About studying the kantele at a later age

In Finland, kids normally have their first touch to the kantele in music playschools, or by latest in the elementary school, thanks to the project that started in the 1980s, “Kantele to school!”. Some kids continue studying in music academies and conservatories, and a few reach the highest level at Universities of Applied Sciences, or the University of the Arts (Sibelius Academy).

What if the kantele entered your life at a later stage? Or perhaps you want to revive your kantele playing like I did? Where can you go and get someone to teach you in Finland? Music academies often have an age limit, but luckily not all. I am going to list some opportunities for those living the capital area of Finland, as I am currently residing there. Hints about other areas in Finland are more than welcome.

Every spring you can apply for the Sibelius academy as a practice student for those Sibelius student who want to complete their pedagogical studies. Occasionally, they may have a need for practice students outside the application period.

Every semester the Sibelius academy offers some open courses on music at low cost, such as folk music ensemble, instrument building workshops, instrument maintenance, music theory, and so forth.  You can enroll for the courses during August. Some courses require a special application procedure.

The academy usually offers beginner groups for small kanteles 5-11 strings and a kantele ensemble (Satakieli) for all kinds of kanteles. The repertoire includes Finnish folk songs both played and sung.

  • Go to a kantele camp

The Finnish summer is full of kantele camps where you can dedicate some time to kantele playing, singing, jouhikko playing.. The most prominent kantele camps are perhaps Sommelo and Ilomantsi, both located in Eastern Finland. The camp is Sommelo is organised together with a music festival and seems to draw a lot of international players. The Ilomantsi camp is time-wise the longest camp, and offers a plethora of side courses to take. In addition, the camp is accompanied by a kantele/jouhikko building workshop. Follow the Kantele Association newsfeed for a list of camps for each summer. The keyword you are looking for is kanteleleiri.

  • Get a private teacher

You can reach the University of the Arts-database for students offering private lessons or ask around in the Kantele Association. Join their Facebook group. The private lessons are a flexible way of studying but may be slightly more expensive than academy fees. You can also consider gathering a small group of people for private group lessons. In the areas around Lahti, Joensuu, and Kokkola, you may also find private teachers, as there are many students aiming to become professional musicians or expects in music pedagogy with the kantele.

If you yearn for professional studies in the kantele, you can check the aforementioned and linked institutes, as well as the Sibelius Academy and the Conservatory of Helsinki.


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