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 25 March 2005This weeks news | Past News  | Send news
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Accordion Jass Chord


Happy Easter to All Accordionists Around the World
    
 

Bernadette


What Future for the Accordion?
Open Letter To All Accordion Enthusiasts
by Beniamino Bugiolacchi

Your Comments are Invited for Publication
- Email to: aww@accordions.com

I would like to thank "Accordions Worldwide" for the opportunity to offer some thoughts regarding the future of music in general and that of the accordion in particular, an instrument which I learned to love and appreciate thanks to my position both as Director of the International Museum of the Accordion in Castelfidardo and as President of the Association of Producers of Musical Instruments "Music Marche".

I share the opinion of the sociologist Giuseppe de Rita who, during a recent meeting between the producers and distributors of Italian music instruments said:
"nowadays the prospects for music in general and for the accordion in particular are less than rosy - the falling of the birthrate and the progressive ageing of the population in western societies, being two important factors that have contributed to this problem".
 

James O Brien


De Rita also underlined in this meeting,
"that, a society:
- with an ever increasing number of elderly has a tendency to progressively diminish benefits aimed to the younger age groups;
- that does not consider the teaching of music at school essential for the cultural and artistic development of its students;
- that in the last three years (with the notable exception of few emerging countries) has diminished consumption of luxury goods and services (and musical instruments are part of this group);
- is a society that doesn't offer much encouragement to those involved in the production and promotion of musical instruments".

"We must be aware of these factors"
continued De Rita "otherwise one could think that it would be an easy task to re-launch this sector when in reality, the vital elements to encourage a recovery are all but missing."

 

 


Emerging economic countries such as China, Russia, Korea must be all too aware of the stagnant economic reality of the music sector in the western world. In the west we seem to be incapable of evolving, perhaps keeping old values and concepts in place in an economic and socio-political reality that is in continuous evolution.

Furthermore the unstoppable rise of the middle classes as the predominant force in the western world has meant that society has often lost touch with its own roots and traditions. Often incapable of elaborate, new and truly original musical languages, the tendency is often to look back at the past without a creative input, therefore falling into the "nostalgia" trap.
 

Excelser

De Rita also underlined problems related to the difficulty of making music and of encouraging the growth of the music sector "If society doesn't recognize the enormous social value of this art and discipline and its contribution to society at large".

We have to rediscover and appreciate once again the role that music has to play in modern societies otherwise it will be increasingly difficult to give the younger generations the right stimulus and encouragement to study and make music.

Nowadays, it has become harder to convince prospective students to take up learning traditional instruments such as the piano, the violin or the accordion.

Today youngsters often refuse to dedicate themselves wholeheartedly to the learning of an instrument because of the level of discipline and dedication required for such a task.

Furthermore, in today's music scene (the market being driven mostly by economic factors rather than artistic ones) exhibitionism, showing off, and eccentricity have became the most important elements upon which modern music is based. "Traditional music" instead seems to be incapable of stimulating and emotionally engaging the ever increasing standardized masses.
 
picchio

Society must therefore try to make the younger generations appreciate traditions and historic cultural values as well as reconciling them to the unstoppable progress of technology.

I proceed with my analysis by turning my attention to the accordion which, having started as a humble instrument deeply rooted in folklore music has, in the last 40 years, found a small niche within so called "serious music".

In the 150 years of its history, the accordion has often had to fight for its survival, constantly struggling against the current trends and fads of fashionable music.

Furthermore, the arrival of rock and roll in the beginning of the 1950's , brought sweeping and everlasting changes to popular music almost overnight, as young people enthusiastically embraced the new sounds and music trends. Modern music and the concept of making music for the younger generations changed forever. The accordion's appeal further diminished during this period while its share of the market rapidly eroded.
 


The accordion only just managed to survive the overpowering appeal of the electric guitar, keyboards and drums in the following decades thanks to a handful of accordion players who turned their attention to jazz, to the music of Astor Piazzola or returned to accordion musical roots by performing and recording folklore music.

But despite the evident decline in popularity, I'm certain that the accordion could return to play an important (if not prominent) role in modern music if all the operators directly interested in its survival and market expansion could adopt a common credible and efficient strategy.

 


In my opinion this strategy must contain the following elements:
- the organisation of shows dedicated to the promotion and development of the accordion;
- the participation of the accordion in a wider spectrum of musical genres;
- a fresh approach to the teaching of the instrument in schools and the aesthetic and technical improvement of the instrument.
 

