Exercises for C system CBA
#1
I'm posting a photo of a book that I would recommend to any C system CBA player. It may be possible to download the book free, but the link that formerly related to the download no longer works. The book is frequently available on eBay and also from Amazon.fr, at reasonable cost. The author is the late Raymond Gazave, of the French accordion conservatory in Paris.  

It is not a method book, and consists of 334 exercises designed to improve finger strength and flexibility in the right hand. It doesn't matter what style of music or C system CBA accordion you play. It is aimed at newish players to the instrument, and the exercises are designed so that you are prevented from playing in a repetitive manner. They teach you to actually read what is written, instead of automatically moving the fingers into position for the next note. 

You are made to stay on the outside three rows only, with the very odd exception, and you need to be careful to use the fingers indicated in the scores. Musically, the exercises are very basic, but they are pretty tricky using the fingering indicated, and you need to concentrate hard on what you're doing. 

The first thing that will be apparent is that very conservative use is made of the thumb. However, it is given due attention, and is used in a fair number of the exercises. The object of the exercises is to strengthen the fingers of the right hand, not the thumb, which is a pretty strong digit already. A lot of players are able to use the thumb and two or three fingers of the right hand only, across all five rows, without using the little finger much at all. There is nothing wrong with that, providing it suits the music style you are playing. 

However, every now and then a "finger buster" appears, and we are all at sixes and sevens with how to cope. As you work through this book it will teach you what at first may appear to be impractical fingering for simple pieces of "music". The temptation is to say, "there is a far easier way to do that", and in most cases you will probably be correct. Again I'll stress that you are being taught how to substitute one finger for another, not find the easiest option. In most cases you would never use the stipulated fingering in the book if you were playing a tune, so what's the point?

All I can say is I almost had to give up playing altogether after an accident involving serious injury to my right hand. If it hadn't been for this book then I would never have been able to regain the strength and flexibility in my fingers. 

I'd better mention the downside. French fingering notation is used, so you have P,1,2,3,4 instead of the usual 1,2,3,4,5, with "P" referring to "pouce" (thumb). If you are likely to have an issue with working to that system the book might not be for you, although you can always write your preferred fingering notation below the score. 

I'm not a teacher so why am I qualified to recommend such a book?

Two things really. The first thing is it actually works, although I wouldn't recommend tackling more than one or two exercises at a time. There is no quick way through it, as the exercises are deliberately tricky. The second one is that it was highly recommended to me by the late John Leslie, who owned the shop "Accordions of London". John taught both B and C CBA accordion, with a preference for the former. He suggested that I did the lessons in conjunction with a method book I was using at the time, so I learned repetition from the method book and how to make better use of my fingers from the exercises. At the time I had no other option than to teach myself to play. 

Just thought I would draw attention to the book's existence. I still have my copy with the "Accordions of London " sticker on it, and every now and again I'll try an exercise or two, just to remind me that there is more than one way to do things.  

   

EDIT:- The bass side is also covered, but using the same fingering notation (1,2,3,4). There are no fancy runs, just basic accompaniment, but he has you alternating the fingers there as well.
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#2
Thanks John, I found that very one you posted the picture of on Ebay and bought it straight away. Look forward to tying my fingers in different knots for a change Big Grin
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#3
(07-02-2019, 12:56 PM)Pipemajor Wrote: Thanks John, I found that very one you posted the picture of on Ebay and bought it straight away. Look forward to tying my fingers in different knots for a change Big Grin
Hi,

My problem is I often cannot remember where I left off and I'll need to start marking them. They can be very frustrating as you'll discover, especially with placement of the little finger. After I posted the link I thought that players of CBAs with big buttons might have a bit of a struggle, but I seem to remember you saying you had a 4 row French box.

The good thing is that he doesn't expect you to change your fingering in normal playing, he just expects you to destroy your brain playing what appears to be some of the most illogical fingering you've ever seen.  

If you take a conscientious approach it should open a few doors, but there is always the temptation to rush through them and go on to the next one.

