Introducing Ardmore Accordion Academy: Promoting Accordion Artistry Through Learning, Performance and Community

Dziadzi's accordion

My grandfather’s accordion usually isn’t too far from my desk. I like to keep it at arm’s length for whenever I feel the need to squeeze on it throughout the day. In fact, the 1960s Gretsch has stayed by my side in recent years as I’ve transitioned from the newspaper world to freelance writing and editing, from Northeast Pennsylvania to Southeast Pennsylvania, and from bachelorhood to wifey and me and baby makes three. I’ve pretty much followed that accordion’s ever since my grandfather — “Dziadzi” — gave it to me when I needed a prop for a college improv class in 1999.

Accordion Johnny Brenda's

Performing at Johnny Brenda’s with The New Time in 2009.

I made only a modicum of progress trying to teach myself, but eventually learned more on the fly while in a band that took me to places I never thought I’d go. I wound up taking lessons, studying with an incredible teacher in Moorestown, N.J. for two years and providing invaluable tools that I’ve used in various musical collaborations ever since. But even as I began to give solo performances, my most memorable and meaningful moments came playing with my grandfather (and often times with my brother as well).

Bala Cynwyd 4th of July Parade

Riding along in the 2011 Bala Cynwyd 4th of July parade.

Our visits, which dwindled from weekly to quarterly over seven years, always involved Dziadzi playing harmonica. He played it with the same fervor he used on the accordion before putting it down due to an aging shoulder. He was still playing at age 96 when his health began to deteriorate. He passed away surrounded by his family in October, 2012. He would have turned 97 today.

kielbasa posse

The Kielbasa Posse , from left — Joe Petrucci, Anthony Petrucci and Edward Pilch — performing on Long Island in 2011.

That’s why it’s perfect timing to introduce the Ardmore Accordion Academy. It is not a place (although we are seeking physical space), but rather a movement focused on advancing accordion artistry through learning, performance and community. It is our belief that the best way for accordions to regain relevancy in the music world is to promote people from all backgrounds to use the accordion as a   means to navigate their lives. To explore, build, dream, revisit or connect. Nurturing accordion artistry will celebrate these journeys and promote the accordion in new and meaningful ways.

There are a few parts to the Ardmore Accordion Academy. First and foremost, we provide accordion lessons. Utilizing the Palmer-Hughes method along with a custom curriculum that includes digital instruction, we provide a customized and comprehensive accordion education experience. We offer accordion rental and we’ll come to your home.

First Friday Accordion

Playing for First Friday on Lancaster Ave. in West Philadelphia in August, 2012.

Then there’s our Accordion for Hire and Accordion-Gram services. I play cocktail parties, happy hours and other special events like wedding ceremonies or themed parties and offer affordable rates for a wide selection of styles. Or, if you’d like to make a personal statement to someone or a group of friends or family, you can send an Accordion-Gram. Choose from our available themes and selections or customize your Accordion-Gram.

Finally and most importantly there’s our Accordion Community. We’ll maintain a forum here in which we’ll have a progressive and respectful discussion about a variety of topics, including learning, buying and selling accordions and beginner questions.

Beyond our forum, we’ll look to make meaningful connections in and around Ardmore and throughout Greater Philadelphia to grow the accordion community and increase its impact.

I’ll also keep you posted here on a variety of accordion news, resources and events and will regularly post new videos and music tracks of accordion interest.

accordion academy of natural sciences

Performing with The Treats at the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia, 2009.

We already have our first student, and he just so happens to be one of the smartest guys in Philadelphia. Hopefully you’ll get a chance to know him over the next few months. I mentioned we’re looking for space and we’re wide open for collaborations, so spread the word and keep in touch.

In the meantime, I’m going to squeeze on Dziadzi’s accordion right here for his birthday. It won’t be the same, but I’m thankful to now have an outlet to share what he shared with me.

accordion birthday

About to play Happy Birthday on accordion for our son’s first birthday party in early 2012.

6 Comments

  1. Wonderful, Joe!! Dziadzi would be so proud. And I just love the launching date you chose ; ) Stolat, stolat! Wishing you every success.

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  2. Joe,
    This is very nice, congrats on getting this up and running. Sorry your grandfather couldn’t see , this site, while he was here, but he’ll be watching what you’re doing from heaven.
    Love,
    Jennifer

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  3. I loved reading this post. Especially your memories of playing with your grandfather. I bet he’d be incredibly proud to see what his accordion (and grandson) is up to these days.

    Seeing that awesome last picture (photo credit please!) made me look up the lyrics to Sto lat. Reading them made me think of your grandfather, especially given that today is his birthday. Sto-lat indeed!

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  4. WOW! this looks great and we both wish you good luck and we know you know hard work goes with this. Sorry about your grandfather, I remember him with great fondness. ciao April and Joe

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  5. Much luck with your new venture. I love the idea of the Accordion-Gram. I’m thinking of a few people right now who I would love to send one to on their b-day.

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  6. This is such a fantastic idea and a great site for promoting it. Someday I’ll come to you for lessons. In the meantime, that pic of you with the moose in the background is something special.

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