and Dan Christian experienced a tremendous feeling of brotherhood toward
the accordion from the representatives of three different countries-China,
Russia and the United States-at the 8th Chinese International Accordion
Festival held in Beijing, China from August 10-14, 2001. Kim and Dan performed
for the opening and closing ceremonies at the festival as well as judged
The Chinese audience was
absolutely delighted with their American music, particularly some of Kim
and Dan's jazz pieces. The audience was so enthusiastic about their music
that the Christians truly felt like celebrities when being bombarded with
requests for signing autographs and having their pictures taken.
The accordion is very popular in China; in fact, it is the most popular
instrument. At the festival, accordionists primarily played Chinese manufactured
accordions, particularly the Parrot and Baile brands. There were also
a few Italian accordions and a few Russian Bayans at the festival.
Accordion students are very enthusiastic. Once they start taking lessons,
they are expected to practice three to four hours a day. The children
are trained in private studios like in the U.S., but the student population
is very large. For example, there are approximately 2,000 accordion students
in Beijing alone. Playing a musical instrument is a great honor for Chinese
children, and the parents are very supportive, particularly since each
family has only one child. The accordion-related expenses create major
financial hardships for the family. (e.g., the average worker makes 100
U.S. dollars per month). The accordions are not as expensive as in America,
but do put financial strain on the family. Music teachers make good wages
as compared to other occupations in China, and, therefore, it is hoped
that children become music teachers.
There were approximately 600 competitors at the festival, and these were
the winners from the different provinces of China as well as a few Russian
competitors. The students were very advanced for their ages. Many students
from ages 10-12 were playing category six solos.
At the competition, each student played a test piece for their age group,
and they also had prepared two solos. If they made it past the first cut,
they played their more difficult piece for the final round. The competition
was strictly on classical music.
The system of judging was similar to the Olympics. A panel of five judges
from China, Russia, and the U.S. scored the competitors with scores ranging
from 8.01 to 9.99. The highest and lowest scores were discarded, and the
average was calculated based on the other three scores. There were no
written comments on the score sheets. This was a very different system
of judging as compared to American accordion competitions.
While judging, the language barrier was difficult, but most of the time,
there were interpreters. It proved to be a challenge when there were three
Russian judges, a Chinese judge and an American judge with no interpreters
available. The judges learned to understand each other with gestures and
The Christians felt appreciated and respected for their talent in China,
and they were pleased to be the first Americans to perform at this festival.
They were proud to be able to bring a new style of music to the Chinese
people. They hope that this will just be the beginning of the "Accordion
Brotherhood" among all accordionists.
For further information, contact Kim and Dan Christian by e-mail at
DKSqueeze@aol.com through their
web site at www.accordions.com/christian
or by phone at (719) 597-7668.
They are available for concerts and performances. Special engagements
include jazz and pop as featured music, Oktoberfest, Italian dinner engagements,
Irish celebrations and classical music for special projects.