I am an accordionist, composer, arranger and educator from Võrumaa, Southern part of Estonia. My journey together with the accordion started at the age of 9 at Võru music school. My teacher, Siiri Kahar, encouraged me to play jazz and popular music in addition the the classical repertoire we were working with. As there is no high school in this amazing little village called Rõuge, I decided to move to Tartu, where I started studying at Hugo Treffner Gymnasium & Tartu Heino Eller Music School. I continued with studying classical music.
How I got into jazz & did you know that I studied the vibraphone? Curious? Keep on reading!
After receiving my high school diploma, my studies at Heino Eller Music School were not done. During my second year, I decided to switch from classical music to jazz music. I talked to the head of the department and asked if it would be possible to study jazz as an accordion player. "Well, get one more person on board and we will make it happen", he said! So I did! Thanks, Erik, for joining me on that journey!
I started having lessons with Jaak Lutsoja and other amazing musicians, including Lembit Saarsalu. During my studies at Eller music school I started to compose and found my own voice. During those 4 years, I was playing together with many different groups and being part of many projects. I wanted to learn a second instrument, so I started learning the vibraphone. I love it! I miss playing it!
Education in folk
After graduating from Tartu Heino Eller Music School I continued at the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre, where I started off with jazz music. Whilst studying jazz I took lessons from Tuulikki Bartosik who inspired me, a lot! In 2015 I had the possibility to take part in the NordTrad conference which took place in Denmark. That changed my life. Seeing a living tradition in Sønderho left me amazed! I decided that folk music is something I want to dig into. That is also when I found out about the Nordic Master in Folk Music programme. So, I ended up where I always belonged - in folk music! I received a Bachelor's degree from the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre, folk music being my main subject and continued at the Sibelius Academy in Finland.
Nordic Master in Folk Music
In the autumn of 2019 I started my Master's studies at the Nordic Master in Folk Music programme. During the first semester we were studying at the Royal Academy in Stockholm (KMH), where I had the honour of having main instrument lessons with the most amazing teacher ever: Leif Ottosson. Second semester brought me to Denmark, where my accordion teacher was the sweetest & most positive teacher I've ever had: Mette Kathrine Jensen Stærk. During autumn 2020, I was back in Finland, studying at the Sibelius Academy, Maria Kalaniemi, Olli Kari and Timo Alakotila being my main teachers. We were supposed to travel to Norway during spring 2021, but due to the situation in the world all of our lessons were held online. By now, I am done with my studies and will graduate in June 2023. I extended my studies as COVID-19 made my studies quite different from what I was expecting. So I took courses in the history of film music, film music composition and many different courses in pedagogy.
ETHNO has been a big part of my journey - I have been an artistic mentor at Ethno Estonia (2018), Ethno Sweden (2021), Ethno Palestine (2022) and maybe there will be more coming up soon! Of course it all started with being a participant first (my first Ethno was Ethno Estonia 2014), then volunteering, then going for Ethnofonik (a camp for training new mentors) in France back in 2016 and now I am mentoring and training new mentors!
What am I up to now?
These days I work as a freelance musician, accordion teacher, composer & an arranger. I live in Finland and commute between Estonia quite often. I am keen on sharing knowledge about playing the accordion, composition, folk music (Nordic and Estonian), releasing an album, mentoring or any other subjects connected to music. Feel free to contact me for taking lessons or collaborating! I have worked together with an animation artist; done a few jobs as a recording artist.
Who do I love?
My biggest influences & inspirations are: Bon Iver, Tigran Hamasyan, Basco, Dreamers' Circus, Timo Alakotila, Maria Kalaniemi, Jacob Collier, Coldplay, Laura Mvula, Kinnship, Estonian traditional music & Nordic traditional music ❤️