The kantele is Finland’s national instrument, and its history goes as far back as 2,000 years. It is unclear where the kantele comes from and how old it really is because similar instruments are present all around the world. The nearest cousins to the kantele include the kannel in Estonia, the kuokle in Latvia, the kankles in Lithuania, and the gusli in Russia.
Kanteles come in many different sizes, but pupils in the music institute learn the large kantele. Usually the first kantele is a 36-string home kantele, and the next model up is the 39-string concert kantele. The music institute has an instrument for the pupils to use in their lessons, so you don’t have to carry your kantele to the institute.
The website www.kantele.net (available in English) sells used instruments, and you can find them in many online marketplaces, but make sure to ensure the condition of the instrument with your teacher before purchasing! A used home kantele costs between 500 and 1,500 euros. You can order a new instrument directly from kantele makers. Talk to your teacher for more information.
Our kantele teacher is Noora Laiho (Bachelor of Culture and Arts, Music Pedagogue; Master of Music).
I started to play the large kantele when I was 5 years old, even though the common starting age is around 7 to 9. If you have turned 5, you can apply to play the kantele! You will get to play all kinds of music ranging from folk music to the classical tradition to rhythm music in my lessons!
Welcome to the world of the kantele! 😊