Which instrument to bring? They all hate to be left behind. “Take ME! Take ME!” I’ve lugged digital keyboards around when a tough performance deadline is coming up. But I like to travel light. Last year I brought the mandolin along to our week in Maine. I’ve played it since I was 13, but not professionally, and it sometimes gets neglected for months, and it was a pleasure to spend quality time with an old friend. This year, with apologies to everyone else on the lake, I brought the accordion, which gets less attention than my main ax the piano until a round of Buskers gigs approaches on the calendar.
Some people like to do jigsaw puzzles or play board games of a quiet lakeside evening, but figuring out new things on an instrument is my puzzle-solving fun. Because I am self-taught it's very much like working on a jigsaw puzzle without seeing the picture on the cover of the box–all the more so as you can’t see what you are doing playing accordion (unless you look in a mirror, which I sometimes do when confused). This week I made good progress on the mysteries of the bass buttons; learned some more complex patterns–walking lines and funky patterns. And I was relaxed; there were no distractions; a good (self)Teachable Moment.
Editor's Note: [They call this practicing, I believe].
Now I'm back home; the Buskers are in town for a couple of shows; and when I picked up the accordion at today’s rehearsal, that week of ‘shedding paid off. It was so… comfortable, I guess? That's the best word.
Speaking of traveling with instruments: In its case my accordion is just small enough to squeeze by as a carry-on, but once on a flight to California they stopped me at the gate because the flight was so full. I begged and pleaded–it’s a valuable and delicate instrument; they insisted; and in the end we negotiated a compromise: I could bring the accordion but had to check the case. I’m sure you can imagine the laughter and snarky comments as I shuffled down the aisle with it. A true accordion moment. (The next time I took it on a plane I wrapped it in bubble wrap and put it in a grocery bag. Traveling incognito).
Sunset, Crawford Pond, Warren, Maine.