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A Young Accordionist's Story               
"Tom H." wrote on Aug 14, 17:21:50 2002
To: accordionplayers@yahoogroups.com  
From: "Tom H." 
Date: Thu, 15 Aug 2002 00:21:50 +0000
Subject: [Accordionplayers] Future of the Accordion

Hello Everybody,

I recently saw some discussion about the popularity and the future of the accordion. Being a college student and part of the "younger crowd" of accordion players I'd like to offer my point of view

I am a first generation American, my parents being from the Czech Republic where the Accordion is immensely popular and by my perception more widespread. When I was six years old they asked me "Tom, would you like to learn to play the accordion?" I hardly knew what the accordion was let alone how one was played but I thought "sure what the heck."

I took lessons every Monday and attended band rehearsals (accordions and drums only) for about eleven years, with annual competitions every summer. I went through four different accordions over the years as I outgrew them--until I was ready for the 120 bass.

When my elementary schoolmates found out that I played the accordion I was  an instant "geek."  I played for the school a few times but after many scoffs and giggles I decided at an early age that the accordion was unpopular and reserved for nerds.

It seems the biggest reason most kids felt this way was because of the Steve Urkel comedy TV show; with the super-dork "Steve Urkel" obnoxiously and violently "playing" the accordion.  When I told kids I played the accordion they would say "like Steve Urkel?!" For many years I felt the super-dork image had been branded on me and therefore felt ashamed to play publicly.

I am 20 years old now and took off for college last year. Naturally I brought the accordion with me, hoping to quietly play in the dorm without arousing too many obnoxious comments. Odd thing was, I started getting wide-eyed people at my door requesting me to play! With much prodding of me on their part I mustered the courage to play for several friends.

In short: They were amazed. Not one had seen a live accordion in their lives until now. Somehow they were now open-minded enough to dispel the "Steve Urkel" stereotype and listen (jaws dropped and all).

Watching me feed air to the accordion, play bass and play the keyboard all at the same time was to them like trying to run, write and eat a hamburger simultaneously.  Its the classic "rub your tummy and pat your head at the same time" analogy.

Nevertheless, the college kids that heard me play that night now have a profound respect for the accordion and they enjoy it immensely. One described it as the most "soothing" music he's ever heard.

As more and more young people are exposed to the accordion in the United States, the more their "Urkel" stereotypes and preconceptions will fade.  I believe that the popularity of the accordion in the US is on the upswing and could eventually rival its popularity in Europe and in other parts of the world as long as those sweet accordion notes keep coming to their ears.

Thanks for hearing me out...and never stop squeezing!