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Photo: Jānis Ķirpītis

Zane Uitto has a Masters degree in Global music from the University of the Arts in Helsinki and a Bachelors degree in Ethnomusicology from Jāzeps Vītols Latvian Academy of Music. She has developed an approach for teaching traditional music and world rhythms using games and dancing. Zane has been teaching music for over 15 years and aims to spread the joy of using music to look at life with wonder.

Zane teaches voice, piano, and Music Playschool in Latvian and English.


Q&A with Zane

Where are you from and what instruments do you play?

I am from Latvia, little village not far from Riga, named Zaķumuiža – The Hare Manor. Grew up surrounded by forest. That’s why I have a strong voice and I play bagpipes. But I choose piano as an accompaniment instrument for my singing.

If you weren’t a musician what would you be doing?

I would probably be an actor or a book proofreader. These have also been my earlier professions.

Where did you study?

I studied at the University of Arts Helsinki, Sibelius Academy. My main subject was Global Music Master studies.

Where are you studying now?

I have graduated with a Master degree. Now I am learning from life, from every child I teach, from other teachers and their experiences. I think it is a big treasure to learn things from each other.

What was the thing that got you interested in music?

Before I learned to talk, I was singing melodies. And even when I chose to study philology, most of all I was excited about the phonetics and sound of the language. So, my life guided me back to music.

Why are you in Finland?

I heard that Sibelius Academy has the best Folk Music department. As an ethnomusicology student in Jāzeps Vītols Latvian Academy of Music I applied for exchange studies. I fell in love with Finland. And Finland offered me reasons to stay: Global music master studies, open-minded friends, Latvian diaspora community, an opportunity to organise Latvian children school lessons. And now, an amazing work place at ISM Finland.

Who is your favourite musician/composer?

This is a difficult question, because music is my everyday work. I love to be in silence in my free time. Sometimes I enjoy listening to Beethoven’s sonatas, and singing Tchaikovsky’s operas. And Björk, she is an inspiration.

What has been your most special musical experience to date?

In 2020 I had three solo concerts in Musiikkitalo as a part of Summer concerts. I was so happy to share my music with the audience. I love to play for a small audience, because I feel a much bigger connection with people, we can look into each other’s eyes and build trust.

Do you have any secret/not-so-secret (unmusical) talents?

Yes. I knit very well. But I mostly do it in the wintertime.

Do you have guilty pleasure?

Sour cream. Even from my childhood I thought it is the best food possible. With potatoes, or vegetable salad, in the cakes or on the pancakes. As a small girl I was dipping my finger in a sour cream jar and secretly eating it. My mom was wondering why it was gone so quickly. But it has to be the real sour cream, from Latvia or Estonia. Finns can make tasty rahka or kermaviili, but real sour cream comes from the Baltics.

Tea or coffee?

Tea.

Cats or dogs?

Cats. Life with a cat is so easy.

Salad or Pizza?

Salad.

What is your favourite country to visit?

I love to explore my two countries – Latvia and Finland. There are so many places I haven’t been to yet. The same with literature and books. I love to read and get to know literature from Finland.

What is your favourite season?

Spring. It is not so cold, but also not yet hot. And nature is waking up from the sleep. Spring has a special smell that makes me happy.

What is your favourite food?

Probably vegetables. Almost every day I make a vegetable plate. And, of course, with sour cream dipping sauce.

Do you have hobbies?

Two years ago I started to dance in Latvian Folk dance group “Aurora”. I am happy to be a part of this amazing group of people. We have the best instagram page with the most inspiring quotes ever. Also, this winter I started to ski again. Last time I did it when I was 7 years old. It is an amazing activity. I recommend it to everyone!