Kantele workshops at the Retreat Center Pohjolan Valo


September 06, 2014

The Retreat Center  Pohjolan Valo organized kantele workshops during two weekends this summer in Rymättylä, Naantali, at the beautiful Suikkila estate. The main building is from the 1850’s, and the 30 hectares of land belonging to the estate is partly located by the sea and by the protected lake.

Retriittikeskus Pohjolan Valo, päärakennus

The main building of the retreat center Pohjolan Valo

The workshops were meant for adults who wish to stop for a moment to experience kantele music and refresh themselves by producing their own music on their own terms. The beginners course was at the end of June (from Friday night to Sunday midday) and the follow-up course at the beginning of August, the undersigned acting as the teacher.

Anne Ranta, Retriittikeskus Pohjolan Valon omistaja.

Anne Ranta, the owner of the retreat center.

At the beginners course no previous musical background was required, and it was possible to loan an instrument at the center. The participants were taught the basic playing techniques on the 5-string kantele and they were encouraged to produce their own music by the means of improvisation.

The participants of the beginners course were also given the chance to come to the follow-up course in August (5 of them did).  In addition to the 5-string kanteles, also the 10 to 15 -string kanteles were now in use. The aim was to go deeper into the improvisation, master the playing techniques better, experience the timbre of the kantele and learn how to change it. The main focus, however, remained in the personal relationship with the player and the instrument.

Both courses also included the familiarization to the bronze and brass string kanteles which were used during the earlier centuries before the modern steel string kanteles.

Anne Bärlund

Anne Bärlund

The lovely young Danish lady with Finish lineage, Anne Bärlund, took part in the June course and her thoughts can be read from the coming Kantele-issue (kantele.net , published in September the 29th). And correspondingly Riitta Udd from Jyväskylä writes about her experiences from the follow-up course and her thoughts about the therapeutic role of music in her work as a physiotherapist.

Lauantai iltapäivän kuuntelutuokio

Saturday afternoon nap with kantele music

Both weekends contained 10 lessons, and on Saturday afternoon there was a special afternoon nap time, when I played ca. 45 min. improvisation on different kanteles, and the workshop participants were able to lay down on mattresses. After I had had enough of playing, I sneaked out and left them sleeping… Nice.  🙂

During the spare time there was the possibility to wander the forest routes around the estate. The Saturday night sauna by the lake, the delicious meals, and the always warm tea and coffee pots deserve the very special mention.


Ihanat ateriat (photo Anne Bärlund)

Pure Finnish food (photo Anne Bärlund)

Both weekends were absolutely memorable experiences for me. The intensity of the participants, the deep immersing in the subject, interesting conversations, the encountering of wonderful people (not to mention the nature), the common experience of the music, and the wandering in the colorful world of improvisation with various personalities, left unforgettable memories in my mind.

This combination was perfect: wonderful environment and surrounding nature, pure, delicious food and just awesome people!

Elokuinen lauantai-ilta saunalaiturilla

An August Saturday sauna evening







Again next summer (June 26-28 & July 31-August 2, 2015) – you are very welcome!!!