NAAC Launches New Educational Projects

NAAC Launches New Projects, by Laura Jean Niland

Over the past week, the North American Accordion Collaborative (NAAC)  Education and Access Committee has been busy working together with Accordion Renaissance (AR), a Virginia-based non-profit, to submit workshop proposals for the Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) Convention March 17-21, 2018 in Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort.  Laura Jean Niland (NAAC Education Committee Chair), Jim Rice (Accordion Renaissance, President), Brian Berlin (NAAC Education Committee member) and Ina Yakubeika (Accordion Renaissance conductor and instructor) have completed two proposals for consideration. 

The first proposal, Vertical Keyboard Lessons in the Elementary School Classroom, presented by Brian Berlin and assisted by Ina Yakubeika, will explore lessons learned from introducing the accordion to children in an elementary school music program. Strategies for including the accordion in the elementary music curriculum will be explored with video documentary of classroom experiences from Brian Berlin’s students and Ina Yakubeika’s inter-generational Accordion Ensemble. 

Brian Berlin, M.A. in Music Education is an elementary school music instructor at Pearland Texas ISD.  Ina Yakubeika,  M.A.T.  in Music and Art Education from Belorussian State University of Culture and Art and a piano, accordion and bayan instructor,  is a private music teacher and director of the Accordion Renaissance inter-generational Ensemble. They have introduced the vertical keyboard (piano accordion) to young students in their respective settings:  the elementary school music program and after school programs with individualized learning and group interaction.  

Brian Berlin and Ina Yakubeika collaborated and jointly presented the First Piano Accordion Lesson Workshop to keyboard trained youth ages 4-18 at the National Accordion Association Conference 2016.  This premiere workshop validated the belief that musical knowledge and skills from a keyboard can easily be transferred to a new instrument, namely the piano accordion. 

Innovative lessons that engage students and energize the music classroom will be shared and explored.  Methods of managing the classroom, teaching young children in solo and ensemble performances and working with exciting music for the accordion and other keyboards will be shared.   The intent is to demonstrate to music educators that the accordion should be viewed as a keyboard instrument with a wide-range of capabilities and can easily be included in classroom instruction. 

The second proposal, Explore the Vertical Keyboard, the Versatile Accordion!, presented by Ina Yakubeika and assisted by Brian Berlin, will expand attendee's teaching experience with explorations on the accordion. Accordions will be provided for participants to use during the workshop. This hands-on workshop will encourage music teachers and keyboard instructors to add this instrument to their teaching repertoire and provided guided lessons and strategies for implementing the accordion for their students. This workshop will validate the belief that musical knowledge and skills from a keyboard can easily be transferred to a new instrument, namely the accordion.  Participants will explore the different voices of the accordion, bellows articulation and expression and bass/chord circle of fifths arrangement of the bass buttons.  The intent is to demonstrate that the accordion has many applications as a keyboard and rhythm instrument that can easily be incorporated into primary and secondary school programs, particularly middle school and high school jazz ensembles.  

Additional proposals are being considered for the upcoming National Association for Music Educators Conference March 22-24, 2018, featuring Music Research and Teacher Education; as well as examining the role of NAAC and AR in large regional NAfME conferences and state conferences in all 50 States.  Reviewing options for presentations across USA, Canada and Mexico will be considered as options become available.

The general purpose for these presentations is to increase the number of instructors teaching accordion in public and private school environments as well as in music studios and private instruction.  Providing advice, assistance and ongoing support for those wishing to engage in their own accordion project will be an important factor for consideration by NAAC. 

Additionally, there is a desire to encourage music instructors to add to their repertoire by learning about the accordion and adding this to the instruction delivered in their studios. This will require opportunities for these instructors to attend hands-on workshop training, which NAAC may wish to consider for maintaining the vertical increase in both accordion instructors and students.

Another project that Laura Niland and Brian Berlin are working on is the establishment of the North American Fellowship Program. This project will be designed to train a cadre of accordion instructors in the best-methods, techniques, and strategies for teaching accordion in order to launch a series of workshops across North America that will improve training for teachers and students.  Applicants will be considered for the Fellowship Program and selected by Committee. The goal is to increase the number of accordion teachers as well as students, therefore, the Fellows will be creating Outreach projects across North America to reach our goals.  The project’s initial design is being formulated by the team Niland-Berlin.  There will be more information upcoming. 

We hope this gives you a good idea of some active projects for NAAC.  


Laura J. Niland

NAAC Board Member and Chair of the NAAC Education and Access Committee