Gary Dahl was born in 1937, grew up in Seattle, Washington and started playing the accordion at the age of 12. Gary studied with one of the Northwest's premiere accordionists, Joe Spano. By age 16, Gary started playing professionally, and was well known in the Seattle area. At first, Gary performed as a solo accordionist but later realized that he enjoyed leading various trios and quartets. Whether playing solo or with one of his groups, Gary's performances entertained audiences at many venues including private and corporate events, night clubs, and even a few major hotel chains.
Gary won numerous awards in his early years as a performer. Gary's tenure as a professional accordion instructor started during 1960 at Joe Spano Studios where he continued to teach until 1974. It was during this time that Gary served his country and attended the University of Washington to study music composition and theory. With his degree in hand and the accordion declining in popularity, Gary also earned his flight instructor credentials. Gary could now provide for his new family and begin charting a path that would benefit the Accordion Community more than he could have ever imagined!
Pioneering Distance Learning — The Music EducatorDuring the 1990's, Gary pioneered what would become one of his greatest assets for the Accordion Community—Distance Learning. Students from the US and abroad would send Gary a cassette tape containing their accordion performances. Their accordion performance would be critiqued by Gary, as he paused the tape to add his comments, suggestions, and instruction. What later would be called the student lesson, was merely a cassette tape containing all of Gary's comments and even recorded demonstrations of how the student could correctly play or improve their own accordion performance. For the first time, a student could take notes, listen repeatedly, and hone their skills from the convenience of their home! The modern accordionist no longer had to worry about a lesson interfering with their job or their precious family time. As time progressed and technology improved, a student now records their lesson with a digital recorder or computer. Gary's distance learning method is successful for both the beginning student or the seasoned professional looking to further their education of the accordion. These same students have won national and state accordion competitions with some achieving professional status.
Accordion Song BooksMany accordion players often ask how Gary and Mel Bay started their musical journey together. While trying to find some quality accordion music arrangements for his students, Gary discovered that Mel Bay had very few offerings for the Accordion Community. Having already embarked upon the journey of creating his own high-quality arrangements, Gary simply wrote a letter to the company that included a few samples and suggestions included on a cassette tape. Bill Bay who was the recipient of Gary's package, was very impressed and promptly sent Gary a letter that also contained a contract for the first book, Jazz Accordion Solos. This book, which also contains a CD performance of each song, quickly became a best seller. Currently, over 4,000 copies have been sold world-wide and the sales continue! Similar successes have been realized with all of the books written and recorded by Gary Dahl which now include a total of one dozen.
All of Gary's instructional and song books contain the critical fundamentals that an accordion player needs to learn to make their performances successful. These books include the First Lessons and Getting Into Accordion series and progress through the Chord Melody Method for Accordion that teaches harmony and the proper use of chords.
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.
Solo Arrangements and eBook CollectionsGary's professional music career lasting over six decades resulted in an impressive body of work including hundreds of individual arrangements and ten eBook collections. These popular arrangements are harmonically and melodically correct, show the power and beauty of the accordion, and will challenge beginning, intermediate, and advanced accordion players. Each of Gary's arrangements came from his heart and offers a true musical experience that should be encountered by anyone who loves and enjoys playing the accordion!
Gary passed away peacefully in his home near Seattle with his beloved wife Eloise by his side late at night on December 1, 2017. Gary had recently celebrated 80 years of a wonderful life!