Heli Huovinen, student 2016-2017 and 2019-2020

Playing in a band was one of the highlights of my studies. Often there is no place, instruments or people to play with, and therefore it was great to be able to play properly with people. I also strongly remember digging for my own musical roots. It affected everything I did during my studies, and was beneficial in many ways.

Language has an important role in music

The musical tradition enriches culture. The traditional Sámi music dialects are not just Sámi culture but culture in general. All art and culture is an enrichment worth pursuing and promoting, rather than just trying to keep alive. This is our way, and it has a long history. Therefore, it must have something particularly good and valuable and is a wisdom worth passing on. There is something in it that is good for us. After all, people like all kinds of music, and there may be surprising connections despite long distances. Musical tradition essentially also involves language. For example, Inari Sámi has been a much endangered language for a long time, but livđes allow us to familiarise ourselves with the history and development of the language through music.

Old tradition

At the beginning of the studies, I felt that livđe would not make a difference to me. There was presumably no livđe left of my family, and that is why it felt like a distant thing. The more I researched the topic, however, the more I got interested in it. Marko Jouste’s courses and book laid a good, factual foundation for studying the musical tradition of my family. I talked plenty with my student friend Anna Morottaja and debated with her on the topic. I interviewed my aged relatives. It included not only the musical theme but also life stories and all kinds of changes and stages of life, starting from war. In addition, I researched the material in archives. I started to grasp the big picture and the understanding of music the previous generations had. The thought that music is listened to as a recording and enjoyed in an audience is a rather new concept. As a vocal means of passing on the old ways, however, it is a very old tradition.

Over the ocean to tell stories

I have now applied to the second year in Utsjoki in the soloist line. With the first year, I got a good start and could definitely use some further studies. I learned plenty of playing skills and even something about music theory, though I have to say that it sure was difficult at times! I also absorbed experience with performing and self-confidence. The studies provided good general knowledge, and understanding musical traditions and the Sámi pop culture is of great help as a reporter, for example. My next bigger project will start in July 2019 when I head out to Canada for an opera created in co-operation between the Beaivváš Theatre and the Toronto Cree Theatre. The opera piece consists of Cree folklore and a Sámi story. I have a role as a narrator, and I am enthusiastically looking forward to seeing how it will turn out. My studies will certainly help me with this, as well.


Sámi Music Academy's student stories