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Playlist: Classics of children’s music in Finland

by Maiju Kopra

On this playlist, Maiju Kopra, President of the Children’s Music Association in Finland, guides us through a selection of classic children’s music.

Satu Sopanen and the Tuttiorkesteri: Pienen pieni veturi (Tiny Little Locomotive)

Music: trad. (Denmark)
Lyrics: Liisa Tenkku
Arrangement: Satu Sopanen and Tuttiorkesteri

Over the decades, this song, which has brought joy to children, families and the young at heart, has rightfully earned its status as a classic. There have been countless arrangements of the song for various ensembles, and it’s a staple in the repertoire of almost every young musician, regardless of their instrument. Satu Sopanen and the Tuttiorkesteri’s (the “Tutti Orchestra” or “Pacifier Orchestra”) rendition of this locomotive can also be aptly deemed a classic.

Children’s Music Orchestra Ammuu!: Ihahaa (Neigh)

Music: Marjatta Meritähti
Lyrics: Laura Latvala
Arrangement: Esko Grundström, Tero Pajunen

This classic is sung virtually everywhere – in music playschools, daycare centres, homes, and during children’s plays. It’s a tune that often fills the aisles of stores and checkout lines. While Marjatta Meritähti is renowned for many classic children’s songs, “Ihahaa” stands out as a timeless one spanning generations. In this delightful rendition by the Children’s Music Orchestra Ammuu! (“Moo!”), the music is also credited to Päivi Hirvonen.

Fröbelin palikat: Sutsi Satsi

Music/lyrics: Hannu Mäkelä
Arrangement: Ari Bergström, Mats Lillrank, Timo Nuutinen, Hannu Mäkelä

The Fröbelin Palikat (“Fröbel’s Blocks”) are a timeless classic, whether we’re referring to the groundbreaking early childhood education blocks by Friedrich Fröbel or the Finnish band that kicked off in 1987. Since the early 1990s, children have been grooving and dancing to the beat of “Sutsi satsi”, and it seems the party won’t be stopping anytime soon. By popular demand, these “blocks” will grace the stage at Ruisrock, one of the most prominent Finnish rock festivals, in the summer of 2024.


Pentti Rasikangas: Mennään hiljaa (Let’s Go Quietly)

Music/lyrics: Pentti Rasinkangas
Arrangement (1993 version): Pentti Rasinkangas, Jarmo Romppanen, Hannu Risku, Jani Snellman
Arrangement (2016 version): Tommi Lievemaa, Riku Kettunen, Petteri Pitkänen, Jussi Siukola, Pentti Rasinkangas 

For almost forty years now, audiences have delighted in the insightful and occasionally whimsical songs of Pentti Rasinkangas. He still actively performs today, both solo and with his diverse ensembles. “Mennään hiljaa” has become a standard that is sung in households, classrooms and other settings, as well as by choirs. This melody provides the backdrop for celebrations and the everyday routines and has been sung as countless different arrangements. As these two different versions demonstrate, there are numerous renditions of this piece in Rasinkangas’s repertoire. He first recorded this song with the Ohilyönti (Offbeat) orchestra in 1993.

1993 version

2016 version

Soiva Siili: Ruuneperi (Runeberg)

Music and lyrics: Markus Lampela
Arrangement: Markus Lampela, Kyösti Salmijärvi, Risto Pietilä, Tommi Salmela

The Soiva Siili (Melodic Hedgehog) duo is the gift of Oulu to Finnish children’s music. The duo are a classic and have been making music for nearly thirty years. This duo has released many fun and insightful classics. “Ruuneperi” is a fitting example of combining history education, language learning and music – all with a touch of humour.

Mimmit: Ystävyys (Friendship)

Music and lyrics: Pauliina Lerche
Arrangement: Antti Halmetoja

The Mimmit group has delighted families with their music, animations, and TV shows for over 15 years now. For the lyrics of “Ystävyys”, they collected children’s thoughts on friendship and composed these into a song. Released in celebration of the band’s tenth anniversary, the song has been released in five languages: Finnish, French, German, Spanish, and English.

Find the versions in Finnish, French, German and Spanish.

Arne Alligator & Djungeltrumman: Där kommer Arne Alligator (Here Comes Arnie Alligator)

Music and arrangement: Marcus Granberg
Lyrics: Marcus Granberg and Tomas Nyberg

Arnie Alligator must be considered a classic, as this Swedish-speaking green character and his friends have gained tremendous popularity both in Finland and in Sweden. In this song, we get to know Arnie better. Arnie Alligator’s adventures and songs mainly take place in Finnish and Swedish, but occasionally also in Danish and English.

In Finnish

In Swedish

Hevisaurus: Räyh! (Grr!)

Music and lyrics: Samuel Onninen, Markus Talvikoski
Arrangement: Perttu Vänskä

Children’s music is an incredibly diverse genre, encompassing all sorts of styles – which is fantastic! Hevisaurus (Heavy Metal Saurus) has gained acclaim both internationally and in Finland, the mecca of heavy metal, since 2009. This band, consisting of dinosaurs and one dragon, has crafted solid classics that metal fans adore year after year. Grr and rock on!

The Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra with Oskari Pennanen: Minun ystäväni on kuin villasukka (My Friend is like a Wool Sock)

Music and lyrics: Petri Virtanen
Arrangement: Jorma Harkonen

Grandma’s hand-knitted wool socks accompany many Finns throughout their life, in various sizes. They bring with them softness and warmth, especially in the midst of a cold winter, but even in the summer. Petri Virtanen has penned a wonderfully gentle song about friendship, echoing through homes, choirs, and celebrations of all ages. For this classic playlist, I’ve chosen the arrangement made for a boy soprano (Oskari Pennanen)  and the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra (conducted by Leif Segerstam) – because sometimes classics need the support of a hundred-strong symphony orchestra.

Pikku Papun Orkesteri: Höllää pöllö (Take it Easy, Owl)

Music: Janne Ali-Vehmas
Lyrics: Liisa Kallio
Arrangement: Maiju Kopra, Sannis Sundström, Janne Ali-Vehmas, Antti Kokkola, Reetta Kuisma, Heli Kajo

The character Pikku Papu (Little Beanie), created by Liisa Kallio for her children’s books, began venturing into the world of music alongside in 2012. Released in 2016, the song “Höllää pöllö” has since been reminding both kids and adults about the importance of taking it easy and slowing down. It offers valuable insights amidst the hustle and bustle of everyday life. While Pikku Papun Orkesteri’s (Little Beanie’s Orchestra) music isn’t available on streaming platforms, a music video for this song has been produced in collaboration with the author-illustrator Liisa Kallio.

Muumiperheen lauluretki: Myy tahtoo juhlia! (My Wants to Party!)

Music: Soili Perkiö
Lyrics: Hannele Huovi
Arrangement: Matti Kallio 

Soili Perkiö and Hannele Huovi are a duo behind countless beloved children’s songs. With Muumiperheen lauluretki (Musical Journey of the Moomin Family), the ever-charming Moomin characters created by Tove Jansson became cherished with new poems and melodies. Celebrating both the Moomins and the longstanding, impactful collaboration between Perkiö and Huovi, the song is a perfect choice for closing this playlist. In the words of Little My: “proper parties are missing here, but now that will change”!