Finnish National Museum

We loved the National Museum. I could’ve spent much longer there. (And I could’ve taken even more photos if I’d remembered to charge my camera battery first.) Favorite bits: costuming from 12th c. through modern, a smattering of musical instruments, a silent B&W film showing a Sami man going about his business of trapping and hauling furs on a large many-reindeer-driven sled.

Posted in Journal | Comments closed

Svenska Teatern

The Swedish theater in Helsinki is currently running Kristina från Duvemåla, a musical that was a smash hit in Sweden in the ’90s, and Elisabet especially was thrilled that we’d have the chance to see it live (she knows all the songs by heart). This was an extra-special outing and I was so glad she’d talked me into it! We loved the show, which was a real tear-jerker of a story with some stellar performers and engaging music.

The handy electronic translator gadgets were relying on a flaky wifi connection, and I have a hard time understanding Finland-Swedish without aid, so I was immune to the tear-jerking for a couple of large swaths there. So I sort of wished I’d read the story first, if only because I seemed to be the only one in the audience who didn’t know that our heroine has to die at the end. (In childbirth, because “having another child will kill her”, which advice she chooses to throw over some years after it is issued because for some reason it dictates that she have no physical contact with her beloved husband.) Though the whole premise makes me want to dive for historical materials: could it possibly be true that a woman emigrating from Sweden to the US in the 1840s, not to mention her entire community, would have no knowledge of the existence of birth control? I might have to read the novels.

Anyway. The theater was gorgeous and the production was polished, and we had a great time. We even had a nice little chat with the conductor after the show, leaning over into the strangely designed orchestra pit.

Posted in Journal | Comments closed

Quick trip to Helsinki

Winter break means time to travel just a little. And having a hospitable classmate from Helsinki — Anni is studying with us at ESI between years at the Sibelius Academy — means we get expert travel guide service at unbeatable pricing! So Andrea and I, and also our classmate Elisabet (who is from Stockholm), joined Anni for a several-day whirlwind trip to Helsinki, with a special bonus overnight trip on the ferry to Tallinn.

I’m going to try keeping the story pretty much in the photo captions this time. This first installment is about our first night (Fri), and then getting settled in town the next day (Sat).

Posted in Journal | Comments closed

Dance week at ESI

This week we’ve had an extra 18 people here for a week-long dance course. That’s a lot of people in the kitchen, and a lot of shoes! Tuesday evening we had a special dance night with Kjell-Erik Eriksson and Patrik Andersson, each of whom was here for part of the week playing for the dancers. Wednesday night we had a special French dance evening, courtesy of Petra’s and Chloe’s friend Lucas who was visiting for several days from Lyon, and who plays a mean 3-row button accordion. Thursday night was Tobotorsdag with Scillas Svänggäng, which includes Ditte and Anders Liljefors (her uncle) and Bo Larsson and a handful of their equally illustrious family members.

Next week is February break (sportlov, and if I knew why it’s called that I have forgotten), so Andrea and I are heading out in mere minutes for Helsinki! W00t!

Posted in ESI, Journal | Comments closed

Snow, week 7

Pretty pics!

Posted in Journal | Comments closed

Lots of guest teachers

We’ve had a whole fleet of special guests already this semester. Bo Larsson came to share some Uppland fiddle tunes, stories about Viksta-Lasse, some show-and-tell, and a couple of songs, and then after lunch he also played for dancing. Mats Andersson helped us prepare for our Wik visit by teaching us about writing lead sheets for some of the kinds of instruments we’d encounter, and suggesting some arrangement ideas for our chosen tunes. Kristina Lund came to do some vocal training and performance preparation exercises.

The most useful to me personally so far, though, have been our most recent two visitors.

Markus Svensson taught us some new tunes and recorded a whole slew more for us to work on later if we want, which was great fun. He also offered an insightful session about how to think about practicing. I have heard previously each individual piece of what he said, but somehow he still made new connections that hadn’t quite occurred to me. The most immediately useful bit was a tie-in between “our brains learn exactly what we feed them, so be careful about what you repeat” and how short focused stints of practicing (he suggests 3 minutes per day on each of 4 concrete accessible main tasks) are an opportunity to create a positive feedback loop: if you feel good about each day’s accomplishments, you can ensure that your practice time feels fun and productive. The attitudinal piece was the somehow-new bit, a timely reminder of a simple way to be nice to yourself.

We had a morning with Kjell-Erik Eriksson this week, which was fun both for new tunes and for pedagogical technique. We did a lot of our tune-learning without playing, and much of it without making any sound. He pushed that farther and in slightly different directions than I’ve seen before, with highly successful results. I’m looking forward to trying that out on future classes.

Posted in ESI, Journal | Comments closed