Folk music

As a folk music student at Sibelius Academy, you will become familiar with not only historical but also contemporary folk music, as well as research in the field. After graduating from the Folk Music Department, you will be able to work as a musician, as a teacher, and in other positions that require expertise in folk music.

In a nutshell

  • Target degree: bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music, master’s degree in music
  • Scope of the degree: BA + MA 180 + 150 study credits (3 yrs. + 2.5 yrs.), master’s degree 150 study credits (2.5 yrs.)
  • Field of art: Music
  • Organiser: The Sibelius Academy
  • Next time to apply: January 2019
  • Studies begin: at the start of the academic year in August


  • Person responsible for the degree programme: Department head, lecturer Pauliina Syrjälä
  • Other responsible persons/Head Teachers: Professor Kristiina Ilmonen, Department vice-head, lecturer Juhani Näreharju, other lectureres: Roope Aarnio, Maria Kalaniemi, Jouko Kyhälä, Sinikka Kontio, Petri Prauda, Pauliina Syrjälä, Vilma Timonen


Major subjects in the Folk Music Department include vocal studies, kantele, violin, accordion, keyboard, guitar, mandolin, wind instruments, harmonica, percussion, bass, and other instrument studies. While the focus of study is Finnish folk music, music from other cultures is also included. The department's faculty includes pre-eminent performers and teachers from Finland and abroad. Folk music study for talented young musicians is also available at the Junior Academy.


Your principal study in the Folk Music Department focuses on musicianship. While knowledge of tradition is a key element of study, it is also vital to learn to make music of your own and to work within other fields of music and art. It is possible for you to specialise in either teaching or research. You can also include courses and study modules from other departments in your degree. Various dance and theatre productions can also be included.


You will enjoy excellent performance opportunities from the beginning of your time at Sibelius Academy. Each spring, the Department of Folk Music organises Taigajuhla, an open concert series with the department’s bachelor’s and master’s candidates displaying their talent. In addition, the department organises approximately twenty other concerts annually.


The Folk Music Department regularly releases recordings, learning materials, and academic essays highlighting the department’s extensive and informed expertise.


The Folk Music Department hosts two international master's programmes: Glomas (Nordic Master of Global Music) and NoFo (Nordic Master in Folk Music). After graduating from the Folk Music Department, you will be able to work as a musician and a teacher and in other positions that require expertise in folk music. The Master of Music degree also qualifies you for doctoral study.

Doctoral study

The doctoral degrees available at the Sibelius Academy are Licentiate of Music (LicMus) and Doctor of Music (DMus). Doctoral students can choose from three programmes: Arts, Research or the Applied Study Programme. The Folk Music Department’s publication series presents research conducted in connection with doctoral degrees in the Arts Study Programme, such as Arja Kastinen’s research into the possibilities of kantele in her dissertation Erään 15-kielisen kanteleen akustisesta tutkimuksesta (2000) and Sinikka Kontio’s research into old hymns in her dissertation Veisuun mahti (2001).

How to apply

The entrance examination assesses your musicianship as an instrumentalist or singer and your knowledge of folk music performance practices. The examination has two stages. The University of the Arts Helsinki website includes earlier entrance examinations, which may give you an insight into the entry requirements.

Upcoming events


Kristiina Ilmonen


Pauliina Syrjälä (Department Head, responsible teacher for the Nordic Master in Folk Music, contact person for the Nordtrad network)
Juhani Näreharju (Department Vice Head)
Anna-Kaisa Liedes
Roope Aarnio
Jouko Kyhälä
Petri Prauda
Nathan Thomson (Responsible teacher for the Glomas education)
Vilma Timonen
Sinikka Kontio
Maria Kalaniemi

Responsible teachers for individual instruments

Accordion: Maria Kalaniemi, Teija Niku
Harmonica: Jouko Kyhälä
Folk song: Anna-Kaisa Liedes
Kantele: Anna-Karin Korhonen, Vilma Timonen
String instruments: Roope Aarnio
Double bass: Elina Lappalainen
Keyboard instruments: Pilvi Järvelä, Jouko Kyhälä
Percussion: Ricardo Padilla, Tero Rantanen
Wind instruments: Kirsi Ojala
Violin, ljouhikko, nyckelharpa: Emilia Lajunen
Folk dance: Reetta-Kaisa Iles, Salla Korja-Paloniemi

Contact information

All University of the Arts Helsinki e-mail addresses are in the form firstname.lastname (at)

Pauliina Syrjälä
Head of Department, Lecturer

Juhani Näreharju
Deputy Head of Department, Lecturer

Kristiina Ilmonen


siba.admissions (at)