Local musicians enjoy playing unique instrument

By Staff
Haley Aaron, Hartselle Enquirer
Walk into Holladay Antiques and strains of a Bach fugue or The Blue Danube Waltz or the music of John Denver or Hank Williams may greet you. But no matter what the style of music may be, the source is always the same. Two musicians sit in the middle of the store, intently focused on the music on the stands in front of them.
Meet Rachel Slate and Sandy Hughes, accordionists extraordinaire, who will be quick to tell you the accordion is not just for polka anymore.
The accordionists’ repertoire ranges from classical to popular to religious and everything in between. Well, almost everything.
Slate began taking accordion lessons when she was 15 and took lessons until she entered college. Hughes started teaching herself to play the accordion when she was a junior in high school, after her parents borrowed an accordion for her to practice with.
However, both trace their love of the accordion to an earlier age.
She was inspired to play the accordion after watching Myron Floren play on the Lawrence Welk Show.
Slate traces her love of the accordion to watching a woman play the instrument when she was three or four.
While both Slate and Hughes continued playing the accordion as a hobby, they had mostly put aside their accordions before they met and began practicing and performing together.
Slate and Hughes met and began practicing together around 12 years ago, after Slate’s grandson had music class with Slate in fifth grade. “We’ve been playing full speed ahead ever since,” said Slate.
They first began meeting to practice at Slate’s home, which then housed her antique business. After Slate moved her business to Main Street, the accordion practices followed. Along with more traditional antique store fare such as furniture and glassware, Slate tries to keep accordions in stock, and anyone who purchases an accordion from her store receives five free accordion lessons from her.
Hughes, who teaches music to kindergarten through fifth grade students at Crestline Elementary, has found ways to use her skills as an accordionist in the classroom.
Occasionally, Hughes has taken her students caroling at hospitals, nursing homes, and through town. Once, they even participated in a parade, where Hughes and her students rode in a wagon. She stood on a bale of hay and played the accordion while her students sang.

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