No More Accordion Club Posts?

May 20, 2017

When I first found the Montreal Accordion club, I was very excited about it.  Here was the potential where I could speak to other accordionists, play with other accordionists, share and exchange.  I was quickly disappointed but decided to not judge too fast, so I went to several meetings and indeed, even paid the price for a year’s membership.  I saw the signs from the very first visit, but I tried to ignored them:

  • They meet late Wednesday afternoons at an Italian restaurant on Montreal’s east end.
  • The average age had to be mid-late 70’s and over 95% were retirees.  At age 56, I am easily the youngest participating member.
  • Heavy Quebec French influence with strong Italian undertones, which meant that if you were not playing French music and it was not Italian, they were clueless about anything else and did not appreciate other genres, and that is not an exaggeration.  Of itself, no biggie, but there doesn’t seem to be any desire to expand or introduce other genres.
  • The president himself is moving away from the accordion, preferring to move to his other passion, the saxophone.  It’s totally fine that he wants to move on to another instrument, but if you are a president of an accordion club, don’t make the sax your main and only instrument you play at the accordion meetings!
  • The 2 people that are slowly taking the position of the president are more clueless than the president, they prefer French country music… exclusively. And of the two, only one plays accordion, the other plays guitar.  Both very nice people, neither very good… lots of enthusiasm, but sadly, very limited tastes in music.

One could tell what the people attending were there to listen to.  When I played a strong march or tango, the applause was acceptable but weak.  This changed when I played any French or especially a Quebecois tune, the applause was appreciative.

I persevered.

At the Christmas event, I thought that there was little to “complain” about, since of course everyone would be playing Christmas music, right?  Most did, and like usual, our country duo played… English country music with lyrics converted to French, which honestly sounded a bit “wrong” if you knew the tune and how they butchered the lyrics to match the French language was less than amateur. 

The songs they did not butcher, they basically borrowed from someone else that converted English music to French lyrics.  But that’s not the point.  Beyond the overpowering favoritism (which is totally their right, of course), was the fact that I did not mind the French music, I liked it enough that several such songs are in a regular spot in my repertoire, but they are not my personal preferences and I did not want to be limited in my musical tastes.

So what was the moment where I became severely disheartened with the group?  That is easy to spot.

It was the moment that the president passed out a printout of a sheet of the 2017 year’s events.  I eagerly looked forward to the coming October, because as anyone even half aware of the accordion world knows, the MOST important event of the year that was totally accordion friendly was represented there… OCTOBERFEST!  This would be a great time to hear something different and I was going to take full advantage of it… or so I thought.

Hmmm… what’s this in the October spot??  Oh… look… it’s “Country night”.

That did it for me, I felt my heart drop.  My desire to no longer attend these events manifested and this along with the new job that really does take up my time and makes it impossible to attend the monthly events (they start at 5, but setup starts at 3-4pm and I get out of work at 5pm, and am home by 7pm on the best scheduled days.  On other days I am home past 10pm!), and so made the decision to slowly back away from this club a little easier.

So, why didn’t I speak out?  Easy, I know that when one is in a small minority, no one wants to hear your opinion.  I live in a province where I am in the minority.  I’ve been living this situation most of my life here in Quebec, I’ve had to fight tooth and nail to hold on to many things in my life in this environment, and I will be damned if I am going to need to fight over something every step of the way on a path that is supposed to be easy, that is supposed to be the very center of pleasure in my life and I will be damned if I need to live my accordion passion in this kind of smothering environment following along to someone else’s rules.

In that club, I was definitely in a minority of ONE.    I was the ONLY one that wants to hear German/Czech music, the only one that wants to hear classical music, that wants to hear things outside the Franco-Italian cultures.   I don’t necessarily mean that I never want to hear these styles of music, I just don’t want these things to be the ONLY things I hear, and they have proven that this along with “French country” is all anyone there wants to focus on.

I would rather leave the club and do my own thing alone than be forced to limit my way of being down to where someone else tells you how you have to be and what you must play… I want to be ME, not you or anyone else.  That is why the Montreal accordion club is more or less over for me, though I may visit once or twice a year just for the change.

This did not mean that the days of the accordion were over for me, of course not!  I would need to pursue other musical adventures and, I knew that I had to set other accordion goals to keep me happy because when I am happy, I want to play more and when I play more, I get better and when I get a little better, I get more pleasure from the accordion.

So, the next step is develop a plan to work on these little adventures and challenges and then move them from dreams to goals, goals to plans and plans to reality.  THIS makes me happy… now let’s make it happen!