Absolutely! Because the accordion and/or button box is so versatile and mobile, it makes it the perfect instrument for on-the-go performances/gigs.
My love for the accordion began when I was a young girl and I would watch my mother play – in the kitchen, in the bedroom and anywhere else she felt like strolling to!
I grew to love the beautiful, sweet sounds and long after I married and moved out of the house, I decided to take formal lessons. It wasn’t long before I started to really catch on and my repertoire of songs started to accumulate.
One day, just for the fun of it, I left my name and phone number with a local nursing home saying I would be willing to play for the residents, should they need entertainment sometime. About a year later, I got an emergency call saying their standing accordionist had to cancel an event that was ready to begin in a couple hours and could I fill in?
I readily said “yes!” then quickly reviewed what music I would play, grabbed my accordion and flew down the street. I was thrilled to get the opportunity and it was totally voluntary on my part. I was not expecting to be paid, nor did we discuss pay.
I arrived at the nursing home where they were hosting an outdoor event. I played for one hour. Everyone started clapping to the music, others got up and danced. It felt good to see everyone enjoying themselves. At the end of the program, the activity director came up to me and handed me $40, cash. I told her I didn’t expect compensation, that I was just a beginner, but she insisted.
Thus began my sideline work of playing music for people who were shut in as well as other small events. I was working a full-time job, but was able to manage small gigs on the side. I also did volunteer gigs, especially during the Christmas holidays.
I learned that these places all have budgets for activities, and they are more than willing to pay for your services. Of course, they willingly take volunteers too.
You might want to keep in mind there are many other musicians who also frequent the nursing homes and assisted living facilities so sometimes you might have to book yourself in advance as some places have a regular schedule of musical activity, so you might not be able to just book in the immediate future.
Because you can just pick up your accordion and go, and because you need no other accompaniment with it, it makes the perfect instrument for gigs. I learned that there are many opportunities from nursing homes/assisted living, small parties, Christmas and other holiday events where one can play and earn a little extra money while doing something you really like to do – play the accordion!
And, by the way, the pay is not always little. Some pay quite well. Though it should be your goal to play as well as possible, you do not have to be ultra perfect. Most of these types of events are low-keyed and very informal.
Hopefully, my experience will inspire some of you “closet accordionists” to get out there share your talent, voluntarily or for a fee. It is also a great way to continue to promote and keep the art of playing the accordion alive! I hope I sparked your adrenalin. Be confident and proud to be able to play such a unique instrument that almost no one else you know can play!