Gary Dahl grew up in Seattle and started accordion lessons with Joe Spano at the age of 12. By age 16, Gary was playing professionally at dance casuals. The US Army was next for two years as a radio teletype morse code operator. Next was college at the University of Washington. Gary graduated in 1966 with a major in Business Administration and a minor in music composition and theory. During college, Gary started teaching accordion as a professional instructor at Joe Spano studios from 1960 through 1974. During that same period Gary gained his commercial pilot rating and his flight instructor and instrument flight instructor ratings with multi-engine aircraft. Gary met his wife Eloise during this time; she was a flight student. Gary entered the corporate sales and marketing world in 1974 because of the accordion's decline. He retired from corporate sales and marketing in 1990. During this time period Gary led various trios and quartets including a vocalist; they performed regularly at private clubs, hotels and the lounge circuit. Following that, Gary played private functions and provided private lessons for a full range of students, beginner through professional. In the late 1990's, Gary pioneered distance learning for the accordion, providing lessions to students across the counntry and including international students. In late 2017, Gary passed away at his home near Seattle.
Gary was very proud of his daughter Leesa who is a professional accordionist and pianist based in New York City. She has a masters degree in opera coaching and collaborative piano from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Currently based in New York City, Ms. Dahl has performed and coached at the Juilliard School, Manhattan School of Music, Hunter College, and the Opera Studio at Yale University to name a few.
Accordion Song BooksAccordionists familiar with Mel Bay Publications know that Gary Dahl was their primary author for accordion music books. There is a Gary Dahl author's web site within the main Mel Bay web site. Click on any book listed to visit that book's page.
How did Mel Bay and Gary Dahl meet? Gary knew Mel Bay had very few Accordion Books and simply wrote to Bill Bay with samples, suggestions and a tape. Bill Bay was impressed and promptly wrote back including a contract for the first book, Jazz Accordion Solos with an accompanying CD. This book quickly became a best seller with over 4,000 copies sold to date world wide -- and still selling! Similar successes have been realized with all of the books written and recorded by Gary Dahl, a dozen in total.
Gary's instructional books and song books contain critical fundamentals for playing the accordion that have never been addressed in books before. These tips have never been taught by most teachers. Both the First Lessons and Getting Into Accordion books teach all of these critical fundamentals; from when to 'lift off of a note' to the 'correct sitting position'. The Chord Melody Method for Accordion not only teaches one to play all types of chords 'at once', but teaches harmony and the proper use of those chords.