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I have been intrigued by the “kankle” for a very long while.  

They are beautiful instruments, and one of the most ancient of instruments. I was lucky to attend a small Baltic Psaltery conference a couple of years ago. I was one of the avid audience members who were mesmerised by the knowledge of the various players and musicologists (sp?).

I was so intrigued by this beautiful instrument that I purchased one in 2005 while visiting Lithuania for the first time. An acquaintenace of mine teaches how to play the instrument, so I have “signed up” for lessons.

It was quite the adventure getting the kankle out of Lithuania. I had missed my flight to Helsinki, due to engine problems, and therefore missed my connection to Toronto. I ended up spending the night at a hotel near the Vaanta-Helsinki airport. The whole while I was madly clutching my kankle, so that it wouldn’t be mistaken for luggage. I had carefully wrapped it in bubble wrap and cardboard.

Checking in the next morning for a flight to Heathrow the Ticket Agent asked me what I was clutching. I told him it was a “kantele” (Finnish word for the instrument… the instrument, btw, is fairly prevalent in the Baltics and is called a Kantele in Finland, Kannel in Estonia, Kokle in Latvia and Kankle in Lithuania – with regional variations as to playing styles, ornamentation, and woods used in the construction). When I said it was a kantele the fellow understood and said it was okay for me to bring it as “carry-on” even though I already had a purse and bag as my carry-on.

So, back to my excitement. I start my first “class” on March 24th. I have goose bumps now. I will actually learn how to strum it correctly, and actually get some music out of it. I was told that it’s a good thing that my kankle is unfinished wood – varnishes and any “waxes” would harm the resonance of the kankle.

Feel my goosebumps! Feel them!

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