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Thursday, September 21, 2017

DSU professor Phyllis Edamatsu shows off her musical side | Dover Post

"It can be said that Phyllis Edamatsu is a tiny woman with a very large presence, particularly when she’s playing music" according to

Photo: Phyllis Edamatsu

Edamatsu is director of Delaware State University’s research, planning and analytics office, and an adjunct mathematics professor at the school. However, she sheds her scholarly mien whenever she takes up her favorite instrument, the accordion. 

She’s been playing since the age of 8 and is a member of several professional groups.

Edamatsu, who always had a fascination with music and musical instruments, began learning the bellows-driven instrument because her family, living in Spokane, Washington, didn’t have room for a piano. 

“At the time our living room was too small for one,” she said. “Later on, my dad built onto the house and so my sisters were able to take piano lessons. 

“By that time I was pretty comfortable with the accordion and didn’t want to switch.”

“The parents of one of my closest friends in grade school had a nightclub, and they had a friend who was an accordion player with her own band, the Gay Rancheros,” Edamatsu recalled. 

At the time, the band leader, Lucille Taylor, was just starting to teach the accordion, she said. Edamatsu saw Taylor perform at a school PTA meeting and was hooked. 

“My friend and I became Lucille’s first students,” she said. Because Taylor could not carry the accordion during her pregnancies, she switched instruments and ended up teaching Edamatsu’s three sisters when they learned the piano. 

As her confidence grew, Edamatsu began playing at school meetings, churches, and talent shows. At one time she played duets with a partner whose appearance and choice of instrument was just the opposite of her own. 

“We were teased a lot,” she recalled. “She was a big farm woman who could pick up bales of hay, but who played the piccolo. And there I was, barely five feet tall, carrying around an accordion.” 

When Edamatsu went off to college, her accordion made the trip as well. 

“In the dorms, my house mother would let me practice in the luggage storage room,” she said.

Learning lessons
Even though Edamatsu has been playing for years, she still works to hone her skills, making the 90-minute trip almost weekly to take lessons at the Acme Accordion School in Haddon Township, New Jersey. 

The school was founded in 1948 by Stanley Darrow and his late wife, Shirley.
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Source: Dover Post