Convention Activities
National Accordion Convention - Texas Style
March 7-10, 200
Holiday Inn Convention Center
Plano, Texas

700 East Central Parkway
(Hwy 75 between Park and Parker)
Make those reservations today
so we can book the entire hotel!

$59.00 per night

Call 972-881-1881

Workshop Titles/Descriptioins
Astor Piazzolla - Tango Nuevo
Stand Up and Speak Up
Platform Music Ministry
Alexander the Great
Turning Simplistic Music into Great Music
Gearing Your performance to the right audience
Solo Dynamics
Introduction to the Bayan
Accordion Resources
Fill Ins
Playing from Fake Books
Irish Music
Conjunto/Tex Mex Music
Cleveland Style Polka Music

Mini Lectures/Roundtable/Texas Traditions | Workshops | Festival Orchestras
Astor Piazzolla - Creator of Tango Nuevo
presented by Lidia Kaminska

ASTOR PIAZZOLLA - creator of Tango Nuevo

  • History of the tango:
    Differences between traditional Argentine tango and Tango Nuevo,
  • Bandoneon as a principal instrument of tango music:
    Differences between bandoneon and button chromatic accordion,
  • Interpretation and techniques used in Piazzolla tangos:
    Accentuation, articulation and tango phrase, rhythm, expressivenes, vibrato and rubato, influence of the jazz music.
"Stand up" and "Speak up"
Hands-on workshops by Garland Toastmasters Club

Proposed Workshop Title Topics Covered

  • Introductions The art of "introducing" and "being introduced"
  • Master of Ceremony Training Keeping a public event moving
  • Impromptu Speaking Speaking without warning (i.e., answering unexpected questions)
  • Speech Preparation Preparing and presenting exciting 3-minute speeches

The "fear of speaking in public" is often listed as one of our greatest fears! It is also a fact that many musicians are expected to be great public speakers, but very few accordionists are comfortable speaking in public. Once again, the Texas Accordion Association is first to offer unique professional training for the accordion world.

The "fear of speaking in public" is often listed as one of the public's greatest fears! Even though accordionists are "up-front entertainers," the aspect of speaking in public keeps a lot of people from doing their best. To greatly reduce that fear, the Convention Planning Team has contacted Toastmasters International about conducting "hands-on" training seminars for the conventioneers. To enforce the workshop training, those who are interested and have completed the training will be assigned numerous duties during the convention. Such duties may include the following:

Apply Your Convention-based Toastmaster Training!
Based on the number of people interested and participating in the training, "graduates" may gain experience by introducing the various speakers and performers throughout the day and during the evening banquet.

Reservation Recommended
Since this convention-based participation partnership is unique to both the Toastmaster organization and the Texas Accordion Association, the interest level must be verified before scheduling trainers. Please complete the "Toastmaster Reservation Form" so we can schedule the Toastmaster trainers. Once again, the Texas Accordion Association is first to offer unique professional training for the accordion world.

Learning More about Toastmasters International
For more information on Toastmasters International, visit their website, visit the dealer's room that is reserved for the Toastmaster organization, and visit the professional trainers during the TAA "Roundtable and Mini-Lecture Series" presentation. The Toastmasters organization will assist you in empowering the" professional edge" in your personal presentations.

Becky and Charlie Blake Present . . .
Platform Music Ministry; i.e., "Stage Musicians"
"The odds and ends of being a Professional Musician"
This is definitely a new concept for the Texas Accordion Association. While standing in front of a live audience, platform musicians must be ready to respond to anything at anytime. For example, while performing a musical arrangement, the pastor or priest may walk on the platform and request that the musicians play something totally different. The platform musician must immediately convert the present selection into the requested selection. This session is good preparation for non-church performances such as restaurant owners suddenly demanding that the musician switch from a lively polka to play "Happy Birthday" for a customer. If the Blakes know how to "keep a minister happy", they can sure help any musician. Attending this seminar will help you know how to handle almost everything!

Rebecca Blake is a faculty member in the music department at Southwestern Assemblies of God University. Her degrees include Bachelor of Arts in piano performance and Bachelor of Science in music education, both from Minnesota State University-Moorhead. She also holds a Master of Music degree in piano performance from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. She has 13 years of teaching experience at the collegiate level. She serves as co-minister of music with her husband at Dallas First Assembly of God, Dallas, Texas.

Charles Blake spent 13 years performing alongside evangelist Jimmy Swaggart in foreign and domestic crusades as crusade organist. He has recorded album projects in Nashville, TN with Jimmy Swaggart and many other artists. He enjoys arranging music for small orchestras and stage bands. Charles plays the Celtic harp, piano, organ and the accordion. He and his wife Rebecca are currently Ministers of Music at Dallas First Assembly of God, Dallas, Texas. Charlie arranged the Gospel Medley that Becky will be directing at the end of the Saturday Smorgasbord; this group will do a live performance on Saturday'.

