Out of Spite

You can have many different reasons why you want to start playing a musical instrument. I, for example, started playing the accordion out of spite. But don’t be mistaken: even if I wasn’t stubborn, I must say that I always liked the instrument. And so I became a beginner accordionist despite the fact that I turned sixty in December.

The thing is this: suddenly it occurred to me that they don’t count on me at work anymore. It doesn’t pay to invest any training in an elderly employee; you must use everything you can squeeze out of him, but he is useless when it comes to further education, because old people suck and would not understand anything new anyway. And thus I said to myself: “You stupid fool – you have been working hard all your life, keeping up with the news, but none of this will be of any use to you once you retire. Your work will please neither your wife nor your children or grandchildren; no one will ask you to do it again; your home is not a factory and there is something else that connects human souls.”

Suddenly I felt an urge to prove to myself that you can learn a lot of things even if you are sixty – and this is how the accordion came to my mind.

I went to a music store in Trutnov where I live and I bought an accordion playing manual. A customer saw me buying it and asked: “Are you buying this for yourself?” I said I did. “But then they should also add a teacher, preferably a female one.” And I said: “Right you are! This book is full of those little black dots, what if I don’t understand it?” And he gave me a card with the address of an accordion teacher and she has been my teacher since last September. She showed me a collection of folk songs by Josef Kotík, so now I’m struggling with Volume 1. And then I found the playaccordion.net website from which I have tried to learn (so far) the „son with a broken wheel“ and „Na Pankráci “.
Whatever my reasons for playing may be, I realize that it is by no means an easy instrument for me; the left and right hand coordination is still a problem. I still find it difficult to keep the rhythm in the left hand to allow the right hand to play the melody. But of course it gets better after I have played a song through twenty times. And most importantly – everytime I think of giving it up because it’s too difficult for me, I realize that if I did, all those who say that old people are of no use would be right. Which makes me so angry that I grab the bellows again: no way will I allow this to happen! And then I have one more engine to drive me further. I feel that my teacher finds it difficult to say that I don’t play something very well – so I try to avoid such moments and improve a bit every time. Even if I rarely succeed. I decided to use the holiday to work a little harder on my playing.

And finally there is probably the most important engine: I would like to learn to play a few songs just to sing along.

But my teacher told me recently that my playing skills developed so far were hardly sufficient for dancing. She said that it isn’t unusual if the time signature changes twice or three times in a song, but there are definitely no songs with a different rhythm in each bar.
So this is the story of my first feeble attempts to learn to play the instrument.

Štěpán Vojáček
published on 17/09/2015