Wednesday, August 7, 2013

A Mazurka by Any Other Name

The verdict is in. Valse des Jouets, a lovely waltz by Michel Faubert, is misnamed. At least it is when I play it. Anja danced and declared it definitely a mazurka.  Tine and Lydie agreed and thought it was possibly my best mazurka to date. This surprises me, but I will take a gift mazurka when I can find it. Sorry, Michel, you may have written a waltz but alas, in my hands, not so waltzy after all.

Lydie (left) and Tine (right) attempt to teach me to waltz
Anja, Lydie, and Tine have been Wim Claeys' pupils for several years. Their workshop is out for the summer, which is why they have time to hang around doing tunes with the likes of me. What they have learned certainly shows. For one thing they can play an astounding variety of tunes together, switching off melody and accompaniment seamlessly.

I, on the other hand, completely fall apart when someone else is playing and nearly drop my box on the floor in total confusion. I suspect that this is an artifact of teaching myself accordion by the numbers. Way too much book learning and not nearly enough workshop.

In Atlanta, I found that playing along with my virtual tutors to be virtually impossible and sadly didn't persist. Finally, and only in the last several months, have I begun to be able to play along with a video. Sometimes when I am with people I know, it isn't too bad. But, playing in front of strangers leaves my fingers totally stricken with the jitters.

I apparently don't mind playing for an invisible audience, having received this comment on a previous post:

"Hi Philip,
My wife and I happened to be walking down Ballenstraat in Gent, Belgium when I heard the sound of a button accordion playing Josephin's Vals . . . I made a Google search for "Ballenstraat accordeon" and your blog showed up."

So, I think I'll sit on my balcony to give an unannounced concert. Any audience should sneak down Ballenstraat without making a sound. And, even if you should happen to enjoy Michael Flaubert's waltz as a mazurka, strictly no applause, lest I drop my box.

My upcoming workshop in Gooik with Wim Claeys himself should be interesting. I hear that he and others will actually be in the room. Let's see. Blindfold? Check. Ear plugs? Check. Yep, I think I'm prepared to play along. Wait a minute. We will have learn to play a tune by ear? Oh dear.

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