It’s tough being an accordion player. While the names for other musical instruments, such as viola or cello, convey grace and refinement, the synonyms for accordion sound like it’s on the receiving end of a bully’s rage: groan box, squeeze box, stomach Steinway, wind box.
Also, the accordion isn’t a popular instrument like the piano or violin, nor is it visually appealing. It’s heavy, squared, awkward, and after you’ve labored to remove it from its case, hauled it up like an Olympic weightlifter, then strapped it onto your chest, you’re still not done. For one note, one simple note, you press the treble keys on the right, the black buttons on the left, while compressing and expanding the bellows in the middle. Talk about multi-tasking. Running a half marathon in 90 degree heat doesn’t come close to the calories burned when playing an accordion.
I know all this first-hand. I studied (I use the term loosely) for four years – from age 7 to 11. I sympathized with my accordion teacher who painstakingly listened to my bad notes, offered half-hearted advice, then collected his pay as he ran out the door. While other little girls were playing dress-up, I was struggling with scales; later, when they were batting their lashes at cute boys, I was practicing “Autumn Leaves” for a recital. At my brother’s bar mitzvah, my parents looked on with pride as I, dressed in white lace, my new shoes reflecting light from the room’s chandelier, played a tune for them by heart.
My accordion was finally put to rest when I approached my teens and other pursuits took up my time. It collected dust in a corner for awhile until a house fire forced it to sing its final swan song.
But my accordion years did give me some special gifts: A love of all sorts of songs, the ability to read music, and the bragging rights when I tell those pianists and violinists of my unique musical background. Yes, indeed. I do believe they’re jealous…
Lori M. Myers is an award-winning writer of creative nonfiction, fiction, essays and plays. Bronx-born and New Jersey-raised, Lori currently lives in Pennsylvania but will be relocating to New York soon. Music has helped her find the rhythm and beats in her articles and stories, particularly the dark fiction that she loves to write. Her book, Crawl Space, will be out later this year. You can find out more about Lori on her website www.lorimmyers.com