Good luck with it.
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#4
Hi John, yes the box I've got at the moment is a Paulo Soprani LMM but it originally came from Paul Buscher and is for the French market with the small buttons. I'm gradually making some headway with it after 30 odd years with a PA but I'm nowhere near mediocre yet but keep slogging on hoping that the next tutor I get will unlock the secret Undecided
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#5
(09-02-2019, 06:24 PM)Pipemajor Wrote: Hi John, yes the box I've got at the moment is a Paulo Soprani LMM but it originally came from Paul Buscher and is for the French market with the small buttons. I'm gradually making some headway with it after 30 odd years with a PA but I'm nowhere near mediocre yet but keep slogging on hoping that the next tutor I get will unlock the secret Undecided

Hi PM,

I came straight in to CBA having never played a piano keyboard in my life, but I left it too late at 32 to have any real chance of cracking it. I got to a "certain stage" with self tuition and got stuck there. Most of the musette repertoire that I had heard being played was doable with the right hand, although I did have one or two "bogey tunes". That book was a life saver when I had to learn how to use my right hand again after a bad car accident, although by that stage I had been playing for 10 years, and realised I was only going to be able to play for my own enjoyment. 

Last year I discovered a CBA teacher who only lived about 50 miles away and decided to take lessons. 30 odd years of thumb on the side except when I needed it is a very hard habit to break, and I think the best I'll get now is a sort of hybrid system. He's given up trying to get me to make much use of row 4 and doesn't even bother showing me what to do with row 5, although I believe I told him what to do with it! I played my first chord with my thumb on row 3 about a month ago, but by default the thumb is still just a paying passenger (when he isn't looking!). I have learned a few new tricks, and if I had been able to associate with more musette style players then I would have probably broken out of the corner I was boxed into.

Left hand still needs a lot of work to break the "oompah" habit, and I still have a bad habit of swinging tunes instead of reading them note for note. He tried to put a halt to that, but after a few shakes of the head he has eased off a bit.  

Don't think there is a holy grail with CBA, and I would imagine it's frustrating trying to get where you were/are with PA.

Trick with those French boxes with small treble buttons is to get to the stage where you are light but firm on them, and try not to get too many fingers involved if they are prone to getting in the way (says the guy who is still taking lessons after 30 odd years). If you're dragging on and off the buttons your fingers tend to stiffen up. If you can get your little finger to work on all four rows you'll find things get a whole lot easier, but that seems to be one of the main difficulties PA players seem to have when they convert. They're not used to having to make so much use of the little finger. Of course you don't need to use it at all, but you lose out on agility. You can actually play a C system with your hand in a position similar to B system (thumb inside and 4th finger towards the outside), but you really need 5 rows, and rethink the whole show. Toralf Tollefsen did just that, and it looks as though Finnish C system requires a similar technique, from what I've seen. 

I think quite a few makers have manufactured for Paul Beuscher over the years. Jo Privat's last PB was made by Piermaria. You do get a fair number of Paolo Soprani branded French spec boxes, but I've never actually seen one in the flesh. A dealer is selling a PB 4 row in England for just over £1000, and it looks to be in great nick. It's LMM without a tone chamber, and if I hadn't bought an old Cava last year I think I'd be interested. Don't know if it was made by Paolo Soprani, but I suppose it doesn't really matter.  

