Accordion USA October Feature
Note about the Author: Kate Kelsall, enjoys entertaining with the accordion and plays solos, in an accordion quartet and an accordion band in the Denver area. Kate can be contacted at
Accordion Brotherhood:
Kim and Dan Christian's Adventure in China
By Kate Kelsall

Kim 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 competition.

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 nonverbal behavior.

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 through their web site at 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.