Monday, March 13, 2006


I'm getting better at my accordion coordination. I guess I haven't written about this at all yet. Let's see...

I'm borrowing my Aunt Peter's accordion. It's a ladies-size, full-button (120 bass) piano accordion, which means it's the kind with 120 bass buttons on the left hand side and a row of 41 piano keys on the right hand side. It's a jaunty white and red pearl colored accordion that looks to be from the 40's or 50's, which isn't a good thing, actually because unlike some instruments, accordions tend to get worse with age. There are metal reeds inside that are held in place with special wax which ages over time, generally failing after a period of 30 to 40 years. This accordion has a few sticky buttons and some notes don't play fully at all. Better than nothing, though.

This thing weighs 18lbs/8kg and has thin leather straps to strap it to my body -- real hard on the ol' shoulders. Anyway, it takes an astounding amount of concentration to coordinate the three things you're doing at once: pressing the buttons with your left hand, pressing keys with your right hand, and working the bellows with your left arm. O_O;. Working the bellows rarely has anything to do with the timing of the music, which makes it that much more difficult. Argh. But I'm having fun: my Aunt PeterAnn figured out the chords to the Amelie themesong ("La Valse d'Amélie") -- see, the buttons on the left side actually play whole chords, and you fill in the notes with the keyboard on your right hand side. The whole song is 8 chords, two sets of four, but it's actually kind of easy because you're doing an "oom-pah" pattern in pairs. So, two different E chords, one is the "oom" the other is the "pah-pah" -- do that twice, then switch to F and do the same thing. And E and F are right next door to eachother so switching between those twice is easy. Then I gotta slide my hand down to B and C - same idea.

But then working in the notes on the right hand is tricky. And remembering to keep the bellows going! ACK. But it really gives me a strong sense of accomplishment; I feel really good about it. :D Maybe one day when I'm rich I can buy a new accordion to play with.

It's such a "nerdy" instrument nowadays but it is SO much fun to play - it makes you laugh. Learning to play the accordion takes SO much coordination and I can literally feel my brain swelling with accomplishment with every new thing I learn. It's simply a fabulous thing to learn. I highly reccomend it.

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