Good luck, and I hope you never paid much for the book if you decide to burn it! It can get a bit frustrating, especially when you come across something that looks ridiculously easy, but he's turned it into a chess game!
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#6
Hi John, the book was €8 including postage from France so pretty good value even if I eventually end up chucking it on the fire.
With regard to converting from PA to CBA, I originally had piano lessons as a child so am used to using the pinkie. I would think all PA players use the pinkie as much as CBA players and they also use the thumb all the time, so in theory the conversion to CBA modern fingering should be easier, but I'm not finding it's coming naturally. When I played piano and PA, right hand fingering was never a problem. My biggest problem was jumping more than an octave and a half and landing on the right note (on PA) , probably due to lack of regular exercise and practice. On the CBA I seem to end up running out of fingers in the right place and having to skip from one button to the next with the same finger or contorting the hand into unnatural shapes. 
I'm now getting to the stage where I'm thinking maybe I should go back to the PA I kept just in case, but I think  I'll persevere a while longer in the hope that it gets easier.
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#7
(10-02-2019, 08:59 PM)Pipemajor Wrote: Hi John, the book was €8 including postage from France so pretty good value even if I eventually end up chucking it on the fire.
With regard to converting from PA to CBA, I originally had piano lessons as a child so am used to using the pinkie. I would think all PA players use the pinkie as much as CBA players and they also use the thumb all the time, so in theory the conversion to CBA modern fingering should be easier, but I'm not finding it's coming naturally. When I played piano and PA, right hand fingering was never a problem. My biggest problem was jumping more than an octave and a half and landing on the right note (on PA) , probably due to lack of regular exercise and practice. On the CBA I seem to end up running out of fingers in the right place and having to skip from one button to the next with the same finger or contorting the hand into unnatural shapes. 
I'm now getting to the stage where I'm thinking maybe I should go back to the PA I kept just in case, but I think  I'll persevere a while longer in the hope that it gets easier.

The Italian methods of playing CBA all maintain that you should use whatever fingers are most comfortable across all 5 rows while maintaining the wrist at right angles to the treble keyboard. I've never really studied any of the Italian methods in any detail, but CBA players there tend to look a bit more relaxed and comfortable. When you watch French players who don't use their thumbs, some of their hand and wrist positions look very awkward, although they seem to do it naturally. After a while I realised that they must develop that flexibility in their wrists and fingers when they are a lot younger than I was when I started out, aged 32.    

I've given up playing altogether two or three times due to the frustration of the consequences of my hand injury. It is now working again but the back of my right hand often swells and gets sore, so I need to be careful I don't overdo it. Before I joined the forum 5 years ago I hadn't played at all for the best part of three years, although I had been playing guitar. 

Louis Ferrari played a lot of great French stuff on a PA, as you'll probably know already. I recently started to listen to him again, and forgot what a great player he was. I believe he was actually born in Paris but his parents went back to Italy for a while, and he possibly learned to play in Italy. He was Tony Murena's cousin, but other than that I don't know much about him. Apart from Domino and one or two other tunes few of the CBA boys played his compositions. I liked his style and it was a change from all the button rattlers.  

Paul De Bra and his wife made the switch from PA to CBA, but he said it was difficult. It was his account of how he made the change that put the notion in my head that PA players made scant use of the little finger. A large part of my difficulty in explaining things is that I've had very little association with fellow accordionists over the years, of my own volition. 

Once you get past exercise number 50 in that book you should be able to feel the benefit of it. It worked for me, but I appreciate it may not suit somebody swapping from PA to CBA. I cannot imagine what that would be like at all, but I'm sure you'll get there. I'm sure John Leslie taught PA, B system, and C system CBA. I don't know what standard he reached in any of them, but he talked me out of a switch from C to B in the early years. I nearly bought a cracking B system Crosio with Belgian basses from him, but he reckoned the changeover to different treble and bass systems at the same time wasn't really viable after having played C system with Stradella for 5 years. I never met him but he was an interesting guy to speak to on the phone, and he was always keen to help newbies. I think his shop in London is long gone. 

Keep plugging away, but keep the home fires burning just in case!
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#8
Is it possible to provide the ISBN for this book?
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#9
(02-07-2019, 07:03 PM)umitchnc Wrote: Is it possible to provide the ISBN for this book?

I also would like to get a copy of this book. I've searched ebay.com and ebay.fr many times without success. Does anyone have a copy they no longer need? Thanks.
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#10
https://www.abebooks.com/servlet/BookDet...1-_-title3
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#11
(03-07-2019, 07:16 PM)mitchnc Wrote: https://www.abebooks.com/servlet/BookDet...1-_-title3

