The Carleston Accordion Program emphasizes knowledge of the piano keyboard, music theory, and music appreciation -- all essential elements of instrumental and vocal music programs. This knowledge promotes participation and personal success in other music programs students will encounter later in their academic careers.
Using piano accordions in the elementary music classroom allows students to learn together, play together, and perform together. It also fosters personal musical growth that will follow them throughout their academic years. Unlike piano and keyboard labs, ensemble training with the piano accordion offers performance opportunities like choir and band programs or (even better) WITH choir and band programs!
The history of the accordion spans over 150 years. The instrument is recognized worldwide in all forms of music from classical to folk. Here in Texas, accordion-rich Tejano, Conjunto, & Norteno music as well as Cajun, Creole, & Zydeco dominate the popular cultural music scenes. The accordion remains a central element in the music and culture of most immigrant groups to Texas -- Argentinian, African, Central American/Colombian, Chinese, Czech, French, German, Italian, Jewish, Korean, Mexican, Polish, Slovak, and Spanish. Accordion competitions and festivals held locally, nationally, and internationally are well-attended and growing in popularity. Musicians from Asian, Russian, and European backgrounds dominate the international competition scene.
For further reading, see Accordion: The Versatile Musical Instrument by Rebecca Ratliff
Why The Accordion?
- The keyboard layout is the most logical for teaching musical understanding.
- The accordion is the best choice for teaching a keyboard instrument in a general music education space.
- Accordions are portable and wireless. Students can use in the classroom, on the stage, and in the community.
- They are culturally-relevant: Tejano, Cajun, Zydeco, Czech, German, Irish, Scottish, Italian, French, and increasingly Popular Music.
- Accordions are social – they play well in ensemble.
- Accordions are preferable to recorders because a student can instantly play EVERY NOTE. There are no complicated fingerings to learn. Accordions aren't too loud. The disadvantage is that students don't have an instrument to take home. Many students have access to a piano or an inexpensive keyboard for home practice.
- Perfect sound, every time. Just press the button and squeeze. This is in contrast to beginning band and orchestra where the player has to work toward a decent sound. Accordions sound great from the beginning.
- While singing is a regular activity in music class, I chose to do accordion as the applied music over choir because I wanted the ensemble to be available to all students. Elementary choirs often feature the top 20% “talented” students. I wanted an ensemble in which everyone can participate fully, even those who have trouble singing and matching pitch.