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.
Reply
#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
Reply
#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.
Reply
#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
Reply
#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!
Reply
#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.
Reply
#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!
Reply


Forum Jump: