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Annika Mylläri

Head of Music, Centria University of Applied Sciences

I come from Kokkola, a small city on the West Coast of Finland. I started playing the flute at 11 years of age. I graduated from the Sibelius Academy in 1992 and continued my studies in New York City. I studied, performed and lived in the US for 10 years and finally moved back to Finland in 2002 (with an American husband and a baby) and worked in several schools teaching music and flute playing. During my time in the US, I gravitated to classical singing and left the flute behind. Back in Finland, I was one of the founding members of an opera company with an annual festival, Kokkola Opera Summer. Together with my childhood friend, soprano Anu Komsi and conductor Sakari Oramo, we produced operas from 2006-2015 ranging from Mozart to new commissions, and of course also performed in our festival. During this period I moved back to Kokkola with my two daughters. In 2012 I started a position as the managing director for a new concert hall (Schauman Hall) in nearby Jakobstad. The hall was under construction when I started and it was very inspiring to work on all the processes, concert series, and collaboration with educational organizations and clients. After 4 years of much work, I returned to teaching and working on music projects.

I have always been teaching at least part-time and while in Jakobstad, I worked part-time as a classical voice teacher for Novia UAS. As inspiring as working at the concert hall was, I wanted to be home with my daughters more. A possibility opened up and I started working with classical singers at Centria UAS but did also curriculum development, creating events and marketing our concerts. Currently, I work as the head of the Music Pedagogy programme at Centria.

I like to work with students both during singing lessons and pedagogical courses and it is very inspiring to see them find their own path in music. I try to look at things from the student's perspective and luckily teach some courses where I meet everyone and get to know them. Since we are a small programme, our teachers have an opportunity to actually get acquainted with every single student. We aim to create a community of musicians and pedagogues (students and teachers alike) where everyone is relevant and interested in developing their personal skill set.
I have always enjoyed doing many things and now I am able to work with administration, international coordination, projects, pedagogy development and concert production along with my teaching. Recently I have been part of a working group for Vision for Finnish Music Education 2030 and after publishing the report we have continued the work of bringing educational institutions together in discussions and concrete actions. I still do some performing, but much less than before. I started working on my PhD in 2021 (Jyväskylä University) which has made me look at collaboration, access to music education, the sense of belonging, and agency in a different way.

Kokkola Opera Summer: Die Fledermaus