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Book Review:

An A to Z of the Accordion & related instruments

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An A to Z of the Accordion & related instruments

Editor's Note:
A review copy of Rob Howard's "An A to Z of the Accordion" arrived in our mailbox recently with the following message from the author:
"The A to Z of the Accordion is primarily aimed at the British and Irish markets, and is the only reference book dedicated to the accordion ever written or published in Great Britain or Ireland. I have discovered, however, that people in quite a few countries have enjoyed my book. The book took nine months to write --in 2003-- and copies have been sold, apart from Britain, in Ireland, the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Italy, Austria, Fiji, and Japan. ...I am presently preparing material for Volume Two, which will appear sometime next year."
I can concur. I am an American who finds this book both informative and entertaining. Due to the sheer number of accordionists who could be in this tome, Rob Howard has limited the biographical entries to those accordionist who have had contact with Britian through performances and/or appearances.

Below you will find reviews written by Peter Ayers, MD Norvic Concordia, Norwich, England and Frank Marocco, Los Angeles, USA. Rob Howard has also passed on to us some reader comments that we thought you might like to read.

Reviewed by: Peter Ayers, MD Norvic Concordia, Norwich, England

For anyone who either plays the accordion or who has an interest in the instrument, then this book is essential reading. This also applies to players of the melodeon, concertina, bandoneon and harmonica. For those who have not been acquainted with the instrument for long, there is a wealth of information about the instrument itself, its history, and advice on learning and playing technique. For those like myself, who have been playing the instrument for more than fifty years, the book is a mine of nostalgia and fascinating information about players - some familiar names, but others of whom I knew little or nothing about. The accordion is not one of the mainstream instruments in Britain, and therefore it is encouraging to read about the activities of so many other players.

For those who enjoyed reading the American account of the accordion in the USA, The Golden Age of the Accordion, published in 1984 and revised in 1992, then you are sure to enjoy this British counterpart. Whereas the American book was about accordion players and manufacturers and contained many black and white photographs, some whole page in size, Rob Howard's book is far more wide ranging. It is set out in encyclopaedia form, but is no mere dictionary of facts. What is remarkable is the style of writing, which always remains easy to read and yet interesting. Although the archive and specially commissioned articles have been written by various writers, they maintain a high standard of clarity of accuracy throughout, which is a tribute to Rob's editing and the proof reading of his wife Marj and daughter Jane.

There are about 100 photographs and nearly 300 entries. These range from biographies covering many players, past and present, to longer articles on playing technique by such eminent teachers and players as Charles Magnante, Gerald Crossman, Adrian Dante, Rosemary Wright and Trevani. Rob's own article "Advice for the Aspiring Accordionist" is a result of his own varied experience of playing the instrument and is clearly written, down-to-earth valuable advice. Being in A to Z format, there are many entries about the instrument and its related aspects, including a history of the accordion. To give an idea of the varied content of the book, here is a random selection of a few of the headings:

  • Accordion Magazines
  • Accordion Retailers
  • Accordion Tuning - Straight or Musette?
  • Accordion Amplification
  • Bellows
  • BAA
  • BCA
  • Choosing an Accordion
  • Competing at Festivals
  • Composing and Arranging
  • Couplers
  • Electronic Accordion
  • Humour
  • Irish traditional music
  • Jazz
  • MIDI
  • Musette
  • NAO
  • Nostalgia
  • Performing in Public
  • Qualifications
  • Recordings
  • Relaxation
  • Scotland's Accordion Heritage
  • Shand Morino
  • Strange, but true...
  • Tex-Mex
  • Tremolo
  • Tutor Books
  • Video Tuition
  • World Accordion Championships
  • World War Two

The book can be used as a reference book, simply dipped into by reading certain articles, or read in its entirety. All entries are very readable and of interest to the accordionist.

This book has filled a void in the accordion scene in Britain where, although there have been a number of magazines published over the years, there has been no one reference publication that one can learn about the instrument and its place in British society. Fortunately, this gap has been filled by an excellent book, which I cannot praise too highly.