Fisitalia black

As for the organisation of shows, festivals and competitions in particular, some reflection is needed. The competitors are often treated as numbers, and the final scores don't reflect the candidate's merits but are often influenced and predetermined by the judges personal preferences and by the pressure of the various sponsors.

Moreover students should be encouraged to work hard to improve themselves, by confronting and stimulating the listeners with their personal choice of music rather than being often obliged to perform pieces of music chosen by an often older, staid jury - pieces difficult to perform and often incomprehensible to the public at large.

 


Secondly, nowadays young musicians prefer to play together, share their experiences and emotions with each other and favor creativity. In my view we should favor the participation of bands in competitions rather than virtuoso soloists whom are often perceived as being rather static and outdated.

We should, in other words, learn to entertain more because the public is used to watching live television performances where communication and excitement are vital factors.

Appreciating the accordion in context with other instruments, would not only help to considerably raise its profile but would also encourage dialogue regarding the instrument, and in doing so would help the accordion out of the ghetto to which many musicians and musicologists have relegated it.

 

Benetoux


Thirdly, we must reconsider and update the teaching curriculum and methods connected to the learning of the accordion in schools. Children are increasingly influenced by mass media. The music they are exposed to from an early age, thanks to television, the internet and other media, is a million miles away from the type of music they have to learn from their teacher when they first take up the accordion.

Are pupils conscious of this dichotomy? How can they possibly engage positively with the instrument if they perceive its studying as an extension of the normal school hours? Would it not be better to perhaps engage the student with the learning of pop tunes performed by their idols and then move gradually to the studying of more 'serious music' once the student has learned to play and appreciate the instrument?

 

Gary Darven


Finally, our friends the manufactures should turn their attention to the manufacturing process of the instrument. Research and investment in lighter more sophisticated materials should substantially contribute to lower the weight of the instrument.

Furthermore, in my opinion, a collaboration between the producers and designers is desperately needed to improve the aesthetics of the instrument to bring it into the 21st century.

We need, therefore, to open up a global dialogue on the points I have raised, between all those operating in the world of the accordion to look for practical solution to these problems.
 

Fisitalia blue
 

The accordion is going through an identity crisis. New ideas and enthusiasm are needed to face up to the problems we need to solve in order to put a stop to the current crisis. Certainly technology and globalisation should help us to kick start this debate.

My reflections and ideas might seem obvious for some, even laughable for others, but I hope that they will serve as a stimulus to help start a much needed debate on the subject. Let's exchange and confront our ideas freely and without rhetoric. Let's roll up our sleeves and start working together.

Beniamino Bugiolacchi
Your Comments are Invited for Publication - Email to: aww@accordions.com
 
Gary Dahl
 

Accordions Worldwide Comment:
Many thanks to Beniamino
Bugiolacchi for this important and thought provoking paper. We ask readers for their comment and debate about ways to reverse the world wide trend of smaller numbers of beginning accordionists. Many accordion factories in various countries have stopped in recent years, production numbers are severely reduced and this dangerous trend shows no sign of reversal.

In having this online debate, we do not wish to diminish the important efforts of professional accordionists, entertainers, artists, university tutors, teachers, publishers, festival organizers and manufacturers. We do however, wish to positively address this serious world wide trend, looking for positive ideas and solutions for the betterment of our beloved instrument.

Your comments will be published in the next 7 days on this page. Allow about 24 hours for publication. Do not worry if your English is not perfect - we can edit it if you ask and have you OK the editing before publication. We invite your participation.

Harley Jones
Director
Accordions Worldwide
Your Comments are Invited for Publication - Email to: aww@accordions.com
Ángel Luis Castaño
 

Comment by:
Boki K. Cvetkovski - USA (Edited)

Hello to all accordionists. I would like to thank Mr. Beniamino Bugiolacchi for all the points that he addresses in his letter and would like to offer my thoughts on the matter. I live in the United States and have had the opportunity to work with one of the greatest teachers of all time, Lana Gore. Over the years, she has been constantly introducing the accordion to pupils that at first began on the piano, but after a while they loose interest maybe because of the fact that they need to dedicate time after school, or maybe because it is not popular, or "cool" to play the accordion among their peers, or maybe a combination of both. However, what I see in this Country's youth is a lack of discipline and respect towards everyone, especially their parents. How would a child that does not respect a parent's will in every day events respect their parents wish to play the accordion? I remember, as a child I wanted to quit taking lessons, but out of respect for my father I kep! t going, I kept practicing, until it eventually grew on me. Thanks to my father, I now love the accordion.

