScore. We also had group lessons for body percussion, common playing and singing moment and getting to know music from all around the world. And of course on the last day everyone got a change to perform themselves.

Let’s see if the next summer will bring a new Puhallus!

Puhallus music course

Puhallus music course

Spring Update

It’s lovely to see more and more sunlight in the North and enjoy skiing with lots of snow. With this wonderful energy it’s good time to take a look to what is coming for this spring.

photo by Heli Palomaa

photo by Heli Palomaa

Just last weekend I spent in Helsinki. Purpose for my trip was to practice with a lovely pianist, Mirva Helske. We are organizing concerts in Kokkola and Oulu. I’m totally excited to play such a great music with a good friend. Also it’s one of my dreams to have my own recital.

On Saturday night there happened to be also concert of the Sibelius Academy symphony orchestra. It was crazy how many familiar people I met! I knew probably half of the players and some of the people who came to listen. There was even one of the previous presidents of Finland, Martti Ahtisaari.

This made me feel that even I never got into Sibelius Academy to study myself, (and the last time I applied it felt as I was never supposed to get in since I couldn’t take a part of the exams due a pretty serious sickness), I’m still inside the music field. I know so many musicians that when they need me, they will contact me. For sure I need to still work and get more contacts but quite many people know that I exist.

Of course the concert itself was also great experience. My first reaction was that I want to be part of the orchestra. I want to have my place there and give myself for the music and the audience. Anyhow at the half of the concert I also realized that those players were still students and that I’m not a student. I mean that somehow I didn’t want to play in this orchestra as a student but I want to play in a professional orchestra. Does it mean that I’m ready? At least it helps me to be sure that I really want to take a part with the audition to Turku Philharmonic Orchestra in April with all my heart. It feels right. And for sure it’s going to feel like everything from terrible mistake to the dream of my life as it always does when there are those 10 minutes ahead of me that can change the course of my whole life.

Also my story in the Oulu city theater will go on for a little bit after the Amadeus. I’ll be playing in few of the performances of the musical “The Addams Family”. I will write the days of my performances closer to the dates.

I love this feeling that everything is in a progress. I’m not even sure where I’m going to live after this spring but as my new 74 years old clarinet student said: Things tend to find a way to solve out just fine. Also all the time I’m learning to respect myself more as a musician.