This book has a different title than the one I am seeking. Is it the same book with a different title?
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#12
(10-02-2019, 10:52 PM)maugein96 Wrote: ...
Paul De Bra and his wife made the switch from PA to CBA, but he said it was difficult. It was his account of how he made the change that put the notion in my head that PA players made scant use of the little finger. A large part of my difficulty in explaining things is that I've had very little association with fellow accordionists over the years, of my own volition. 
...
We use all 5 fingers. I believe that my tendency to not use the little finger much stems from my days studying the piano. The little finger is less strong (and shorter) than the other fingers so it is harder to get good balanced volume using all fingers, especially with chords. On the accordion this problem does not exist. I do see that in general C system players tend to use the thumb more than B system players, which is due to the orientation of the diagonals on the keyboard. But I agree with the general Italian method of using whichever fingering you feel most comfortable with, and very often my wife and I use different fingering to play the same note sequences.
As for exercises, especially in the beginning, nothing beats boring scales and chords (notes played simultaneously or apart). Once you can play all scales and chords and chord sequences you can play anything. It's just boring, which is why people don't do this often enough.
I used no books or methods to learn CBA, just scales, chords, and then whatever pieces we wanted to play and perform.
The switch from PA to CBA takes about 6 years (in our case longer as I still cannot do sight reading/playing as well on CBA as I used to do on PA, 12 years into the transition...). But the good news is that you can start playing tunes already the first month or so, you just need to practice a lot in the beginning, and once you can play a few songs you still cannot then easily play other songs.
Paul De Bra (not Debra...)
http://www.de-bra.nl
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#13
Hi folks,

Not on here very often these days, but saw my user name flag up. 



ISBN is B00A4BK726

The photo in my original post shows what the book looks like. 

If you enter the ISBN to Google you'll see that various French language websites suggest that it is available for download, but you usually have to "register". The risks of such ventures will be well enough known to most of us, and just be aware that the websites concerned are located in Africa, in the Central African Republic, Mali, and Gabon. 

The current retail price is given as $14 US, which translates into about €12.50, or £11 GBP. 

It is a fairly old book and probably a bit "dry" compared to more modern offerings. Gazave's comprehensive accordion method ran to three volumes and was written at a time when over use of the right thumb was discouraged. However, regardless of the old thumb vs no thumb argument, the exercises will help players to develop strength and agility in all 5 right hand fingers. Most players are more comfortable using fingers 1 to 4, with poor little 5 only getting the odd "walk on" part. The exercises show you just how valuable strength and flexibility in all right hand fingers can be, but I acknowledge that it isn't easy, and players who are already accomplished may consider that they can manage perfectly fine as they are. 

The book certainly isn't a "bible", but IMHO it is a valuable source of instruction. It was recommended to me by the late John Leslie of Accordions of London, a teacher of PA, and both B and C system CBA accordions. 

He played PA professionally, and was a prominent UK judge in World Accordion Championships. He was also revered as a teacher of great ability. If he thought something was rubbish he'd tell you straight. 

I would never have known about the book if John hadn't recommended it. 

Best place to look might be ebay.fr as it does appear there from time to time.
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#14
I hate exercises. The only thing one learns is the exercise. Time is better spent learning music. One of my teachers from long ago introduced me to the following (see link):
Basic Exercises
I want to play the accordion badly – and I do.
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#15
(06-07-2019, 09:37 PM)fphlpsnrg Wrote: I hate exercises. The only thing one learns is the exercise. Time is better spent learning music. One of my teachers from long ago introduced me to the following (see link):
Basic Exercises

Is it possible to post the exercises in such a way as to make them available without having to login to a separate site? Thanks.
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#16
(07-07-2019, 12:08 AM)Jim2010 Wrote:
(06-07-2019, 09:37 PM)fphlpsnrg Wrote: I hate exercises. The only thing one learns is the exercise. Time is better spent learning music. One of my teachers from long ago introduced me to the following (see link):
Basic Exercises

Is it possible to post the exercises in such a way as to make them available without having to login to a separate site? Thanks.

Not that I know of. The link should be valid outside of the site. Pasting it as the address for web browser page should automagically download it.
I want to play the accordion badly – and I do.
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#17
Here's a copy shared on GoogleDrive:

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1u2yghQ...XM1nW7XzcS
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#18
(06-07-2019, 09:37 PM)fphlpsnrg Wrote: I hate exercises. The only thing one learns is the exercise. Time is better spent learning music. One of my teachers from long ago introduced me to the following (see link):
Basic Exercises

I was obliged to try and teach myself to play, and was unable to associate with other CBA players in pre-internet days.

