News / USA

Accordion's Distinctive Sound Attracts Fans

After years in decline, instrument enjoys a surge in popularity

Students take a break from a week-long accordion competition to perform on the steps of the U.S. Capitol in August 2007.
Students take a break from a week-long accordion competition to perform on the steps of the U.S. Capitol in August 2007.
TEXT SIZE - +
June Soh

About half a century ago, the accordion was a very popular musical instrument around the world. Though it fell into a decline for several decades, the instrument has seen a resurgence in popularity in recent years - with accordion music festivals, competitions and clubs popping up across the United States.  

One group of accordion players is trying to bring the instrument back in the Washington, D.C. area. The Potomac Ensemble gets together regularly to rehearse for upcoming performances. The musicians are all members of the Washington Metropolitan Accordion Society, which is celebrating its eighth birthday. 

Joan Grauman, vice president of the Washington Metropolitan Accordion Society, performs with other accordion players during a celebration of the group's 8th anniversary.
Joan Grauman, vice president of the Washington Metropolitan Accordion Society, performs with other accordion players during a celebration of the group's 8th anniversary.

"In the first meeting or so, there were a handful of people," says Joan Grauman, vice president of the society. "But word spread quickly and we were surprised how many accordionists and former accordionists were in the area who started joining us on a monthly basis."

According to Grauman, the club now has about 70 members - very few of whom are professional musicians. "Many, many of the people who come to our club either quit for 30, 40 years and started playing again."

Yimeng Huang, 54, from China, is one of those. She played the accordion as a teenager back in China.

"I had never heard or touched an accordion all these years until three years ago I found this club," she says. "So I joined and it is just fun to see all these accordionists in one room. I just love it. I like the sound of it."

Grauman is also a historian for the American Accordionists’ Association. She says the accordion was, perhaps, a bit too popular in the 1950s and 60s.

"Every child was playing the accordion, playing the same few pieces of music. That didn’t help things," she says. "Then many feel that the Beatles created the situation for young people where they just wanted to play guitar rather than accordion. Rock music really came into being and it just sort of took interest from the accordion."

But in recent years, she says, with accordion festivals, competitions and clubs appearing across the country, the instrument has seen an upswing in popularity.   

Frank Busso, one of the few professionals in the society, plays accordion with the U.S. Air Force Band. He has a theory about the instrument's newfound popularity.

"I would attribute that to the accordion being seen and especially heard more and more these days whether that is in a TV commercial, in a television program, movie sound tracks, on the radio," he says. "I think youngsters are hearing that sound and say that is the sound I want to create."

Busso also thinks the Internet has a lot to do with it.

"I think YouTube is wonderful. There are so many wonderful performers and wonderful recordings of concerts that are available for the public to see for free. And it is a great way to see what the accordion can do."    

Busso, who also runs a music school, has students ranging in age from young children to retirees. Mark Nejako started taking lessons over a year ago.  A graduate student at Johns Hopkins University, he works as a research associate at a bio-science company.

"Every evening I usually sit down with the accordion. It has been a great stress reliever for me," says Najako. "After a hard day of work and trying to escape from reality, I always turn to this and it brings me great joy and happiness."

Busso believes the accordion’s versatility allows it to be incorporated into any genre of music - be it pop, rock, classical, jazz or show tunes. He expects to be hearing more of the instrument's distinctive sound as its popularity grows across the globe.

You May Like

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

John the XXIII and John Paul II will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square on April 27 More

Thailand Reacts to Plots Targeting Israelis

Authorities hope arrest of two Lebanese suspects will disrupt plot to attack young Israeli tourists More

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

'Once Upon a Forest' takes viewers deep into heart of tropical rainforest More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Churchi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 22, 2014 4:14 PM
On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Robotic Mission Kicks Up Lunar Dust

A robotic mission to the moon was deliberately crashed onto the lunar surface late last week, but not before scientists had collected data gathered by the spacecraft which was designed to self-destruct. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports on the preliminary findings of the craft, called LADEE - an acronym for Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer.
Video

Video Boko Haram Claims Responsibility for Bombing in Nigerian Capital

The Nigerian militant group known as Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for a bombing in the capital on April 14th that killed 75 people. In the video message, Abubakar Shekau, the man who says he ordered the bombing, says nothing about the mass abduction of more than 100 teenage girls, most of whom are still missing. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Abuja.
Video

Video Ukraine Developments Hang Over Obama Trip to Asia

President Barack Obama's trip to Asia this week comes as concerns over Beijing's territorial ambitions are growing in the region. Those concerns have been compounded by Russia's recent actions in Ukraine and the possibility that Chinese strategists might be looking to Crimea as a model for its territorial disputes with its neighbors. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid