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Getting it right

An artist I was working with sent me designs for the cover of my mystery novel coming out soon. (More on that another time.) It looked great, except for one big problem. It featured a concertina, not a piano accordion, which is the instrument the main character in the book plays.

People who don't play the accordion often assume that all instruments with a set of bellows are the same thing. Of course they are not. It never occurred to me to give the artist a quick lesson on accordions before she began. Later, when I decided to work with a different artist, I did  give her a brief explanation, carefully describing piano accordions. One of her proposed designs still featured a concertina. Sigh. 

Another problem that occurs with non-accordionists involves photographs. When I first started CAPA many years ago, a Chicago newspaper ran a story with a photo of me playing the accordion, but they printed it backwards. I got letters asking where on earth I'd found a left-handed accordion. Worse, someone asked if I was playing the instrument upside down. 

Of course, accordionists themselves can get things wrong. I am one of them. I was around age 40, having played the accordion for 36 years, before someone pointed out that I'd been spelling "accordion" wrong all my life. It does not end in "an," as so many people think. As a generally good speller, I was mortified. I don't make that mistake any more.

My biggest accordion mistake, though, involved not only me but my whole staff at the time, as well as a whole lot of CAPA members. Through CAPA, we were then selling a bumper sticker that had the word "accordion" on it. We sold the bumper sticker for two years before someone finally noticed that we had somehow managed to put three "Cs" in the word "accordion." We didn't see the mistake. The people who bought the bumper sticker didn't see the mistake. No one noticed for two years. I guess it's true that we see what we want to see!

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