The second issue that I would like to address is aiming towards the parents that have developed such respect towards their children. In the U.S., mostly everything is viewed from an economical point, thus,once they hear the cost of an accordion they encourage their children to actually switch to a more popular/ less expensive instrument. Think about it, on can purchase a great electric guitar or a complete drums set for bellow $1,000, not to mention band instruments such as the clarinet, the saxophone, the trumpet ... Why would a parent invest in a smaller, less expensive accordion just to find out that after a certain period of time they have to purchase a professional, full size accordion? With the cost of such an instrument one can purchase all the necessary materials to open a small production studio, or purchase a variety of guitars. In addition, some would add to this that the accordion can compare to the violin in the pricing, the average price for! a good violin is between $10,000 and $20,000 - for a professional, but the fact is that you can earn that money back from playing in orchestras, something that the accordion is not part of. The bottom line is that the accordion is extremely expensive in comparison to the other popular instruments.

I would like to thank Mr. Bugiolacchi for starting something very crucial for the accordion, and would like to thank Accordions Worldwide for giving the opportunity to everyone to express their thoughts, as I did today.

Sincerely, Boki K. Cvetkovski
 
Gary Dahl
 

Comment from Jared Claxon: Edited
Hello, My name is Jared Claxon and I am a 16 year old accordionist from Lake Helen, Florida USA.
None of my peers in my school can tell me any of the famous accordionists except for "Weird Al" Yankovic who has done more for the accordion community in the last twenty years than anyone. He broke the barrier and brought the accordion into a whole new genre, Rock and Roll. I personally play only rock music on the accordion.

Accordionists just need to move ahead and play rock on the accordion, tell you what the accordion sounds really good when hooked up to a guitar's distortion pedal or wah wah pedal. .........(Its a) wonderful instrument that I have devoted my life to.

Sincerly
Jared Claxon
 
Charnwood


Buongiorno.
Ho letto la lettera aperta del Dott. Bugiolacchi, e concordando pienamente con quanto affermato vorrei semplicemente aggiungere:

1) Sarebbe auspicabile una leggera diminuzione oltre che del "peso"anche del "prezzo" di tali strumenti che a certi livelli sono molto costosi, tenendo conto che il Fisarmonicista cresce con lo strumento, e che nel corso degli studi è costretto a cambiarlo spesso, specialmente se inizia in tenera età.

2) Favorire la produzione discografica, che in Italia è agli ultimi posti, e incentivare i concorsi, che negli ultimi anni hanno subito una drastica riduzione, legata a certe corremti di pensiero che vedono il concorso come dannoso per allievi e insegnanti.

Grazie per lo spazio !

English translation coming shortly.
 

Benetoux
 

Comment from Gary Dahl:

It doesn’t take a long dissertation to analyze the real cause of the accordion’s decline from the 60’s and on. The real cause was the lack of teachers able to teach how the accordion can contribute to any pop/rock/country group. It will not be an advantage however if the student accordionist is missing the ‘role model’‘ teacher Also, chord melody knowledge for 99.999% of the accordion population was missing and is still missing today.

The gifted student however, was able to easily switch over to piano, organ and keyboard on their own in spite of extremely unqualified teaching. The sad fact is they could have used the accordion but didn’t have any role models...it was just easier to use organ and piano from existing role models. Accordion amplification systems were also in the dark ages in respect to the volume needed to contribute".
 
Benetoux
 

Bernadette Conlon - Australia: Edited

Sadly, interest in the accordion has dwindled to a minimum. I now run an accordion orchestra, which is more or less holding a lifeline to the few accordionists we still have. I can encourage them to play and practise, bringing some out of retirement, as well as encouraging some youngsters.

….. I blame lack of parental support. When I was learning, my parents devoted their time to taking me to music lessons and to concerts, encouraging me to play hours on end and no, I can’t say that it was all fun. However, I now thank my parents for their legacy.

…… Many orchestras, who will be open minded enough to include an accordion in one of their programs are intimidated by the huge hiring fees asked by some publishing houses. These works need to be more accessible to both soloists and orchestras.

… It was suggested that we should start by teaching pop music. This works beautifully in theory; ……however much of it is too intricate for a first lesson. However, I integrate it, whenever possible, into my teaching material.

…. we need some star performer to hit the charts with the accordion, and not as a one off freak, with one song, before disappearing. What about attacking the kindergarten age group? Here, you have a group of the most impressionable people possible.

There are children’s entertainment groups of singers, backed, sometimes, by a pianist, sometimes now, by a synthesiser. If we could integrate the accordion more fully, include it in the new picture books and make it as much a part of everyday life, or more so, than any other instrument, maybe we could find a level footing.
 
