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Central Florida Accordion Club
Featured Member for February, 2004

Vern Corbin
 
"I was twelve years old when my great uncle gave me a twelve bass accordion.
Within a week I was playing Home Sweet Home and Suwannee River".
 
Vern's mother was evidently
pleased and surprised because
she immediately signed him up for
accordion lessons. "I wondered
why she reacted so quickly, but
then I came to realize she
wanted to encourage my interest
in music since she had played
piano in movie theatres during the
silent films era. She was
constantly asking me to play her
a song which was her way of
getting me to practice".
 
Last year, Vern attended the
three major accordion events
in the United States.... The
International Accordionists
Convention in Las Vegas; The
Accordionists and Teachers
Guild festival and competition
in Chicago and the American
Accordionists Association
festival and competition in
Philadelphia. He also attended
several three day polka
festivals in Florida, Ohio and
Pennsylvania along with quite a
number of one day polka events
and dances in those states.
 
Lopez Accordion Studio in Baltimore is where I took lessons for 4-5 years from the owner and sole
teacher, Joseph Lopez, who, of all things, did not play accordion! He was a guitarist! To this day I
thank my lucky stars because he did not teach me how to play the accordion! Instead, he taught me
music...and how to "apply" it to the accordion! His studio put on annual shows which introduced me to
playing before others by performing with the band and in quartets or trios. We also performed at war
bond rallies during World War II. My favorite gig was when we played on the deck of a submarine and
the wind blew my music stand and all my music overboard!

In high school the accordion was not recognized as a band instrument so rather than join the Glee Club in
order to pursue my academic music major curriculum I started private lessons on the trombone. This lead
to my playing the trombone in the high school band, the Marine Corps. Reserves, a Marine Corps. Band in
California and the Baltimore Colts Marching Band of the NFL.
 
While in California I took lessons for one year on
how to play jazz chords and jazz music on the
accordion. Again, my teacher was a guitarist!
Also played accordion in a Country Western quintet
made up of guys from our Marine Corps Band which
was usually featured when the band gave concerts
at fairs, festivals, and the like. Was a ball!
 
Vern is a CFAC Governing Board member and performs
often at CFAC meetings. He freely gives of his talent
to help promote the accordion in the community and
has performed at Orlando's "
Senior Day" & "Arts of
Avalon".
 
Entertaining the CFAC membership with
Rose Marie Jisa on the button box at the
January CFAC meeting
 
After the service I retired my trombone, got a real job,
got married and went to Law School in the evenings. I
did, however, play the accordion on weekends in bands
throughout the Baltimore area.

Three children and thirteen years later I hung up my
accordion straps for good. For eight of those thirteen
years I had "jobbed around" with different bands and for
five years had my own group known as "Vern Corbin &
The Cordials." During this same period I practiced law
for five years in Baltimore which led to a management
career with State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance
Company. Along with opportunity and upward mobility
came the need for geographical mobility as well. Such
were the factors that entered into the equation for
hanging up my accordion and all the fun that went with it.
 
In September 2003, Vern spent 32 days in the
Mediterranean which started out with 4 days in
Castelfidardo, Italy where most of the world's accordions
are manufactured. Along with having the opportunity of
playing some extremely fine accordions his stay included a
full afternoon tour of the Beltuna accordion factory which
was both fascinating and educational. The rest of the time
consisted of two weeks touring Slovenia from one end to
the other and then a 12 day cruise out of Venice that took
him to Croatia, Greece, France, Monaco, the major cities in
Italy and ended in Spain..
 
Performing at the "Arts of Avalon",
February 2003
 
Retirement thirty-five years later
brought more time for golf and enjoying
seven grandchildren. It has only been
in the last 12-18 months that I
purchased my used Italo-American box
and started really getting back in tune.
 
The things that helped and encouraged me most over the past eighteen months were my memberships in
the Central Florida Accordion Club (CFAC), the Florida Accordion Association (FAA) and the Lakeland
Piano & Organ Club. A special note of thanks and appreciation is extended to the CFAC for everything
they do for everybody who likes the accordion. Being in these organizations has driven me to practice,
practice, practice, three different songs each month to play at the meetings. What a great way to get
back into the musical swing of things! Most especially the CFAC has been a leading incentive and vehicle
of encouragement to foster my continuing interest and enjoyment of the accordion as an instrument in
and of itself. All of this while making a host of new and wonderful friends who share their warmth,
knowledge, friendship and camaraderie with everyone in earshot of a musical note.....played on an
accordion of course! Is it any wonder I "play with pride"!

 

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