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.
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

Missouri Town Braces for Possible Racial Unrest

Situation in Ferguson hinges on whether white police officer will be indicted for August shooting death of unarmed black teen; decision could come Monday More

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of 1930s Deadly Famine

President Poroshenko compares Soviet-era ‘genocide’ to current tactics of pro-Russia rebels in Ukraine's east More

S. Philippines Convictions Elusive 5 Years After Election-related Killings

Officials vowed to deliver justice as the nation marked the anniversary of the country's worst political massacre that left 58 dead, more than half media 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.
Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Faminei
X
Daniel Schearf
November 23, 2014 4:32 PM
During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video Law Enforcement, Activists in Ferguson Agree to Keep Peace

Authorities in Ferguson, Missouri, say they have agreed with protest leaders to maintain peace when a grand jury reaches its decision on whether to indict a white police officer in the shooting death of a black teenager. Ferguson, a suburb of St. Louis, has been the scene of intermittent violence since the August 9 shooting intensified long-simmering antagonism between the police and the African-American community. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid