hear the harp of Väinämöinen...


These lessons, which are designed for five and ten string kanteles, also appear in My First Kantele: 21 easy lessons for the absolute beginner.

What's Included: Most lessons are between 2-6 pages long and may include sound files, short videos, and play-along exercises. The printed book also includes additional material not found here, including many extra songs. Click here for a list of the songs included in the book.

What You Need: You will need Adobe Reader to view these lessons. If you use Mac, you will need to download and install Adobe Reader for Mac since the default pdf viewer on Mac computers (Preview) will not display the music and video files embedded in these lessons. Adobe Reader is a free program that can be downloaded here.

You will also need software that can play mp3 files and Flash video (.flv). If you don't already have this software, you can use VLC Media player, a free program that works on both Windows and Mac and plays both types of files. Download the correct version for your computer here.

Purchasing Info: Each lesson costs $1.50 (USD). Following purchase, you will receive an email with a link that will allow you to download your lesson.

I welcome emails from students who have questions or who are having problems with their lessons. Email me here.

Learn to Read Music

Lessons 3-21 costs $1.50 each.


1. Tuning Your Kantele

Learn how to use an electronic tuner, or tune your kantele by ear using the sound files included here. Includes a video demonstrating how to use a tuning hammer. Length: 3 pages

2. Let's Get Ready to Play

How do you hold your kantele? Which fingers pluck each string? This lesson will show you. Accompanying video and sound files let you practice fingering and help you learn the names of the strings. Length: 6 pages

3. Staffs

We write music by using different symbols to show which sounds are high or low, how long to hold a particular sound, when to play louder or softer, or when we should not be playing at all. This system of symbols is called musical notation and the foundation of this system is the "staff" - the place where you will find many of these symbols. Learn the names of the lines and spaces that make up a staff. Includes written exercises to teach you the names of the notes your kantele can play. Length: 5 pages

4. Measures

Dividing music into measures - or bars - makes it easier to find different locations within a piece of music. Learn about the different bar lines that indicate whether you've reached the end of a song or whether you have to repeat a section. Includes information on "pick-up" measures - those strange measures at the beginning of a song that don't include the "right" number of beats. Accompanying exercises and sound files will help you practice songs with repeats, learn to recognize pick-up measures and understand how to play songs with multiple endings. Length: 9 pages

5. Pitch

Each string on your kantele plays a different high or low note. Learn how to recognize them. Includes sound files to help you learn to recognize notes that are the same (i.e. low A, high A), but different pitches. Length: 2 pages

6. Clefs

The names of the notes written on a staff - and their pitch - are different, depending on which clef is used. Learn which clef your 5 or 10 string kantele uses, then use the accompanying sound files to play your first song, Väinämöinen’s Birth. Two sound files are included for this song so you can practice at slow speed and "normal" speed. Length: 2 pages

7. Ledger Lines and Note Stems

What are those short lines going through some of the notes on a staff? Do note stems point up or down? Learn how to figure out the names of notes that don't appear on the staff and how to draw notes properly. When you're through, you can have fun with three songs. Includes sound files for slow and fast versions of songs to help you learn them. Length: 3 pages

8. Note Values

How long do you hold each note? What are upbeats and downbeats? How do you count beats? Learn about the five most common types of notes you'll come across in your kantele music, and use the accompanying sound file to practice counting. Includes a note drawing exercise. Length: 4 pages

9. Rests

Sometimes you don't play a note. How do you know when to rest? Learn to recognzie different rest signs and how to count them. Sound file included. Length: 2 pages

10. Time Signatures

The time signature consists of two numbers and tells you how to count the music. Learn what each number means. Three sound files are included with the exercises, to help you count in different time signatures. Length: 2 pages

11. Counting

Once you understand time signatures and note values, it's a lot easier to count beats. This lesson includes examples of how to count in different time signatures. It also explains the difference between 3/4 and 6/8 time. Use the accompanying sound files to practice counting different beats, then have fun playing along with files to three new songs. Length: 5 pages

12. Tempo

Tempo is the speed at which a song should be played. Learn to recognize the most common terms used to indicate speed and use the accompanying sound files to practice different tempos. Length: 2 pages

13. Accidentals

Accidental symbols are placed in front of a note to raise or lower that note by a half step, or semitone. These symbols are known as sharps, flats and naturals. Learn to recognzie them and when to use them. Length: 2 pages

14. Key Signatures

The key signature tells you which notes are sharp or flat. Learn an easy trick for remembering the order sharps and flats are written down. Length: 2 pages

15. Intervals

How is it possible for the same song to begin on different notes? This lesson will tell you. Learn about melodic and harmonic intervals and how to calculate the interval between any two notes. When you're finished with the exercises, you can have fun with 4 new songs. Length: 7 pages

16. Scales

Grouping notes into scales makes it easier to tell which notes sound "good" together. There are many types of scales, and each one has a unique sound, but you only need to focus on two scales in order to play your kantele. This lesson will explain how to count whole and half steps and how to calculate major and minor scales. Several exercises are included, as well as some new songs. Length: 12 pages

17. Chords

Some kantele players like to play the melody line. Others prefer strumming chords, but how do you tell which chords to play? Learn how to build a triad chord. Includes common chord charts used by 5 and 10 string kanteles and several exercises with sound files to practice strumming. Length: 14 pages

18. Dynamics

Dynamics tell you how loudly or softly you should play different parts of a song. Learn to recognize the most common signs. Length: 2 pages

19. Articulation Marks

Articulation marks tell you how to play individual notes in a song - whether to accent them, play them staccato, or hold them longer than the indicated time. Learn to recognize the most common marks. Length: 2 pages

20. Ottava

Using an ottava symbol makes it easier to read the music, especially if you own a piccolo kantele. Length: 2 pages

21. Other Types of Repeats

Now that you recognize the most common repeat sign, learn to recognize other types of repeats and use the accompanying sound files to practice playing them. Length: 2 pages