My Secret Love...

by Kelly Ann Beaton

Okay,  I will let you in on a personal secret.  I love accordion music. I remember clearly when I fell in love with it. It was 1987 and I was an exchange student, learning French in northern Quebec.  It was my birthday and as I came down for breakfast, the owner of the house, Monsieur Dube, was sitting in a rocking chair with his accordion. He proceeded to play me a Quebecois song, Gens du pays. In that instant I fell in love with the accordion. Perhaps it was the generosity of someone actually taking the time to sing to me but the accordion became my friend.

No matter what circumstance, accordion music makes me smile or cry. So in 1999, I decided to change my relationship with the accordion and make it more intimate and decided to learn to play. So I called Tony’s Music Store, as he was the only store that specialized in accordion music.  In order to take accordion lessons, Tony interviewed perspective clients. So I put some lipstick on and showed up early for the appointment.  Tony, a small elfish-like man in his late 60s, met me at the door. He shook my hand and gestured to a chair across from his desk. His office walls were full of his students and him, at various stages of his career. I think there was even one with him and the Prime Minister of the day.  Stroking his chin, he said in an accent reminiscent of Marlon Brando’s in the Godfather, “so why do you want to play the accordion?” Sitting up straight I told him that I had always wanted to play either the piano or the accordion, as he taught both, I figured I would walk out with some course.  He shook his head in dismay and sighing he said “the piano is easy in the beginning but so hard at the end but the accordion, she is hard at the beginning but easy at the end.”  I nodded in agreement but realized I didn’t have a clue of the meaning of his comments.  With that he placed gingerly a ruby red accordion in my arms and said, “She is yours. Treat her kindly or else.”  Or else what, I thought. The course started the following night and by then I was convinced that I too would be like Tony, with my walls covered with photos of my playing, even for the Prime Minister.  Mary had a Little Lamb never sounded so sweet, at least to me. To my neighbours, not so much.

Unfortunately, my love affair with my red accordion ended as quickly as it started. A month later, I missed two classes in a row. As I showed up for my lesson, Tony walked in the room and did not sit down. Instead he said: “You have missed two classes. You are not serious and I do not teach people who are not serious.” He gestured for me to remove the accordion from my shoulders and return it to the case. He reached over and shut the lid and closed the clasps and said,”No more accordion for you.” I tried to explain but Tony would not have any of it. Heartbroken, I walked through the waiting room lined with 9 year old boys and a single girl; I smiled at the girl and gave her a thumbs up. At least she would get to play. 

Since that fateful day, there is not a day, where I can’t wait to hear accordion music and this week, I discovered a wonderful short film from the National Film Board of Canada, called The Necktie ).  Not only will you hear some wonderful accordion music, but it may remind you of the words of George Eliot who wrote: it is never too late to be what you might have.

photo of red accordion courtesy
photo of accordion girl courtesy prawnpie


  1. Kelly, what a fun post. I think that is so lovely that you're a fan of accordion music. I enjoy it as well - although I also love bagpipes - i think it's because they have such a melancholy sound. Too bad about Tony. He sounds like the Soup Nazi. ;) But who knows - maybe one day when you find the time you can go back for lessons. Thanks for sharing this with us. Cheers!

  2. Hello
    This is such an interesting post, not too many people appreciate accordian music. Now I grew up with it, my grandfather and his brothers had an old time band and they played...
    Brings back nice memories
    Thanks for stopping by the studio
    Have a great weekend

  3. A gypsy punk band I love called Gogol Bordello features an accordian, and I adore it. I'm glad you gave lessons a try - perhaps you weren't ready for it at the time. I've heard it's a very complicated instrument, so it may require more than one attempt. But it would definitely be worth it!

  4. I hope you'll go back to your lessons, Kelly. If you love it that much, playing for yourself would enrich your life.
    My sister's in her mid-fifties, and recently took up violin lessons. Another tough instrument, but I hope she keeps up with it too.
    That's one of my favorite quotes. Thanks for the reminder. :)

  5. One of my best friends used to play the accordian. When her children were babies (she had twins), she'd play them to sleep. I asked her recently if she still played, & she does not. A real loss since she was very good.

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