The Return of "Alexander The Great!"
It is with great pleasure that we announce that 5-time Grammy winner, Tim Alexander, is returning to the National Accordion Convention. When he appeared in the 1999 convention, people were amazed with his presentation of the button accordion. As he says: "It pays to know musical theory while playing the button accordion." Tim is a trained classical pianist who played progressive country music with a musical group called "Asleep at the Wheel." He won the Grammy awards while performing with this group. He discovered accordions several years ago, and has been experimenting with them ever since. He seems to prefer the diatonic and was featured on the Hohner Accordion Company poster a few years ago. He has spent some time studying both the chromatic and piano accordions, too. He will be conducting two workshops, one for the diatonic people and the other for the general audience.

Tim Alexander's General Session
Ballroom: Saturday 2:00 until 2:50 p.m.
How to play piano accordion in non-polka bands (Zydeco, Country & Western, Blues/R&B/Rock, Soul (like an organ); using devices on amplified accordions (Leslie speaker simulator and delays). He will also compare keyboard styles such as piano accordions, chromatics, and diatonic accordions (arpeggios/span/gliss., etc.)

Alexander's Button Box Seminar
Five-time Grammy Winner and Producer of a TexMex Instructional Video with Flaco Jimenez.
Button Accordion Room: Saturday, 1:00 until 1:50

Another TAA-First: Two professionals with different backgrounds, joining together to do a highly specialized workshop!

For 2002, Alexander will be working with Santiago Jimenez (Flaco's borther) to teach push/pull principles, relationship to harmonica, tabulator available. TexMex 3-row: Characteristics, relationship between Euro-Polka/waltz and TexMex Polka (schottische), chromatic runs on 3-row diatonic, chords-arpeggios, tricks ("waggle", "run-up", "stupggened (?) 10ths", Cajun 1-row: Characteristics, left-hand principles and basic positions. Tim and Santiago will meet each other for the first time at this convention; however, since they are both into Conjunto music, be ready for a fantastic event. Santiago lived the music and Tim has researched and mastered it!

Converting "Simplistic Music" into "Fantastic Music!"
Training for those wishing to perform with duets, trios, ensembles, and orchestras

Alice Aman, from the Colorado-based Monarch Accordion Company, will share some of the secrets that have made the Aman family such outstanding musicians. Alice will not just TELL you how they play so beautifully; this hands-on workshop will have you in the driver's seat as she teaches you how to accomplish some of the techniques that she believes make an accordionist a real musician: Phrasing, articulation, "clean playing," the use of accents, etc.

Be sure to bring your accordion to this workshop because Alice will be directing the whole group in trying out these techniques. The participants of this workshop will probably be performing at the convention. No, it is not necessary to be great site-readers to participate in this hands-on workshop. Alice is internationally known for taking introductory level students and creating fantastic musicians.

Jim Rommel
Gearing your Performance to the Right Audience

For years, Jim's workshops have been a fun and entertaining experience for convention attendees. This year, Jim Rommel will be presenting another of his very popular workshops entitled: "Gearing your Performance to the Right Audience."

Whether you are playing professionally for a large crowd, or just playing for an informal gathering of friends, this workshop will teach you tricks and techniques on how to size up your audience and give them the best entertainment you have to offer. Jim will discuss topics such as:

  • Formal vs. Informal Settings
  • Types of environments (festive, dancing, listening, stuffy,
  • Pacing yourself and your repertoire for long gigs
  • Getting the most out of short gigs
  • Audience stereotypes and age groups
  • How to prepare in advance
  • How to select your music
  • How to present yourself (besides the actual playing)
  • Do I have to talk to the audience?
  • What to do….when everything is going wrong!
  • …and much more…
    As usual, Jim will mix in a lot of playing, singing, and a few humorous real-life stories from his experiences as an accordion entertainer. This is a workshop for players at all levels, from beginner to advanced. Don't miss this opportunity to learn some great entertaining tips in a fun-filled hour.
Solo Dynamics
Sir John Simkus, The Chicago Jazz King
Dynamics, dynamics, dynamics, what the heck are dynamics, I never saw one. OK, lets try expression, feelings, moods and phrases. These are some of the things we will talk about in this year's workshop. These techniques can and should be applied to all music, ethnic, jazz, classical, you name it!
Alabama Invasion!
by Jim Wadowick

Selection: Tailspin (Pietro Frosini)