Gary Dahl
 

Comment from Maria

Please join me with this one. If you sense my heart is crying, you understand. That we see Accordion make an ascension, is my aspiration. Miles Davis said: "If anyone wants to keep creating, they have to be about change."

The stark ‘truth’ is… we ‘people’ at a very young "age" get a mind-set … and then find it difficult to deal with what’s new… which is another way of saying… people find it hard to accept change, to deal with change, to grasp what change presents them with…. Or, to say it even another way, we find it difficult to get out of the status quo box… These are the austere realities that face and challenge us accordion teachers….

Could I ask you… Do you think the majority of our teachers are ready for the 21st Century? Ready for the new technology that’s before us, now? Are YOU, perchance, using it? Do you think the majority of us are upgrading our Presentations and riding the crest of the wave (or are many (or most) of us slipping into a stagnant backwater?) A better job as Teacher and a better job as a business person can be done, if we can get our flock to shake off their apathy and see beyond the trees and behold the forest.
Visual, (with audio of course,) is replacing and displacing the conventional ‘written word.’

Thanks to the Internet and a world-wide marketing outlook … there are now innumerable ‘companies’ in cyberspace selling everything from nuts & bolts to Viagra to earth-moving equipment… to the world! AND WE CAN DO IT TOO ! And it costs NOTHING, or at the most, a few cents. Many web sites are hoisted free of charge … We accordion teachers have to awaken and grasp the new technologies and new marketing opportunities and use them! Accordion needs pushing! It needs to be taken out of the ‘old people’s instrument’ mould, the ‘polka instrument’ mould, and shown to be the beautiful and versatile thing it is.

Have you thought about, have you considered, do you know? ~ That we can produce a CD-ROM or a DVD on home equipment in less than a minute and for less than one dollar…? All of us should be grasping this new technology and using it to the max… for the benefit of the instrument, for our students, and for ourselves!
 
Benetoux
 

Let me explain:

All you have to do is set up a camCorder at home, stand in front of it, record a ‘teaching’ session, transfer it to a Master and then make CD-ROM or DVD copies ad infinitum on an ‘as needed’ basis! For less than a dollar a copy! And you can sell these for $15.00 - $20.00 each! To the world, thanks to the Internet; to our students; to participants at Workshops; and at wholesale to music stores.

RE WORKSHOPS Something has to be done to improve the quality of Workshops. I have attended W/shops and at the end have heard people say "Well, I wonder what that was all about…" What has usually happened is, the Presenter lost focus and rambled. It was neither about ‘me arse nor me elbow’ … We have to do better than this!

Workshop Presenters should be required to ‘film’ (camcord) their Workshops ahead of time and have copies available on CD-ROM or DVD so participants at the Workshop can purchase them and have something meaningful to study and work with when they get home, ~ instead of the sheet of paper with a few lines on it which gets to mean nothing 3 weeks later.

Teachers and Workshop Presenters, armed with this material don’t have to wait for a Workshop to ‘sell their stuff’ – they can advertise it to the world on the Internet! Organizers who sponsor Workshops should INSIST that their Presenters have discs (CD-ROM or DVDs) available for purchase at the Workshop after the session. This will replace the arcane paper hand-outs ~ and Convention attendees buying a CD or DVD of the Workshop, at the Workshop, will go home with something they can really benefit from in the weeks and months ahead… making their sojourn to the Convention really worth their while.

In this, this exciting New Era, Teachers and Workshop presenters should in fact have several ‘lectures’ on different topics, on CD or DVD, to sell to their students and workshop attendees. Just to hand out a piece of paper with a few lines on it, in this day and age… is simply NOT GOOD ENOUGH.

TONY LOVELLO is one of the forward-thinking Teachers who has made a number of Video-tapes on his topics. He sells them at Conventions and on the Internet. At the last Convention in Dallas he sold out all the stock he brought! The only change Tony needs to make is that he should be using the format of CD-ROM or DVD rather than video tape.

Video tapes and VCR machines are on the way out. CD-ROMs and DVDs are buzzing these days… they offer many more advantages. They are smaller and easier to store, no tape to get chewed up, producers can make copies of a 60 minute presentation in less than 30 seconds, for less than one dollar! Teachers/Workshop Presenters can produce stuff on every-day home-burning equipment and don’t have to invest in an inventory… copies are made in the twinkling of an eye and on an ‘as needed’ basis…

WHAT TO PRODUCE Don’t waste time producing a How To Play Accordion Instructional … there are enough of those out there already! What is needed is specialized topics… How to play Accordion by Ear; How to play Jazz and Blues on Accordion; How to pretty up your accordion playing by using modern chords; how to improvise on your accordion… the list is endless.

