Success for East Antrim at UK accordion championships

Lauren Blackburn who was placed 6th in the 14 & Under Polka Solo Section at the UK Accordion Championships. INLT 19-666-CON

Lauren Blackburn who was placed 6th in the 14 & Under Polka Solo Section at the UK Accordion Championships. INLT 19-666-CON

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East Antrim Accordion School acquitted themselves in glory winning three first prizes in addition to five placings at the recent UK Accordion Championships held in Liverpool recently.

Principal of the school, Clyde Johnston, said he was delighted with the results, adding that the pupils had worked very hard over this past few months and fully deserved their success.

There were 11 entries from the school and to come home with such good results was remarkable considering there were some 350 entries at the championships, representing the cream of British accordionists.

The star performers were East Antrim Juniors, who were crowned Elementary Group Champions. Playing the set piece Joy of Youth by Graham Romani, they were awarded 90 points, giving them a winning margain of 6.5 points ahead of their Scottish and English rivals. The Juniors also put in an excellent performance in the entertainment category and were awarded a bronze medal.

The five members of the group also competed very successfully in various solo sections.

Thirteen-year-old Emma Dunlop, from Carrickfergus, won the Elementary Solo Section with 89 marks, which consisted of a test piece and own choice, as well as being placed 4fourth in the 14 & Under Polka Section. Last year, Emma was placed second in her graded section and this year she surpassed this by coming home as UK champion.

It was also a super weekend for 14-year-old Jonathan Wilson, from Larne, who added to his growing tally of UK prizes and also came home as a UK champion, winning the 14 and Under Polka in fine style with a mark of 92 and being placed fifth in the 15 & Under Musette in addition to leading the Juniors to their successes.

Competing for the first time at the UK Championships, the remaining three members of the group were also in the prizes. Twelve-year-old Hannah-Blackburn, from Larne, was awarded second prize in the 13 & Under Musette with her sister Lauren gaining sixth place in the 14 & Under Polka, whilst 11-year-old Abigail Park, from Ballynure, was placed third in the 11 & Under Musette.

All in all, it was an excellent weekend for the pupils of East Antrim Accordion School, with plans already afoot for attending next year’s Championships.

Since opening in 1989, East Antrim Accordion School has gone from strength to strength. As well as getting Larne recognised as an official examining centre, Clyde has been appointed the College’s Northern Ireland representative and has been made a member of thee Teachers Advisory Council.

Open to all ages from five years upwards, East Antrim Accordion School is organised along similar lines to piano schools, with pupils being taught to read music and play both the treble and bass keyboards of this very popular instrument. They can also be prepared for examinations, as set by the British College of Accordionists, compete in various music festivals or simply play for fun.

In addition, the school runs music theory classes in the summer which are open to all music students, not just accordionists.

Anyone interested in learning to play the accordion or learn music theory should contact Clyde at (028) 2827 2258 or 07882 456 880.

For those who do not have an accordion, the school has a number of instruments that can be borrowed.