Saturday, July 04, 2009

Folk Music, Blues and good times in Sastamala

Dr. Shinichi Suzuki

Hotel Ellivuori was the venue for the 23rd Annual Suzuki music camp organized by the Finnish Suzuki Association in the town of Sastamala (before known as Vammala).

The Suzuki approach was developed in Japan by Dr. Shinichi Suzuki in the mid 20th Century. He believed that every child, if properly taught, was capable of a high level of musical achievement. His philosophy was that if every child has the inborn ability to learn their native language, then they also have the ability to learn and become proficient on a musical instrument. Begin children early and excite their own inborn joy of music, or the mother tongue approach.

In Sastamala were about one hundred young players with their parents and teachers representing violin, cello, flute and vocal as instruments.  (In the picture Ida Rautiainen, flute and teacher Marttiina Ahlström.)The week (June 28 – July 3, 2009) was packed with individual lessons, group practice and ensemble work. Also, a chance to enjoy outside activities and swimming in the pool or in the lake. The weather was warm and sunny the whole week.

Some special highlights:

On Wednesday night was a traditional Teachers’ Concert in the medieval Sastamala Church. The program consisted of fine performances by the Chamber Orchestra, flute, violin, guitar and singing. There was also Mauno Järvelä’s (left in picture) Folk Music Ensemble:

Thursday evening concert consisted of some traditional events and some new and perhaps surprising parts.  Marjukka, the camp Director, asked me to introduce the saxophone which does not belong to the family Suzuki instruments. The sound of saxophone was not heard in these events earlier. I did it by playing the old swing tune “” by Myron C. Bradshaw, Edward Johnson and Bobby Plater. The comp section was Venla, double bass (in the picture) and Pilvi, organ. Thanks to these ladies, the trio was well received by the audience. I also assisted by playing in “Fathers’ Choir” which this time did not sing at all, but produced a very funny act with music and magic tricks.

The big hit was the huge folk music Orchestra directed and rehearsed by Mauno Järvelä and his violinist daughters. I played there also tenor saxophone and Ida sang and played flute. A huge hit with the audience was Mauno’s blues “Pääoma (Das Kapital)”. Ida’s favorite was “Ismon Grilli (Ismo’s Fast Food Diner)” with a catchy melody and fast tempo.

The camp was successfully concluded on Friday afternoon with the Grande Finale Concert where each instrument group performed several pieces.  Leena Mäkilä (above picture, right) was directing the advanced group of flautists. The larger group performed Telemann's Minuet and Suzuki’s Allegro.

Ida Rautiainen and her friend Anna-Liisa (right).

That was a joyous week, thanks to the teachers and organizers. The kids were amazing with their dedication to music and desire to learn more.

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RennyBA said...

Must have been great to play with him and what a nice contribution you've done here!

Harri Rautiainen said...

thanks for your keen interest.
best regards to Oslo,

Saxland said...

Great report! Congratulations on your many saxophone contributions.

Re children and music, In the 1970's, I took a rugby tour through Wales. What especially impressed me is how EVERYBODY sang. It seemed like the national pastime. The message was find your key(s) and go from there. This seemed in marked contrast to North America where too many people felt they "couldn't sing", didn't "have a voice", and were reluctant to even try. But then, along came "Karaoke"! That certainly has broken down many barriers. Now if we could just revive the music program in primary schools...