 
Accordion Jass Chord


THERE IS NOTHING LIKE THIS AVAILABLE ON THE MARKET! Go to the Internet and in a Search Engine search for (example) How to play Blues on Accordion. Or How to Improvise on Accordion, etc. etc. You wont get a single response. ! The ONLY material you can find is about ~ how to play piano accordion; or Cajun accordion.. or Irish accordion. THAT'S ALL ... go do a search and see for yourself.

I’m asking you to get fired up and catch a glimpse of what life in this exciting New Era is offering! What I’m showing you here is rapidly becoming the norm in other fields. I recently attended a ‘health’ lecture and after the lecture a CD-ROM was available of the lecture… just about every participant at the lecture, including myself, bought a copy. (When she’s not lecturing, she’s selling her stuff on the Internet.)

We accordion teachers have to change our modus operandi and stop sitting around pretending it’s business as usual in 2005 ... It’s not!

I'm asking you to join with me in launching a drive to popularize our instrument. Join me in marketing to the thousands of wannabee players out there … ALL OVER THE WORLD … via the Internet … who are hungering for specialized tutorage. They don’t want another ‘how to play accordion’ book! They want specific information : how to play gypsy jazz; they want to learn modern bass patterns; they want something on CBA… there is nothing modern out there, in English, for CBA… did you know that? They want to know how to accompany a singer, on accordion…

And NO they don’t want a ‘book.’ They want to watch VISUAL INSTRUCTION and to learn by watching, not by giving themselves a headache trying to follow written music.

To you who are also Artistes…who play gigs … you have music CDs. You need to have some CDs or DVDs on the topic subjects suggested, as well. You are becoming aware this very moment of a whole ‘library’ of possible niche-market specialized topics you can produce … they are arising in your mind right now as you read this!
 

James O Brien


You are playing a gig somewhere … people hear you playing … Someone comes and asks you… where did you get those pretty riffs and runs from ? ? ? You should be able to say… I have a DVD right here showing you exactly how to play them! … Collect his 15.00 or 20.00 … and send the happy man along. You’ll be feeling irie that you helped somebody, you’ll be feeling smart because you just made yourself 19.00 clear profit … and the lady will waltz home with a smile on her face because she was able to get something she wanted….

If this communication should have a name, what would it be? Awaken to 21st Century techniques? Updating our teaching methods to meet the New Era? Making money on the Internet with Workshop topics ? ??? ??? (Give it the name you think is appropriate!)

Miles Davis said: "If anyone wants to keep creating, they have to be about change." We in the Accordion World have to acknowledge change and BE WILLING to embrace the new possibilities, the wider possibilities, the new technologies….. AND USE THEM!

Do think about these things, my friend.

Perhaps you may initially suppose these ideas are too avant guarde ... THEY ARE NOT! The New Era is here! To 'film' a lecture on camcorder, in your home, transfer it to a Master and burn CDs or DVDs ... is quick, cheap, marketable and as easy as kissing the back of your hand. Let us bring accordion and accordion teaching into the 21st Century with methods… innovative methods … that have not been available before … but which are right in our hands, NOW.

Don’t trample upon these pearls…

Thanks for listening to me!
Maria (Cordoba)

 

picchio


Artists at The Frankfurt Music Fair

Jon Hammond - Excelsior stand
Pino Di Modugno / Beltuna Stand
Vincenzo Abbracciante / Borsini Stand 3.1 H 14
Jean Louis Noton / Cavagnolo/ " RITTER FRANTZ " 3.1 H 16
Jean Marc Fabiano/ Ballone Burini Stand
Musictech/ PAD. 3.1 Stand H 24 artist - Michelantonio Norcia.
Intermusik Zeitung, Halle 3.1 Stand H 27

Accordions Worldwide Europe Manager:
Holda Paoletti-Kampl / Ancona Promuovo Stand

 

Bernadette

CD Review


A new CD Review of Various artists. Review by Paolo Picchio.
Lips


New & Updated Sites

Gary Daverne has three CDs of his compositions released, available for purchase online.
 

Fisitalia black


Vassily Glubochenko - composer, arranger, performer and scientist. A new site selling his compositions and arrangements, esheet format, able to be emailed to your computer. Purchase with credit card. Samples of the music are on the site.
 


John Macdonald - Accordion recording artist, famous for his Scottish music. Over 48 previous CD and LP releases. His latest CD "Years Apart" is available for purchase with credit card. Sound samples on the site. Enjoy his mastery of the accordion.
 

    
Edition Harmonia

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