Once upon a time, there lived a family of five in a little house in a Chicagoland suburb. Now the oldest son of this family had a knack for music and loved playing all different kinds of instruments — from oboe to cello to saxophone and more. Thankfully his band and orchestra teachers understood him and allowed him to learn new instruments after school on his own. But the son wanted more.
So one night the son made a wish on the first star he saw (although it might have been a plane en route to O’Hare airport):
Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight, I wish I might have a new instrument to play. May it be something unusual, something that no one else I know has. May it be complicated to learn. And loud. Really, really loud.
The next day, the son found a huge, heavy box on the doorstep. He dragged it inside.
“Open it, open it!” chanted his younger brother and sister, who were curious but who also really enjoyed chanting loudly.
Their father took charge and opened the box. Inside was a case the size of a large typewriter.
Carefully, they unlocked it and looked inside.
It was an accordion.
The father hoisted it onto his shoulders to give it an experimental squeeze. And although it was a beautiful accordion with shiny red accents and mother-of-pearl keys, it sounded rather ghastly.
“No, no, Father,” cried the son. “Here’s how you play this side as you work those bellows.” And he placed his hand on the keys to show him how to play a simple tune.
“Do you want to try it?” asked his father, and the son nodded. “Let’s switch then so you can give it a whirl.”
The son put his arms through the straps, took a moment to align it properly and to acquaint himself with the keys and buttons. Then, to the amazement of his family, he played “The Final Countdown” perfectly.
“And it’s loud!” he beamed at his mother.
“It is,” she sighed. “It sure is.”
“There’s more in the case!” the younger brother pointed out. “Look at this music!”
“Hey, there’s polka music too!” said the father. “Look, honey — here’s a polka just for you.”
Postscript: Based on the true story of how an accordion recently came to live with us — and, although I have totally taken artistic liberties here and there in the telling of this tale, my son M really did play a perfect rendition of “The Final Countdown” when he first put it on. It was amazing.
Special thanks to my sister-in-law for sending it to us (and yes, she did ask us whether we’d want it first so we knew it was coming). Traci, the kids think it’s hysterical to mess around on it, and it is completely intriguing to M to understand how to play it.
And a note to my brother: You’re right, Dan. It is seriously, seriously loud.