Inspired to take up the accordion

You're never too old.

In June 2017 we performed our very first concert in Wales. In the audience was Jean, the mother of a friend of mine who had come with her daughter. Jean had never played a musical instrument before but she was fascinated by the accordions and the sound that they made.

She asked if she could have a go on one in the interval so we all went through to the hall, sat her down and strapped her into the accordion. We explained the basics of how to use the bellows and how to get the notes to sound and, after a few minutes tentatively trying it out, she proceeded to play the National Anthem! The rapturous smile on her face was a joy to behold and she was totally smitten.

So much so that I had an email the next day from her daughter, asking where would be the best place to buy an accordion as Jean was absolutely serious that she wanted to carry on and learn to play properly. She did buy one, she organised lessons with someone in her area and joined a local accordion group and, 9 years on, she is still playing and enjoying every minute of it. Both she and all her family say that it was a completely life changing moment for her. Not only has it given her immense personal pleasure, but it has given her a totally new interest, she has learnt new skills, she now regularly plays music with other people and she has never looked back. I’m sure she won’t mind me saying this, but this is a lady who is now well into her eighties, who has found a whole new interest and a challenge and she is revelling in it. When we get to meet up we always play some tunes together and the delight on her face as she plays is wonderful.

To be able to showcase the accordion and what it can do, to introduce it to people who may never have seen one or heard one before, has always been one of the goals of who and what we are as an orchestra. It is lovely when people come up to us afterwards and say how much they enjoyed it all and that they didn’t know that accordions could sound like that or be played so quietly!! But Jean’s story is quite remarkable and she is an inspiration to us all.
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