Welcome to my blog, where I take pleasure in words and pictures, be they my own or those of others. I'm a creative individual, and the crafty side I explore on my 'other blog', Picking Up The Threads, which I hope you'll visit too. I'm sure you understand that I have sole copyright of my original work and any of my contributions, so please ask if you want to use them. A polite request is rarely refused. So, as they used to say on the BBC's 'Listen With Mother' radio programme, many years ago: "Are you sitting comfortably? Then we'll begin."

Friday, 20 May 2011

Girl With a Pearl Accordion

I picked up on the orchestral theme for this week’s Sepia Saturday post. Well, that may be stretching it a bit; it’s more of a band really. Here is a photograph of my mother (born in 1920) playing in 'Wally Morris’s Accordion Band' in Nottingham. She tells me that this was the only time she earned any money from her accordion playing. The band would travel to various Miners' Welfare social clubs to play, and on the way home Wally would divide up the takings amongst the band. Mum would be about 16 or 17 years of age, and the money went towards buying a bigger and better accordion with 120 stops, rather than the 48 she had. Apparently she said; “Nothing comes between me and my music!” ...................but then she met my Dad! When they married, in 1942, the accordion was sold to buy some sort of domestic appliance which “never worked properly”.

Here she is at the age of thirteen, with her first piano accordion. My Grandma and Granddad used to save a little each week towards it.This was the thirties and times were hard, with my Granddad often laid off from work in the building trade. However, they were thrifty people and my Gran was a good housekeeper, so, after much careful budgeting, the accordion was bought. At this time Mum was having piano lessons from a lady who gave piano and violin lessons. The music teacher fell under the spell of the piano accordion herself, and recruited Mum and her other pupils into ‘Madam Haig and Her Accordion Band’.

Mum also recalls playing with 'Al Roberts and His Blue Aces' where she got to wear a satin blouse and velvet trousers. This hand-tinted photo is apparently faithfully coloured.

Mum was obviously very proud of her accordion, which, as well as being a musical instrument, was something of a work of art in itself, highly decorated and inlaid with mother-of-pearl.

We had a piano in the house when I was growing up and Mum would play for me whilst I danced around the room as a little girl. I had piano lessons too but sadly, I didn’t inherit Mum’s musical ear. It skipped a generation, and my daughter is now the musician in the family. She played recorder, piano and trumpet, and history repeated itself as we would go and watch her play her trumpet in the local youth orchestra. After leaving university she formed her own band and wrote her own songs. My son had a very sweet singing voice as a child and would sing in school choirs. He plays an electric guitar for pleasure and has introduced me to the delights of ‘Magic Piano’ on the iPad. How times have changed. I wonder what my grandparents would make of the new technology.

And here’s another work of art, lovely gentle piece called ‘Girl with Accordion’ by Venetsianov. Now, if Mum had an ‘accordion’ like that maybe she could have kept up her music. It was obviously small and easily transportable. However,  I suppose it could just as easily have been bartered for a domestic tool of some kind!


  1. What lovely memories. The photographs of your Mum are wonderful - how great to have them.

  2. What a shame she sold the accordion for a household appliance! And nice photos.

  3. That last painting does have a Vermeer-ish sort of lighting, doesn't it. I've always been fascinated by the look of accordions, and someone sent me a scan of a CDV showing a young man with an accordion recently. I'll have to dig it out and post it now.

  4. Your mother looks very happy with her accordion. I never was musical and never learned to play a musical instrument. I played the drum in the school band and orchestra.

  5. What a great tribute. Do you know what kind of music the orchestra played?

  6. pretty sure your mom would have an iPad now!!! let's leave her smiling kindly upon the evolution of things...

  7. I haven't seen or heard an accordion for years. There used to be a band, whose name I have forgotten, who played on the wireless back in the 1950s.
    Pity your mother swapped the accordion; what with iPods, Ipads and Mp3 players many today are missing the opportunity to play a proper instrument.

  8. Your mom resembles the young girl in the painting - which I too agree has vermeer-ish sort of lighting. We are left wondering what appliance she traded her accordion for...

  9. Mike, I asked Mum and she says it was popular music of the day; medleys, ballads, but mostly dance music, including the Viennese Waltz. Ticklebear, there is a move afoot from the grandsons to get Mum and Dad an iPad2 so that they can Facetime the rest of the family. Come July they’ll both be 90, but my Mum is ’thinking about it’!

  10. Oh my isn't she talented! Great group of photos and fantastic music abounds....! Thanks!

  11. What a sad story. Your mom had to give up her first love. But I'll bet she never regretted it. Well, maybe a little bit. Loved this post.
    Ladies of the grove

  12. What wonderful pictures of your mom with her accordion!

  13. I keep seeing old photos of people playing accordions and it reminds me I really need to go to this years accordion festival.

    I was always amazed to see young kids hang one of these heavy things off their shoulders. There was the grab and lift, followed by the trying to get it in place, just the right place.

  14. Those are great pictures of your mom and her accordion. Does she have an accordion now and if so does she still play?
    Thanks for your comment and compliment.

  15. Great photos and what lovely memories! Scarlett x


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