  • Definition and Description
  • Other Differences
  • Weight
  • Example: Dark Eyes (Frosini)
  • Right hand buttonboard.
  • Range
  • Example: Perles de Cristal cadenza (Jerome Richards)
  • Getting Around the Buttons
  • Books that have C-system information: Ferraro, Médard. Méthode D'Accordion. Éditions Hohner. Wurthner, Rudolf. Neue Knopfgriff-Akkordeon-Schule.Hohner Edition. Dix ans avec l'accordéon. Cité de la musique, centre de ressources musique et danse. Paris, France.
  • Fingering systems
  • Examples: Trieste Overture (Pietro Diero)
  • Free-Bass Left Hand
  • Example: chromatic scale both hands in unison
  • Free-bass set up
  • Example: Invention No. 8 (J.S. Bach)
  • Question and Answer session
    Jim Wadowick
    215 Glenwood Ave.,
    Troy, Al 36081
    Phone: 334-566-1564
Accordion Resources
by Arleen Faulkner, TX: Roundtable
This roundtable consist of Internet resources to cover, teachers, accordions, music, and just general information. If you don't use the Internet we will have teaching videos, CD's, tapes, and books for you to look at. If you need help with button or piano accordion information, please stop by. We will certainly try to help you find resources.
Gordon Kohl (CA) - "Fill-ins"
The master teacher/performer will be teaching musical enhancements from his new book entitled "Fill-ins."
Playing from Fake Books
by Mary Medrick, TX

Mary Medrick is still on her crusade to encourage accordionists to "play nice" with others, whether accordions or singers or instrumentalists of all kinds. Improving your ensemble playing calls for attention to rhythm and understanding the progression of chords. This workshop will give some basics and some advanced tricks for accompanying --- when someone else has the melody. Discussion topics will include: Driving Defensively, Yielding the Right-of-Way, Reading the Road signs and Signaling for Turns.

Technique: Piano Accordion
Eyes on the music, never look at your fingers, connect your notes within a phrase... all things any teacher would say. Mary Medrick offers practical advice and some fun exercises aimed at smoothing out the bumps on the piano keyboard. You'll take away a clear vision of how to improve your sightreading and achieve a beautiful right hand legato, with the steps laid out for your practice the day you go home from the convention.

Irish Music
by Rob Steinhofer, MN

A. Introduction to the Irish B/C Diatonic Button Accordion
While this is a class devoted to beginner/intermediate instruction on the B/C tuned diatonic button accordion, G/C button box and concertina players interested in Irish music should also attend. Participants should have their own instruments and be prepared to play at least one sample tune. Observers (without button accordions) can ask Rob questions after class.

One class will address the following subjects:

  1. comparison of different button accordion tuning systems (one/two-row, B/C, C#/D, wet/dry)
  2. Rob will ask each participant with B/C accordion to play a sample tune for individual coaching on playing technique with improvement suggestions.
  3. Rob will play a few sample tunes for participants to record and study on their own (bring your tape recorder).

Rob will also be available for private lessons after the workshop. Sheet music for sample tunes will be handed out along with recommended Irish accordion music resources. Traditional Irish Tune books will be available for sale.

B. Playing Music for Traditional Irish Session
You can find Irish Music Sessions in cities and festivals across the US and around the world. Why not tap into the art and energy of this classic form of Irish music "Jam".

In one class we will go into the following areas:

  1. What is the Irish Session scene? A little history from Rob's experience.
  2. Introduction to Session etiquette and typical tune styles.
  3. Review the local Session scene and other resources
  4. Starting your own Session
    Participants are invited to follow Rob to check out a real Irish Session in the Dallas area on Sunday (March 10th, afternoon?).
    Tunebooks for Irish Sessions will be available for sale.
Conjunto (TexMex) Music
by Santiago Jimenez, Jr.

By popular demand, Santiago is returning to the annual International Accordion Convention. A master of the button accordion, Santiago is the son of Conjunto pioneer Don Santiago Jimenez, Sr., and brother of Flaco Jimenez. Santiago has dedicated himself to preserving the style and memory of his father's music, garnering three Grammy nominations on his journey.

He has performed all over the United States and Europe, with stops in the Soviet Union, Austria, Switzerland and France. Some memorable performances include New York's Carnegie Hall, Grant Park in Chicago, Washington, D. C., and Philadelphia to name a few. In September 2000 in Washington, D. C., the National Endowment for the Arts recognized Santiago with a National Heritage Fellowship for his achievements in preserving Conjunto traditions.

The Diatonic Button Accordion and Cleveland-Style Polka Music by Ron Pivovar
This workshop will present the history (with accordion music) of the development of old country folk music into an Americanized style of polka music in Cleveland, Ohio. Highlights will include: immigration, early contributors, examples of structure, melody, harmony, and form, the impact of radio and recordings, the popularity apex and the decline. The current status of this music and the button accordion will also be addressed.

Biographic Information Ron Pivovar

Ron grew up within the environment of ethnic music in Western Pennsylvania; this influence began a life-long interest in music. As a youngster Ron studied music on several instruments and began playing in polka and wedding bands at the age of 14. After discovering the unique sound of the button box, Ron bought one through a mail-order catalog and taught himself to play by "ear".

At a music festival some years later Ron met Joe Smiell, a conservatory-trained musician from California. He attended Joe's Button Box Camp where the instrument was studied formally including the reading of traditional music notation. Since that time Ron has produced 5 recordings of button box music, is active with the Pivovar Trio, and has composed over 100 songs. By trade Ron is a retired college art teacher. He maintains an active pottery studio on 8 acres near Greenville, PA.