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April 29, 2007



Meeting Notes

Jim Vandelly presented an amusing and informative workshop at the April 15 meeting. His handout, enhanced with notes taken at the workshop (numbers 2-15), is reproduced below.

Emergency Repairs on Accordions of All Sizes
By your humble servant Jim Vandelly
April 15, 2007

Disclaimer: The methods below reflect the opinion of the presenter, not real repair technicians, and no liability is assumed by Mr. Vandelly, his attorneys, his CPA, or relatives in perpetuity, for following these instructions. Leave tuning to a qualified quack.

Useful items: tools, junk, steady nerves. REMEMBER: It’s just a box!
· A kit of micro-sized screw drivers

· Small needle-nosed pliers (one with a right-angle “nose” – like my father’s)

· A roll of masking tape (blue type preferred)

· A can of spray glue (available at fabric stores)

· A yard or less of black speaker cloth (the stretchy kind) – used for replacing the treble screen if damaged, or to improve sound

· A pencil with the softest lead (#1 or soft printed on pencil)

· A small pliers that looks like a small wire-cutter

· A sheet of paper – for wobbly key repair

· Pieces of film negatives for use on internal reed leathers

· A sheet of thin felt (for repairs to pallets – those little hammers that lift up and down)

· Leathers: If you are lucky enough to find an old accordion at a yard sale that is NOT in playable condition, take it apart and save pallet-heads, screws, the U-shaped chrome attachments that hold the straps to the accordion, and any other pieces that could be scavenged for repairs to YOUR accordion.

· A roll of two-sided tape for quick repairs of leathers on the pallets (not for the inner leathers on the reed blocks!)

· A bicycle tube of the size used in the thin tires of a racing bicycle – for use on straps to prevent scratches to the body of the accordion.

· Two seatbelt protectors (these can be purchased at Wal-Mart. They are about 8 inches long and wrap around the seat belts to protect the neck and shoulders from seat-belt irritation) for use on large buckles to prevent scratching accordion, and for comfort along rib cage.

· An Rx of Valium (optional). Always check with your doctor before taking any prescription drug. Never share prescription drugs with friends or family members. See above disclaimer.

Store your accordion in a room that is not too dry or humid, hot or cold. The little moisture-eating packets that come with pills, peanuts, etc., can serve the same purpose in the accordion case.
After playing for a long time, keep your accordion out of the case for a while to air out.
When traveling, place your accordion case face down on the backseat, and hold it in place with a seatbelt.
Place a tiny bit of soap on the pins when you put them back in the accordion. The soap seals the holes and helps the pins slide more easily.
A strip of photographic film can be taped against a leather to hold it in temporarily.
Save the tiny screws from an old computer to use for accordion repair.
Save pieces of leather to replace leathers in your accordion.
Put soft Velcro pads on the corners of your accordion to protect it when you bang into doorways.
Fisher’s Hardware in Springfield, VA, has everything.
Don’t use WD-40 on the accordion. It attracts dust.
Put the soft side of a piece of stick-on Velcro on the bottom of the bellows strap to protect your clothing.
Pull off your keyboard maybe once a year and dust underneath it.
Wash your hands before playing your accordion.
When traveling, pack foam between the reed blocks on the inside, also tape all the bass buttons in the OUT position.

After the workshop, Jim handed out sheet music for a Russian song he translated as “The Little Doan Tree in the Urals” (also known as “Marushya”), and the group played it together.

Afterwards, several people performed. Joyce Palmer’s new CHAOS group played a couple of pieces that they’ve been rehearsing for an event at Congressional Cemetery. Kevin Haiou Fu played “Lady of Spain,” “Cuckoo,” and “La Paloma.” Ken Kunec played “Carwash Blues” on the guitar, and then “Let Me Call You Sweetheart” and “She’s the One for Me” on his loaner Titano. Jim Vandelly and Peter DiGiovanni finished out the afternoon with “The Moon Shines,” “Podgorka,” “My Porch,” “La Golondrina,” and other pieces on bayan and accordion.

Next Month

At the May 20 meeting, John Giunta will present a workshop on exercises to improve your playing. This workshop will be for any person interested in better breathing, concentration, muscle flexibility and strength; it will be helpful for the accordionist and for other instrumentalists as well. The material comes from the practice of yoga and meditation and will be for people of all fitness levels. We will be sitting in chairs or standing for these exercises. Dress in loose comfortable clothing, ready to move. Learn more at www.SpecialMind.com.


Several events were announced:

Jeff Krulik’s documentary The Legend of Merv Conn, Friday, April 20, at 2 pm at the AFI Silver Theatre in Silver Spring.

Stas Venglevski and John Simkus in concert, Sunday, April 22, at 3 pm, at the Masonic Temple in Silver Spring.

A Saengerbund event Friday, April 21.

And a Washington Balalaika Society concert Saturday, May 5, 7:30 pm, at Kenmore Middle School, in Arlington. Also Sunday, May 6, 3 pm, at the Jewish Community Center in Rockville. More information and tickets at www.balalaika.org.

More information on these events is/was on the WMAS Web site calendar.