A musical tale

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!”

accordion music

“Hey, there’s polka music too!” said the father. “Look, honey — here’s a polka just for you.”


The End

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.



About thethingaboutjoan

Mom of three who knits a little, bakes a lot, crafts a bit and blogs about it all.
This entry was posted in Family, Mothering, Music and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to A musical tale

  1. Micha says:

    How did he know how to play that song right off the bat? Had he ever played an accordion before? That’s wonderful…

    • He’s played the song before — for band, I think — so he just extrapolated to the accordion. He’s also messed around on piano some, so he knows what notes correspond to which keys. It still kills me that he can just pick it up.

      And nope, he’s never played an accordion before. It was the first time I’ve ever seen one live and in person. It’s definitely an interesting (and heavy) instrument. I can’t figure out how anyone came up with that design for any sort of musical instrument. Crazy.

  2. mtetar says:

    WOW!!! What a beautiful storyline, and post. Great Family Ties. Thanks for sharing, Joan. Be Blessed, and He is Blessed with such a gift, and talent. Mtetar

  3. Pat Kovach says:

    He is extremely talented. In about 10 years we’ll go to hear him at the CSO.

    • Here’s hoping, Pat! He knows so much more about music than I do, and he never fails to amaze me with what he can do with any musical instrument.

      Although the accordion is a LOT louder than most of the other instruments he plays. 🙂

  4. Susan Bahr says:

    Oh my gosh – too funny! I have a musician-daughter who randomly picks up instruments and plays them like an expert. Piano? No problem. Guitar? Yup. Violin? Amazing.
    Well, from one family to another – I guess I’m kinda glad she hasn’t seen this post. Although, I do have to say I think I have you topped on the noise factor.
    there’s a drum set in the spare room (I did mention she played drums, didn’t I?)
    Ya might want to invest in some sound proofing – or maybe some ear plugs…

    • So you know exactly what I’m talking about! I’m not musical at all, so I’m incredibly proud of him and bewildered by his ability to pick up different instruments. It’s as if he knew 40 different languages or something.

      Drums. Oh my. Yep, you got me beat. 🙂

      On 2/25/13 3:16 PM, “the thing about joan…”

  5. amyp22 says:

    Sweet giblets! You are a rocking mom! Hope the new instrument works out well!

  6. Cul de Sac says:

    Wow! What a lucky kid to have such a wonderful knack for music… But i would be a desesperated mother to have that home! I just can’t. Stand. Noise. And accordeon and organ are the worsts (not forgetting pipes…!)

    • Yeah, it’s louder than I thought possible. We have a piano we scored from Freecycle and this accordion’s sound positively dwarfs whatever noise the piano can make with kids banging on the keys. It is LOUD!

  7. Brilliant writing as usual! thank you sharing this lovely story and giving us a peek into your family and the obvious wonderful talent you son has. ~Thea

  8. Oh Wow! That is so cool! He has an amazing talent! Great, great post!

    • Thanks, Melissa! Although he enjoys messing around on this new instrument, trying to figure out what kind of sound he can coax from it, I hope he sticks to some of the other ones he’s played for a while. We’ll see….

  9. I love this! I love that you welcomed a very loud instrument into your home just to make your son happy! 🙂 My grandparents love the accordion and always higher a professional – who knew there was such a thing! – for their annual Christmas party.

    • I’m so glad to hear that there are professional accordion players — you never know what career path he might take! 🙂 Honestly, though, I do marvel at him and how he can figure out these instruments.

      Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting — it’s nice to meet you!

  10. Too fun! What a cool instrument for him to play! My son was all about the drums this year. We finally conceded and got him one to start with. 😉

    • We could have a decibel contest: drums vs. accordion. It might be a tie….

      My younger son is all about learning the drums too. Something about all the approved banging and loud noise in the name of “practice” just calls to him. 🙂

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