The accordion doesn’t have to have a bad rap. There is a whole new generation of people who haven’t been subjected to Lawrence Welk, Steve Urkel, Polka and homeless-looking street “performers.” Most people nowadays don’t have any opinion about the accordion. Ironically, the biggest complainers are the accordion players themselves… like Rodney Dangerfield, they “just can’t get no respect!”
But in order to change perceptions and form new ones, we need to stop doing the same things over again, generation after generation. That’s the definition of insanity.
When I was a kid learning traditional accordion music, public opinion was fiercely against all things accordion. Kids laughed and called me a dork, news outlets and late night show hosts snickered at Lawrence Welk. Pretty much the only people who liked the accordion were my parents and old people with some nostalgia for the “old country.”
But the instrument itself doesn’t care about public opinion. The instrument just makes pretty sound – that’s all. That doesn’t mean the sound always has to be polka, Lady of Spain or Libertango. I didn’t realize until later in life that nobody wants to listen to that. A spazzy performance of “The Bumblebee” or “Czardas” might look impressive, but nobody wants to sit there and listen to that for any length of time. What an epiphany! So why do we accordion players keep doing this and expect the public to suddenly think it’s cool?
They won’t. We’ve been doing this for 40-50 years now and accordion players just can’t seem to get a clue. We just reinforce the same old accordion stereotypes and play the same old stuff our grandparents played. With the advent of digital accordions, the corny factor is going through the roof!
If you want to get some attention and change hearts and minds, do something new. Something unique. Play music that today’s generation recognizes. The accordion is a beautiful and versatile instrument – there are so many ways it can be used.
Learn some rock. Pop. Oldies. Reggae. Death metal. (Kidding about that last one – or am I?). Think to yourself, “Would I want to listen to this?” or “Would this be interesting?” before testing it out on live humans.
The accordion will come back, but we need some new champions to carry the accordion forward into the 21st century. Don’t forget the old ways – there are many blessings in traditional study – but the accordion also needs to evolve with the times.
If you’re with me, join me in the fight by subscribing to my YouTube channel and other social media channels. Support me on Patreon. I also offer accordion coaching and lessons via Skype. Whether you’re brand new to the accordion, looking to learn some specific moves or styles, or just pick my brain, I can help you.
The accordion is dead. Long live the accordion!