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Between changing society and sustaining heritage: Elevating locality in music education in and through the Näppäri practice in Finland

The study addresses the internationally recognized need for music education to attend to sustainability in a rapidly changing society. Sustainability is understood to include social and communal aspects and intangible cultural heritages. The study explores the Näppäri practice, an inclusive intergenerational approach to folk music education in Finland. The study will critically examine how sustainability could be understood as part of music educators' social and professional responsibility through in-depth analyses of the practice. Further, it will discuss the role of Finnish music schools in contributing to social and cultural sustainability.

In line with the sustainable development objective of the United Nations 2030 Agenda, the Näppäri practice can significantly contribute to the music education system in Finland and globally by offering conceptual understanding and practical tools for enhancing social and cultural sustainability. Highlighting the experiences of diverse participants, the study recognizes that the combination of inclusive intergenerational practice and intangible cultural heritage has under-researched potential for music education. Moreover, the study gives perspective on music schools' crucial role in sustaining local folk music traditions.

Globally, the study provides an understanding of the dynamics of sustaining these traditions in relation to rapidly changing societies. Therefore, following UNESCO's Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, integrating inclusive intergenerational ensemble practices drawing from local folk music traditions could be seen as a solid part of national art education.

The Finnish Cultural Foundation funds the research.


Presentation: Näppäri music education as a counterlabelling act and critical counter-practice. Society and Research in Dialogue. Siba Research Days. Sibelius Academy of the University of the Arts. Helsinki, Finland. March 15, 2024.


Invited speech: Unleashing the Potential of Folk: Equal access, Social change, and the Näppäri Practice. Transformative Resonance & the Arts: Social change, Accountability, and Imagination. Seminar. Malmö Academy of Music/Lund university, Sweden. November 8, 2023.

Presentation: Elevating local musical heritage: Finnish Näppäri practice as a game changer. 3rd European Music School Symposium. University of Performing Arts Vienna, Austria. October 6, 2023.

Invited speech: Between changing society and sustaining heritage: Elevating locality in and through the hybrid Näppäri practice. Communality & the Arts: Place, sustainability and heritage. Seminar in Lund University, Malmö Academy of Music, Sweden. November 8, 2022.

Invited speech: The Finnish Näppäri practice. European Network for Music School Research. Doctoral student forum in the presymposium. University of Performing Arts Vienna, Austria. October 13, 2022.

Symposium presentation: The Näppäri practice: An educational innovation for sustaining local folk music traditions in Finland. International Society for Music Education. World Conference in Brisbane, Australia (online). July 20, 2022.

Presentation: Researcher’s memories as part of data: Seeking social and cultural sustainability in the Finnish Näppäri practice. PhD day in Nordic Network for Research in Music Education Conference. Jyväskylä, Finland. 

April 4, 2022.


Lamminmäki, N., Sæther, E., Treacy, D., & Westerlund, H. ‘Counterlabelling’ as a political act: Transitions in and through Finnish folk music education. In Treacy, D. & Odendaal, A. (Eds.), Ecological Transitions in Music Education. Springer. (coming soon)

Backer Johnsen, H., Capponi-Savolainen, A., Choi, S., Fornhammar, L., Jääskeläinen, T., Kallio, A. A., Kamensky, H., Keskinen, K. A., Kivijärvi, S., Koivisto, T-A., Lamminmäki, N., Lehtinen-Schnabel, J., Mesiä, S., Miettinen, L., Siljamäki, E., Snellman, A., Thomson, K., Timonen, V., Treacy, D., Tuovinen, T., & Vallenius, L. (2020). Collaboratively Navigating Liminality in Music Education Doctoral Studies. In Laes, T. & Hautsalo, L. (Eds.). Remarks on a visionary’s journey. An anthology celebrating Heidi Westerlund. Hansaprint. 


Harju, H-M., Lamminmäki, N., Luoma, S., Malve, T. & Mäki-Reini, O. (Eds.). (2020). Maksetut Viulut Nuottikirja. [The Songbook of Maksetut Viulut]. Painotalo Välikangas.

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