Unfortunately that meant learning from books, exercises, the lot. I do appreciate that time is best spent learning to play music, but if you're struggling with technique, how do you achieve that? A fair number of members are either new players, or people possibly interested in changing from PA to CBA.

Best just do what you've been doing from long ago. Seems you've had the benefit of several teachers, and that has probably made all the difference. CBA teachers have always been a very rare breed in most English speaking countries. I would consider the fact that you found more than one was very fortunate indeed.
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#19
(07-07-2019, 08:01 AM)Glug Wrote: Here's a copy shared on GoogleDrive:

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1u2yghQ...XM1nW7XzcS

Thank you.
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#20
(07-07-2019, 08:31 AM)maugein96 Wrote:
(06-07-2019, 09:37 PM)fphlpsnrg Wrote: I hate exercises. The only thing one learns is the exercise. Time is better spent learning music. One of my teachers from long ago introduced me to the following (see link):
Basic Exercises

I was obliged to try and teach myself to play, and was unable to associate with other CBA players in pre-internet days.

Unfortunately that meant learning from books, exercises, the lot. I do appreciate that time is best spent learning to play music, but if you're struggling with technique, how do you achieve that? A fair number of members are either new players, or people possibly interested in changing from PA to CBA.

Best just do what you've been doing from long ago. Seems you've had the benefit of several teachers, and that has probably made all the difference. CBA teachers have always been a very rare breed in most English speaking countries. I would consider the fact that you found more than one was very fortunate indeed.

As far as learning technique on your own, the only suggestions I can make are: find the pattern that will allow you to play a phrase smoothly and advance on to the next. Remember that the accordion is a "breathing" instrument. Find a consistent and repeatable point in the music to change the bellows direction. Most importantly, record yourself. There is nothing more illuminating or humbling than to hear yourself as others would. Listen to other players to hear how they bring the instrument into music.

I am strictly an amateur. Out of four teachers, I've had only one teacher who focused on CBA. She has gone on to other pursuits outside music. My own history with accordion is fragmented and uninteresting. 30 years ago I bought a well–used 1947 Hohner Gola: piano right hand, stradella left hand, with a separate 3 row free-bass.  20 years ago I found a Giullietti Contninental C – chromatic right hand, 5 row free bass in the left hand. My interest in music is primarily baroque, classical, and early 20th century jazz. Piano is a percussive instrument. Accordion is primarily a wind instrument. Properly played it rivals the violin in replicating the human voice. Bach now sounds lyrical, Ellington's chords flood the senses.

The most complete instruction book for CBA is Elsbeth Moser's "Das Knopfakkordeon C-Griff", Sikorski Musikverlag, Hamburg. For the last 10 years, I have been working on an English translation. In the last year, I have been working with Dr. Moser on the final version. Hopefully, it will go Sikorski later this month for publication. Her original work is carefully written in precise German, and genuinely inaccessible to English speakers. The content of the English version is as close to the original as possible. My approach to the language is to make it comprehensible to a moderately bright 12 year old. The only change for the English version is in the diagrams, to present both the left and right hands as if the musician were viewing the instrument in a mirror. This presentation eliminates the mental step of re–orienting the original face–on to the keyboard diagrams, enables the musician to relate to the diagrams directly, and enhances transfer of the patterns to the keyboard when the manual is studied from a music stand. Once the player has viewed themselves in the mirror, the transfer of the physical image of the keyboard in the mirror to the mental image presented by the keyboard diagrams will be direct and immediate.

She and her team put together a massive amount of research, thought, and work over several decades to bring her work into its final German form. The way I describe her text is, that while Bach demonstrated what could be done with the clavier in “Das Wohltemperierte Klavier”, her book shows how to build music from the bayan. A familiar quote from Bach is “all one has to do is hit the right notes at the right time and the instrument plays itself”. Dr. Moser’s work shows the student not only how to hit those notes, but also how to recognize those
notes in the pattern of the music in front of them.
I want to play the accordion badly – and I do.
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