By CAROL PENTON
Special to The Pilot
FOGO ISLAND — In 1991 Gerald Freake took five young Grade 6 students, all from the community of Joe Batt’s Arm, and taught them to play the traditional button accordion.
These ladies became known as the Fogo Island Accordion Group and were featured on television shows travelling to various parts of Canada performing their lively entertainment for music festivals and lively affairs everywhere. It is fair to say that the Fogo Island Accordion Group kept many toes a tappin’. These days those little girls have grown to become fine ladies with children of their own who can also be seen holding little accordions.
Fast forward to 2012 where you’ll find Mr. Freake’s passion for the accordion and his faith in the potential of today’s youth embracing this musical tradition continuing.
While his number of students might be a bit smaller these days, he has two that are budding stars and who love to play the music.
One of his current students is 13-year-old Mark Warrick, who just launched his very first CD titled Waltz of the Wind. Mark’s recording features many traditional accordion tunes.
Mark openly and happily admits that in the beginning he started off slowly practicing pieces such as Happy Birthday.
“I have come a long way since Gerald starting helping me,” Mark said.
Watching and hearing Mark, you will see a young teenager who is very relaxed and confident.
Mr. Freake also teaches 10-year-old Kyra Morgan.
“Kyra is a very determined young lady,” he says, “who never misses a practice and even calls ahead of time to ensure that everything is a go.
“I have only been teaching her for a few months and she picks up very easily.”
Kyra’s Grandmother Donna Rowe often drives her from her home in Seldom to attend the practice.