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In the 1920s, my great grandfather emigrated from Italy and started one of the first accordion businesses in America. The tradition has now been passed to my grandfather. But for me, the tradition has a twist.

It starts with a knock on the front door, a signature, and me—an impatient little girl— waiting to see what’s inside. The note attached says, “Wait until room temperature. Assemble upper and middle joint so they line up in the middle. Attach bell, barrel, and mouthpiece. Put reed on mouthpiece and secure with ligature. Have fun!”

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Of course, a little girl has no clue what a “barrel” or “ligature” is. But with help from mom and dad, the house was far from quiet.

Figuring out how to work this musical contraption was troublesome…at times I wanted to give up—being a impatient fifth grader did not help the cause, either. Making sounds, reading the notes, and covering the holes came with time.

And I spent hours trying to make the thing sound good—and it paid off.
Sometimes my grandfather will randomly send me letters with strange accordion accompaniments or the latest musicians digest. I never know what expect when there’s mail from grandpa. But I do know that I am grateful for his hard work and dedication to the family business. He is still working—even though he is 75-years-old and retirement is past overdue. But he hasn’t quit, because he loves what he does. And one day, I wish to be just like my grandpa, sending the next big knock to my grandchild’s door. Although I haven’t received a package quite like the first, each note reminds me why I continue to involve myself in music.
Every day of the week—yes, every day—I practice, teach, or rehearse. Music enabled me to travel to Europe for five weeks and stay with host families from multiple countries, attend Interlochen Arts Camp, and win in a concerto competition. And somehow I have balanced my hectic life so I can enjoy the things I love.

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