Greetings from your friendly WMAS scribe! We will not be meeting this month―our next meeting is September 21―so please do not show up at the church on the third Sunday of August and wonder where everyone is.
I hope you’ve been enjoying the summer!
Our last meeting, on July 20, featured a workshop by longtime member Yimeng Huang: “Tips for Becoming a Better Accordionist.” Yimeng learned to play the accordion as a teenager in China, mostly on her own. In 1985 she moved to the United States to study, and then took a job in DC, at a large international organization. She had long since put away her instrument but, like many of our members, took it up again several years ago. She was happy to learn about WMAS, where she met Frank Busso, Jr., the accordionist with the Air Force Strings, and began studying with him. Under Frank’s tutelage, Yimeng has won several awards in the AAA Festival Adult Solo competitions, including first place in Ethnic Solo (2010 and 2012) and first place in Open Solo (2013).
Given her experience, Yimeng thought it would be helpful to our members if she shared some of what she’s learned from Frank, including some of his ideas that she had originally resisted.
The workshop focused on the basics: timing, articulation (separating notes), left-hand playing, bellows control, and dynamics. For example, in a demonstration on articulation, Yimeng set her metronome to slow and played a difficult phrase over and over until her fingers learned to separate the notes and keep them even. Gradually she speeded up the metronome and repeated the exercise until she could play the phrase perfectly and at the appropriate tempo. A good metronome can be pricey but Yimeng also uses an app she downloaded to her phone.
Our members are not shy and, at Yimeng’s invitation, many chipped in with their own tips for becoming a better accordionist. The group tried out some sheet music Yimeng had provided, and she ended the workshop by playing a duet with Mara Cherkasky. Afterwards, Joan Grauman passed out more sheet music and conducted a play-along.
Thank you, Yimeng, for all the good ideas! This was a workshop that all of us, from beginner to expert, could learn from. Thanks go also to Jim Vandelly, Lee Paulson, and Mara for serving as greeters. In case you didn’t notice, they had not practiced together ahead of time, so this was an experiment. We’re always saying that greeting is a time to try out new material, and we mean it!
We’re grateful to JoAnn Pankow for taking care of the kitchen/refreshment responsibilities and to everyone else who contributes to our meetings’ success. Thank you!
On September 21 we will be hosting another guest-artist concert, this time featuring internationally recognized jazz accordionist Frank Petrilli. Frank’s warm style, skill, and wit will delight all, so please invite your friends and relatives for a wonderful afternoon of music. The attached flyer can be forwarded or printed out and mailed. Remember: because this is a guest artist we will be asking for an $8 donation from nonmembers.
Our greeter for the September meeting will be Pat Racioppa.