Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Accordions for Islay Children Appeal: I

Just over a week ago, we noticed the following tweet on Twitter:

Island of Islay children asking twitters to help them find 6 #accordions for a #tradmusic project. Can the #Twitter community help!
And then, a few days later, we saw - also on Twitter - a link to the following post by Armin Grewe on the Islay Blog, with the background to the appeal:

Diluain, 23/Jan/2012

Accordions for Islay Children Appeal

Islay is very musical island, examples include the Islay Pipe Band, The Islay Sessions and while it seems to have changed to a whisky festival for some people the original Islay Festival - Fèis Ìle or to give it its full title The Islay Festival of Music & Malt is mainly about music. This is also where this appeal is linked to, to help keeping a musical tradition on Islay alive:
I'm not sure how long we've been following each other on Twitter, but last year I briefly met Christine (or @columbastrail on Twitter) in Kennacraig. She works for fèisean nan gàidheal , which ‘supports the development of community-based Gaelic arts tuition festivals throughout Scotland.’ This includes music tuition, leading to the tweet which caught my eye on Thursday last week:

Island of Islay children asking twitters to help them find 6 #accordions for a #tradmusic project. Can the #Twitter community help!
Some background for this request: Fèis Ìle was providing accordion lessons to a group of Islay children. They were using accordions borrowed from a Dunoon group but they now need the accordions back leaving the Islay children with no accordions. Christine turned to Twitter to ask for help and has already had some success:

Twitter has yielded 3 #accordions for #Islay #tradmusic kids. A big thank you. Still need 3 more, come on tweeps fantastic work
In other words, 50% of the target has been reached, but I'm sure 100% is possible if we keep spreading the word. It's already spreading from Twitter: newsnetscotland is reporting Twitter helping Islay children with accordion plea and ForArgyll writes Any spare accordions to help musical children on Islay?

If you have a spare accordion (or two, or three) you can either donate or loan, you can get in touch with Christine via Twitter (@columbastrail) or if you're not on Twitter you can email her at Even if you can't help directly please help by spreading the word. I'm confident by the end of the week Christine can report success with six accordions having been found for the children on Islay.

The words 'children with no accordions' and 'help', together with 'island' and 'Islay' proved a completely irresistible combination, and so we immediately wrote to Christine:

Hi Christine - we've seen your Twitter appeal for 'unloved' accordions for your excellent children's trad music project. We have lots of accordions that are currently unloved, simply because they have never been played! They are brand new. (As are we, in fact!)

The Islay blog mentions that you'd be interested in accordions on loan as well as gifted. If you'd like to borrow one of our 72-bass instruments on long-term loan, you'd be very welcome.

It would feel rather nice to be able to send one all the way from Mersea (Britain's most easterly inhabited island) to a west-coast Scottish isle. Do drop me a line if this idea would be helpful to you.

Best wishes


Christine replied:

A 72 would be perfect.

Just Googled where you are and this would make a fantastic news story of one island community coming to the aid of another.

I was wondering how to thank all the wonderful folks that have helped and I'm thinking perhaps the Islay children will write an appropriate accordion tune dedicated to all their donators, I may even write a wee ditty to go with it.

Regards Christine

We'll post the next instalment of the story here very soon.

Meanwhile, here are some of Armin's photos of the beautiful island of Islay:

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