anna and her accordion
anna and her new accordion
(click for larger image)


Accordion Aficionado
anna saccheri, essay
© 1994

      Two summers ago, delirious from a three month affliction of mononucleosis, I bought a 48 bass, red piano accordion. The woman who sold it to me was excited. She told me how happy accordion music made her and guaranteed me that if I was ever sad, I just had to play my accordion and it would make me happy. I was skeptical, but I smiled and nodded in agreement. I took my new accordion home and attempted to coordinate the right hand keyboard playing with the left hand bass buttons while controlling the airflow with the billows. It was difficult, but I kept with it. I practiced until my mom was driven nearly insane and I was condemned to play only at certain hours.

      The mother of one of my friends happily agreed to teach me, once she saw that I was serious about learning. She played magnificent music, and I was always awestruck with her talent. For the following year, I practiced religiously for an hour each day. I played well, and people began to like the music. I was pretty shy about my playing. Even though I received plenty of positive encouragement from my family and friends, I was still afraid to play around certain people. Once, at a school dance, the D.J. didn't show up and my friends convinced me to play my accordion. In the middle of a polka, I was confronted by a guy I barely knew who offered to throw my accordion off the edge of a cliff if I didn't stop. I guess accordion music doesn't make everyone happy. I played in the High School's winter and spring concerts, two consecutive Fourth of July Parades, and once inside a church (good acoustics). During a rehearsal once, a reed in my accordion broke and I couldn't play for awhile. It was fun prying the instrument open and seeing inside, but it seemed to take a millenia before my dad fixed it. I was glad once it was off the operating table and back in business. When I graduated from High School, I received a scholarship for lessons and went to an accordion camp to learn more things. Then, one day, my accordion teacher told me that she had taught me everything that she knew and couldn't teach me any more.
(click for larger image)

(click for larger image)
      Sometimes when I was angry or lonely I would play as loud as I could and try to bother someone. Only, later I found out that all the times I was trying to bother people, they weren't bothered--they were amused and entertained. Other times, people would see the giant case and ask me what it was. I always liked to tell them strange, unusual things, like "That's my suitcase, I'm moving out" or "No! Don't look in there! Whatever you do, DO NOT look in there!" I usually couldn't keep a straight face and convince them, so I would eventually end up having to lug out the ten pound button box and squeeze out a couple of tunes for them. When I played, I could see the same awestruck looks on their faces that I could remember having, when my teacher (or some other person) played. Some times, they would dance around crazily and sing random lyrics. Other times, they would sit contentedly and close their eyes with huge smiles plastered across their faces. Both ways, I knew they were delighted, and their happiness encouraged me to play more.

      A lot of people ask me if it is hard to play. In this case, I bluff. "Yes, it is hard to play and coordinate everything, but after awhile you get it." If they aren't convinced, I usually strap the accordion onto them and let them decide. Even when I see someone who has never played in his life trying to play something on the accordion, I have to smile. His attempt pleases me and, best of all, the look on his face amuses me.

    The woman who sold me the accordion was right; it does make me happy. The instrument, the music, and the musician are three simple elements that alone do not accomplish anything, but together create a masterpiece. My accordion makes me happy, it makes other people happy, it makes me feel like I am making other people happy. It's funny how the simple things in life can make you happy. Decisions made on the brink of insanity (after a long painful summer of mononucleosis, for instance) might end up making you happy for life.

lady of spain ring, cotati accordion festival 1998 (click for larger image)

the world's largest accordion band, 1998

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