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November 18, 2003


Notes from the President

I am happy to report that, when we rehearsed at last week's meeting (November 11), we looked and sounded like a real orchestra. The meeting opened with a little entertainment by Elise Maloof and another of Silvia Eberly's young students, and it was wonderful to see how relaxed and confident they were. Of course, it's great to see kids choosing the accordion; we need to figure out how to recruit more young musicians like these. They made a great audience, as well, as they stuck around for part of our rehearsal, cheering us on.

It continues to be a pleasure working with Dale Wise, the conductor for the December 7 concert -- and, in general, our mentor. Dale's school band experience certainly has come in handy; he knows how to get his way with us through humor.

Following the rehearsal, Mike Surratt demonstrated one of the ways he varies his music: by inserting relative major and minor chords. This is a very useful technique to learn. Mike also entertained us with stories about his early performing career playing music in bars. Apparently he was impressed with our accordion orchestra because he mentioned after the meeting that he might like to arrange a Christmas song in parts for our 2004 holiday concert. His advice for this year: memorize Silent Night so we all can keep our eyes on Dale.

Besides Mike, we were happy to have the president of the Maryland Accordion Club (MAC), Joe Fertitta, with us. MAC is planning to hold a holiday concert at its December 20 meeting, and we will probably organize a group to go up there, so let me know if you plan on attending. Check out the calendar on the WMAS Web site (www.washingtonaccordions.org) for more details about the MAC meeting.

Meanwhile, PRACTICE, MEMORIZE and ENJOY getting ready for the holiday concert. A concert poster/flyer is attached ; I encourage you to print it out and post it wherever you think people will see it, and/or distribute it to your friends and family. (If you have trouble with the file, let us know; we can send you a PDF.)

Also, don't forget to bring a dish to pass at the potluck dinner following the concert. It would be great if we musicians could focus on main dishes! Please plan to arrive at the church that day no later than 3:30, earlier if you can help with setup.

Remember that there is one last extra practice, without Dale, on Tuesday, December 2, at 7:30 p.m. at the church.

Some photos of Dale's accordion repair workshop will be posted soon on the Web site. At the workshop we worked on new member Elizabeth Nelson's accordion, which had lost many of its reeds into the bellows. Dale had us resetting the reeds, applying beeswax around them, "ironing" the beewax, and affixing new leathers. By Sunday evening, amazingly, the instrument was playable again. I know that at least some people who attended the workshop were eager to go home and try out their new skills; in any case, the whole weekend was a lot of fun.

Take Care,
WMAS President