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

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Religion Aside, Christmas Gains Popularity in Communist Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal 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.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid