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My old friend the button accordion

When I started playing clawhammer banjo, I fell hard for it and very quickly it dominated the music I played to the point where my old accordions lay quiet. I really never gave it a second thought – until recently. I’ve been missing the button accordion, the sounds it makes, how it feels to play it. This morning I picked up one of my accordions and put it on. How do you play this thing?

I used to know so many tunes on it, and I sat there trying to draw them out of my memory. The good news is the music comes back. My fingers, which have become fairly adept at finding the notes on my banjo, were tentative, but soon I was making music. Managing the air was still second nature. I started remembering bits and pieces of tunes I used to play. I think I can get back my chops fairly quickly with a little effort.

The button accordion uses different muscles than the banjo. You wouldn’t think that is a big deal, but after playing for 45 minutes this morning, a number of muscles were complaining. Back when I played accordion every day that never happened. It would have been better had I not stopped along the way to learn banjo, but I know I needed that focus to learn a new instrument.

Now I’m starting fiddle, continuing to learn banjo tunes, and yet I want to get back to playing accordion too. My first thought is I haven’t time for all that among various other projects I have going – including making paintings for my next exhibition. I guess I’ll have to organize my time better.


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