[quote name='m3838' date='May 1 2008, .............
Probably some offshoot of enflated self-esteem.
Folks, this is one time that I agree 100% with m3838!!!
I am probably the only one to contribute to this thread that has actual experience with the persona herein discussed.
Dan Worrall is very kind and generous in his assessment of her, but as he admits, he is without real first hand knowledge.
Looking back on my own real, first hand, experience with Helmi, there was both good and bad. It was back in about 1996 or so.
The good part was the museum where I saw my first real concertina in a glass showcase. Before that I had only seen cheap German and Italian concertinas. There was a nice Wheatstone Anglo that in retrospect looked to be from the 1950's. There was also a Lachenal (I think it was a Lachenal,) English that was a cheaper model. She had only an older Bastari for sale at the time, but it did lead me to pursue and purchase on Ebay a wonderful metal ended Lachenal English in perfect condition out of New Zealand. In our discussion, she offered me no information about concertinas.
Helmi knew little of nothing about concertinas. She claimed to be able to play everything that squeezed. She did manage a poor rendition of "Mary had a Little Lamb", after several tries. Her overall knowledge of concertinas was zilch. But she was quick to blow her own horn about how she had been picked by "Groves Dictionary of Music and Musicians" to treat the subject of Free Reed Instruments. I therefore now realize that the editors of "Groves" do not take concertinas seriously. This is most interesting as it is the only instrument the British are credited with inventing, well they did invent the English and the Duets, and must certainly have some credit for improving the Anglos, which in the early times the Germans themselves didn't take too seriously.
I brought a nice little Hohner diatonic with Irish Shamrocks decoration to her for tuning and replacing a broken reed. If I remember correctly the bill was around 200 and when it came back, it was unplayable, several reeds would not start of balked. She said she had her top person work on it and it gave him fits, and acted like "how dare I bring this instrument to her to repair and it was all my fault it gave them trouble!"
I parted with over $4,000 to her for a used accordion, (which I sold later for a 75% loss and which was way too large and heavy for a small 16 year old girl) and lessons for my daughter and consider myself having been taken advantage of. At the time of the sale she said she would always buy it back from us, which she later refused to do!!!!!!! After just three lessons she went on about teaching my daughter "interpretation" and proceeded to demonstrate. That was a joke to listen to, but I kept my mouth shut because there was no one else in the area to teach my daughter and she was so keen to learn. But eventually we parted ways when she accused me of having no right to purchase an old accordion book on Ebay that she wanted. She always sniped on Ebay and I had no idea she was going to bid against me. She then told me that if I didn't turn the book over to her she would not teach my daughter anymore. I refused and that was the end of lessons my daughter. Her last comment was "how could I have any interest or right to this old book anyway".
My opinion is that she is a type of manipulator, who is off in her own little world.
We came to Helmi with a clear picture of what we wanted. My daughter grew up listening to Edith Piaf and similar artists. She said she wanted to learn the French style of accordion. We came with an old accordion I had found in a second hand shop. Helmi made fun of how stupid we were to have bought it! I had bought it for my sons birthday, hoping he would play it, and later, when my daughter saw it, she exclaimed " But I always wanted to learn to play the accordion!" So we decided to find out what we could and wound up at Helmi's place. I think a more knowledgeable and ethical person would have offered to rent us a C system accordion, she, Helmi, did have a "Parrot" Chinese accordion, which we didn't want to buy because it looked so cheaply made and I wanted my daughter to have a really nice instrument that would inspire her to play. Helmi then could have ordered a new French accordion for my daughter of the right size and configuration. If Helmi really knew so much about accordions and music as she professed to know, this would have been a "no brainer" thing to do. We eventually got a good, top of the line, French made accordion, not from Helmi, for the same amount of money as we paid Helmi for an old Italian made accordion that was too big and heavy and wrongly configured. So we lost a lot of time and money dealing with her.
I believe few who attended her school have made much of a living out of accordions and certainly no one has learned anything about concertinas.
By the way, I don't think she knows much about playing Chemitzers either. She came with her mother on the boat after WWII. She claimed her mother made a living during the war by playing the accordion for German officers and giving them lessons. Her mother and Helmi were piano accordionists. She told me her mother set up an accordion studio around Austin, Texas and later Helmi moved to Minneapolis.
This was my experience with her, I suppose things could have been worse, but I can't think of how. We went as lambs to slaughter, and butchered we were.
I cogitated for several days and realized that if I told some of my story, others might be saved from a similar experience.
But, if you're in the neighborhood, go see the museum, it is interesting.