Review by: Frank Marocco, Los Angeles, USA

I have just finished reading a new book, An A to Z of the Accordion, written by Rob Howard, Secretary of the Stockport Accordion Club of England. It covers almost everything pertaining to the accordion worldwide. Included are biographies of many of the major accordion players, both professional and amateur, British contest winners, and information about accordion festivals and accordion clubs. There are many photos of well-known and lesser-known players from Britain and other parts of the world. This book is a very well written history of the accordion, including many personal stories of some of the popular artistes, and tinged with humor to make a very informative and easy read.

I recommend this book highly to all accordion players and to all who love this wonderful instrument.

Critical Comments

"Many thanks for your excellent book. I have already read it twice!"
Harry Rose, Norwich

"Just received copy of your book today. Started reading it at lunchtime, and couldn't put it down!"
Pete Jebb, Bingley, Yorkshire

"I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your book, and I have showed it to quite a few people. Steafan Hannigan read it for at least 40 minutes when he visited recently."
Murray Grainger, Chetham's Music School, Manchester (Steafan Hannigan is the world's foremost player/teacher of the bodhran)

"Since receiving your excellent reference book of the accordion I have been unable to put it down. I particularly enjoyed the articles on the artistes of the 30s, 40s and 50s as I heard many of them on the radio, but better still saw many of them at the local music halls. Once again, thank you for a book well written and researched."
John Lock, Grimsby

"May I congratulate you on the contents and physical quality of the book. A bargain, too!"
James Latchford, Pershore, Worcestershire

"Thank you for the copy of your book, which I must say is excellent."
Frank Swindell, Rhyll

"You've done a good job with this attractively presented little gem."
Heather Smith, Editor of the magazine Accordion Profile, Hull

"Congratulations on your wonderful 'newsy' book on the accordion. What a tremendous amount of research you must have done. Hope you have a huge success with it."
Pamela Deakin, Birmingham

"The book is still taking me on interesting trips down memory lane, as well as bringing new discoveries. My only problem with it is that once I start looking at it, I don't want to put it down!"
Rosemary Wright, Leicestershire

"...interesting and informative, and by covering so many different aspects of the accordion, it should appeal to everyone" Pearl Fawcett, Barnsley "I think that your book is absolutely superb. Very readable, as well as encyclopaedic."
Neil Sanders, London

"Scholarly, but light reading."
Eddie Iddon, Warrington

"Congratulations on producing an excellent book."
Mary Dent, Norvic Concordia, Norwich

"I shudder to think of the immense amount of work and time involved you had in compiling this wonderful, lovely, well-produced reference book. Many congratulations on the final result. An excellent production, and you deserve to have the greatest possible success with it."
Gerald Crossman, London

"Hey - I got a bone to pick with you. I can't get any work done 'cos I keep reading this book of yours!"
Charlie Watkins, W.E.M, London

"I think that your book is remarkable not only for its accuracy, but also for the wealth of information that you have brought to light in just one publication. I am sure it will give much pleasure to many who play the accordion."
Peter Ayers, MD Norvic Concordia, Norwich

"Well done. You've obviously worked very hard to produce a comprehensive study".
Wes Williams, Secretary of the International Concertina Association

"The book is great. I was most flattered to see the entry giving details of yours truly and KEYView on Radio Cavell. It's great that the organ and accordion worlds can help each other and I must admit that since we started to include accordion on the programme, I've been very pleased with the response and interest."
Ian Wolstenholme, organist and radio presenter, Oldham, Lancashire

"Rob is to be congratulated upon producing a fascinating and very readable account of the accordion scene, from its origins to the present day."
Jack Emblow, Amersham, Buckinghamshire

"I have just finished reading the book and am amazed at how well written and informative it is. Most of all though, it gives much information on the artistes that are so appreciated by fans of the accordion."
Frank Marocco, Los Angeles, USA

Order Information

UK - £15 + £4 postage/packing (cheques payable to Rob Howard) Overseas £15 + £8.50p
$42US -
payments can be made via credit card

Contact: Rob Howard
42 Avondale Road
Edgeley, Stockport, Cheshire
(0161) 480 8858

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