Written by: Faithe Deffner
Publication: Accord Magazine, USA. Reprinted courtesy of owner/editor Faithe Deffner. Back copies available.
Date written: 1980

... BEGIN IT. BOLDNESS HAS GENIUS, POWER AND MAGIC IN IT. ---- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

One can disagree fundamentally and vigorously with the concept of accordion contests as a tool of music education, but one cannot simply dismiss it without offering a viable substitute for its motivational success.

Psychology researcher Marilyn Machlowitz explains the phenomenon of procrastination in this way: "The farther a person is from the reward, the harder it is to self-motivate. This is why there is a reluctance to begin a task and interest grows as the end approaches."

The cosmic explanation is found in Newton's first law of motion, which says that the natural state of being is an inert one. So laziness is the triumph of nature over conscience.

Thus the accordion contest, at each level, is an invaluable catalyst, out-lining a specific task, prescribing a definite timetable, goading the participant on to completion and promising a tangible reward for successful participation. To paraphrase Goethe: Whatever you want to do, or dream of, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Do it now.

The essence of this message is demonstrated in the contest situation where the young musician is compelled to do it now.

In the design and construction of contests however, we must retain a thorough understanding of our commitment to achievement and success within the limited world of competition. Those who mastermind our contests should diligently strive to provide diverse and imaginative possibilities to challenge the creativity of accordionists.

Contests should back the common interests and goals, which pursue an orderly gradualism. Contests must recognize the instrumentalists' ambitions and capabilities. Contests must stimulate accordionists in their quest for a multi-faceted musical lifestyle that reflects their own individual statement.

We should not allow our contests to mirror angry reflexive actions rather than slower evolution of a significant stature. For example, original compositions without merit do not further the accordion's cause any more than transcriptions which are badly edited or unsuitable for the instrument.

Let us not underestimate the contest-festival's value as a fantastic ego building experience. An emerging accordionist must be infused with self-confidence. And, to hear and see ourselves in large numbers is surely inspiring! Such situations provide ideal opportunities to immerse ourselves in myriad accordion activities and to feel the pride of each other's achievements.

The contest environment can be very effective in vaccinating members of the accordion community against the contagion of the adversary (within our ranks as well as outside). At the same time, the festivities of a contest may introduce the accordion to the uninitiated or reinforce the accordion's position with those who have had previous exposure.

In this issue, Accord's feature article explores competitions, highlighting the pros and cons of the subject while reporting the viewpoints of knowledgeable members of the music world.

No matter what conclusions one draws, it is a fact that competitions and festivals put the spotlight on our instrument. It's up to the accordion community to make the show a hit.
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