Taking up the baton of Jim Jausoro and, especially, her teacher, friend, and mentor Bernardo Yanci, Mertxe Mendive wants to keep the accordion sound alive in the US (Photos: M.M. and E.E.C.)
Musician Mertxe Mendive and 'pilotari' Fernando Lejardi left Miami, Florida recently, after the latter retired from professional Jai Alai, to move to Mendive's hometown, Elko, Nevada. The accordionist, “an indefatigable worker,” as some of her friends put it, couldn't wait to start collaborating with the Euskal Etxea and is already playing at the Club's dance practices, on Sundays. After the summer, she will be teaching fellow members how to play this traditional Basque instrument.
Elko, NV. “This is my personal contribution to all of you in helping make our organization even greater,” stated Mendive on the Elko Basque Club's Facebook page's post. Tentatively starting in September, she will be teaching accordion classes to members of the Euskal Etxea, aged 10 and older, free of charge. “I know some of you may want your younger children to learn,” she explained. “But the younger ages require much slower paced instruction, which will be difficult since we will be learning and progressing as a class.”
Mendive has not decided yet how she will impart the classes, but announced them with plenty of time to give people time to find an accordion to use. “I don't recommend purchasing one until you know it's an instrument that you are going to put the time and effort into,” said she.
A call to other Clubs
The musician admitted feeling “goosebumps” when she sees the trikitixa students in Boise, Idaho play. She believes music is “one of the most significant elements in our (Basque) culture” and that “if we don't pursue it now, be it triki, accordion, or pandero, we're going to lose it.” And she added: “I don't want to go to a festival with pre-recorded music. I want to listen to it live, I want to see it.” That's why she would like to see more and more Euskal Etxeas teaching any of these essential instruments to the youngsters.
In the name of Bernardo Yanci
The late Bernardo Yanci was Mendive's teacher and “mentor,” and she now feels she has to take up the baton and not let the music stop: “He wasn't just my teacher, he was a great influence in my life. Without the accordion, my entire world would be completely different. It is my happiness and my life, and he is the main reason for that. Now it's more important than ever for me to teach it, because if I don't do it, who is going to?”
The Elko native speaks with love and passion about her influential friend, who is no longer with us, and she also remembers Jim Jausoro. “They both played beautifully, with style and technique, and that's what we should teach to the younger generations. I'd love to pass that knowledge to the students and, also, to my own daughter.” And she quipped: “Well, she doesn't have a choice.”
*If you are interested in taking accordion classes with Mendive contact Elko Euzkaldunak Club: Via Facebook or their website.