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November 19, 2008


Meeting Notes

We started the November 16 meeting with business. Karen reminded everyone about the upcoming rehearsals and December 14 holiday concert. If you plan to play in the WMAS orchestra you must attend the rehearsals scheduled for November 23 at 7 pm, December 7 at 7 pm, and December 14 at 2 pm. Contact Joan Grauman, joangrauman@verizon.net, if you need sheet music.

We will need people to help set up before the concert and clean up after the potluck. We will need people to receive potluck dishes and get them ready to set out after the concert ends (Karen may be contacting you about this). And we need people to let us know if they plan to play in the concert.

The other order of business: in January we will need to elect new officers. Based on the “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” philosophy, and the fact that no one else has expressed interest in serving, the current officers are willing to stay on. Therefore the slate consists of Karen Malan-Uribe for president, Joan Grauman for vice president, and Mara Cherkasky for secretary-treasurer. The president appoints committee chairs, and the current ones – Peter DiGiovanni and Lee Paulson share membership duties – also have agreed to continue. All five form the WMAS Executive Committee which meets occasionally to plan programs and deal with whatever issues arise (meeting space, web hosting, etc.).

Following the business portion of the meeting Joan Grauman presented a workshop and conducted an orchestra rehearsal.

Joan Grauman’s Workshop Notes

I have repeatedly been asked certain questions about accordions over the last several years and thought that, since I was asked to fill some time at the meeting, this would be a good time to answer "Frequently Asked Questions."

1. How to hold the accordion and why: The black keys should be directly under your chin. In order to adjust the straps comfortably to bring the accordion into this position without the wide strap on the right digging into your neck, tighten the left strap to "pull" the accordion to your left, then OPEN, as much as possible, the right strap where it attaches to the accordion on the top (near your neck), then tighten it from the middle or the bottom until snug.

Wear a back strap to take weight from your shoulders and to help keep the instrument snug. Always have a back pad on the accordion to protect the bellows and to help keep the instrument snug against you.

Keep your bass strap tight for added bellows control. If you "bellows shake," your bass strap needs to be VERY snug.

2. You want a new accordion: What is appropriate for you? Musette? Dry tuned? Tone chamber? Using a 4/5 reed, full-size accordion as our starting point, I discussed the options. If you want to play mostly classical or jazz, or play in an accordion orchestra, a DRY TUNED instrument with a TONE CHAMBER would be a good choice. A dry tuned instrument has two middle reeds, one bassoon, and one piccolo reed. Tone chambers, which I described as the different placement of the reed blocks of usually one set of clarinet reeds and the bassoon reeds into the "chamber" allowing the air to move through another space or chamber. This gives the reeds a sweet, mellow tone. Tone chambers are also used in MUSETTE tuned accordions with 3 middle (or clarinet) reeds. One of the clarinet reeds will be in the chamber. If this musette instrument is not very "wet tuned (not too sharp)," it can be the best choice all around for an "all uses" accordion. Why is this? You can choose registers that leave out one of the clarinet reeds and this will sound closer to "dry." The tone chamber will "tone down" most of the registers because they use the clarinet reed and the bassoon reed. If you play mostly polkas or Irish, Scottish, German or French folk music, you might prefer an accordion WITHOUT a tone chamber that is a 3 middle musette instrument. These types of music sound amore authentic with the brighter sound rather than a mellow sound, so not having a tone chamber would give that bright sound.

3. Is the tone chamber the same thing as a MUTE? No. A mute is a "shade" that "pulls down" over the reeds that dulls the sound.

4. How to block the basses for shipping: The basses can "fall" if not properly secured when shipping for repairs or packing to place in cargo on a plane. Unscrew the bass strap, then, with a small screwdriver, carefully remove the screws that hold the bass plate on. When you remove this plate, be VERY CAREFUL not to dislodge the air button. Now, take your hand and lower all of the bass buttons. You will see, when you look at the bass section, just above the felt, a row of thin metal rods come down onto the felt. When you release the buttons, the rods go back up leaving a 1/4 inch space above the felt for you to place a narrow strip of folded "folder" or any cardboard that doesn't shed dust particles. This folded cardboard needs to be about 12 inches long and about 1/2 inch wide. With this in place, try to push down the buttons. They should not go down. Put back the plate and the basses are now "blocked," Always GENTLY remove and replace the screws so as not to enlarge the holes.

I also talked about flying with an accordion: which planes can hold accordions in the overhead, how to take an accordion apart to fly it in two suitcases (one as a carry-on), and other problems with flying and how to solve them, and which tools you should always have on hand. While I had the accordion bass side "open," I also demonstrated how to repair a "fallen bass." Please feel free to write to me, joangrauman@comcast.net, if you have more questions about any of the matters discussed and demonstrated at the meeting.



Rehearsal November 23, 7 pm

Rehearsal December 7, 7 pm

Rehearsal December 14, 2 pm

Concert December 14, 2 pm

We will be requesting a $7 donation at the door from nonmembers, so this will be a good time to get paid up on your dues ($20 individual, $30 family).

Please bring a dish for the potluck dinner following the concert.

Please volunteer to help set up before the concert and clean up after the potluck. It takes a lot of work to put on the concert, so we need everyone to pitch in. Thanks!

Please help spread the word about the concert; invite your friends, family, co-workers, neighbors, etc.


Here is the list IN ORDER for the WMAS Orchestra’s pieces for the concert:

Angels We Have Heard on High

O Holy Night

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing


Jingle Bells

Away In a Manger

We Three Kings

Auld Lang Syne

We Wish You a Merry Christmas

Attire: Please wear a black skirt or pants, and a white or festive top/shirt.