I was painting a porch several years ago for my friend Cate, and to keep me company she put on some amazing Irish music. The artist was Sharon Shannon and the CD was entitled Blackbird. Sharon, it turns out, is known for her talents on the button accordion and fiddle. It made me wonder if I could learn to play the accordion.
While I painted the porch that summer day, left alone with my thoughts, I spent several hours debating the pros and cons of learning a new instrument. In the end the cons won, and I resolved to chalk it up to another crazy idea.
At the time, I didn’t even know the difference between a piano and a button accordion. The extent of my knowledge was that they both have bellows and buttons. Now, many years later, I know all about the differences between the two, because I play both of them. Not well, mind you, but I have made enough progress that I really enjoy playing. In fact, I love it. I love playing with others and taking my skill to the next level.
So here was my dilemma. These accordions are very different. Very. Different. And in order to get good enough to play with other musicians, I really need to stick with one for a good long while. So which of the two was it going to be?
I had to pick. The piano accordion was my first. It was a gift from Cate and it’s a conversation starter, I will tell you. It also weighs seventeen pounds, and while I am not a lightweight, I notice it.
The button accordion I later received was also a gift. It was in need of repair, and I gave it a second lease on life. It is much smaller, lighter, and way easier to take along—much to Kathleen’s chagrin. And take it I do. The first thing I pack for travel is my button box shoulder bag.
Making that decision between the two was difficult because I enjoy them both, but it was necessary. If I was going to get good at playing accordion, I had to say no to one, in order to say yes to my dream of playing in a band. If I didn’t want to settle for being mediocre, then I couldn’t try to learn both at one time.
Are you holding onto things that are pulling you in too many directions? The truth is that we just can’t say yes to everything that captures our attention. In fact, it is a relief not to.
My passion for playing music was propelling me forward. Having to pick which accordion to practice was holding me back. Now I know the difference. I need to say no, in order to say yes. I will find a good home for the piano accordion, and someone else will get to make her sing. And I will play in a band sometime soon.
It is a Great Life, Simplfied.