WHY Compete as an Adult Accordion Student?

I just returned from the ATG (Accordion Teacher’s Guild) National Convention in Chicago (July 2015) This was their 75th Anniversary. There were 53 players in the Convention Orchestra (which I played with) and over 75 accordion contestants.

There were competitions for the adult accordion students – and these were not JUST HOBBY categories!!! They had OPEN, POP, JAZZ, ETHNIC, Polka, Standard, Original, and two special categories – one for Tango and one for American Accordion Composers. AND the kids did not compete against the adults!

I had two adult students entered into the contest – so I sat through just about every competition – and here is what I take away from the convention as well as the competitions! (P.S. My 2 students won 1st or 2nd or 3rd in every category they entered in – 7 total!)


  • We saw and heard fantastic performances from fantastic accordionists – from the concerts and the competitions and the casual performances at the meal times and prior to concerts.
  • We saw and heard the full spectrum of adult and youth LOVE of playing the accordion
  • We saw and heard EVERY accordion player – doing their VERY BEST at their levels of knowledge and performance
  • We saw and heard so many different styles and genres (Classical, jazz, Middle Eastern, semi-classical, original for accordion, Pop, Rock, Standard, Italian, Tango, Cajun, and so much more!) , from concert setting to performance setting (like the dining music!) to the competition setting to the workshop settings!

For PARTICIPANTS – Contestant:

  • The satisfaction of having prepared a selection – and “delivering” the very best performance
  • The NERVES – you never realized will KICK IN – right before your performance
  • The STRESS of continuing to PLAY after a BOO-BOO and recovering to continue your best performance
  • The “retrospect” of knowing you possibly need to practice differently – focusing on different elements of your playing skills
  • The FANTASTIC experience of HEARING your name called – when you were announced as a WINNER!
  • AND NOW as a WINNER – realizing – that the HARD JUDGEMENT OF YOURSELF you did right after you competed – was both GOOD and totally unnecessary!!! You see – you knew every error you made – and it DID NOT MATTER – because – the judges zoomed in on the elements they recommend for you to focus on to practice and to improve on and what the judges felt were your strongest assets!

The Take-Away for all Contestants:

  • The atmosphere of a competition – sets up several Opportunities to LEARN!!
  • The realization that the contestants are NOT really competing against each other – only against themselves – and the delivery of a flawless selection to the best of their skill level!
  • The contestant has the opportunity to PERFORM – UNDER STRESS – on a song that has been worked on – to the highest level – and delivered it to their best level
  • Each contestant experiences nerves and stress and LEARNS what they personally need to DO TO OVERCOME these
  • The contestant – sees that they individually CAN PERFORM a song and SURVIVE!
  • Teachers AND Students – learn from the Judges comments and will use these to grow as a musician and as a teacher!

Just a few thoughts to pass on!