Recommendations for a talented child
#1
I wonder if any might be kind enough make a recommendation of the sort of accordion path to follow for an 11 year old child in the UK with the following information:
  • They read music and play a bit of piano
  • They want to play mainly classical music
  • They are bright and motivated
My questions are:
  • Free bass best?
  • Piano or Button Keyboard?
  • If button keyboard, will it confuse what they have learnt as a pianist, and if not which button system is best?
I've tried to read up on it, spoke to a few teachers and have returned with confusing and often totally contradictory information. I think the right instrument and system matters but I'm unsure how to make a choice.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.
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#2
As someone that walked that path, a few suggestions:

- If I was to start today, it would definitely be on a button accordion (C key mapping), not piano.

- Classical music? Free Bass is a definite must. TONS of piano music is out there... and for that you NEED a Free Bass instrument.

- kids learn fast... besides, if the pattern for the Free Bass (which they MUST learn anyway) is the same as the right hand, its a 2-for-1 win! Smile

- If they are bright and motivated... regular classes, likely at a conservatory or proven high level competent teacher is a must.

Now... my parents pushed way too hard, too fast and I burned out and stopped playing for 37 years. Excellent if you want a child prodigy... that plays until adolescence and stops there, possibly forever.

If you do not want that, be supportive, do NOT push too hard. Interest will wax and wain. During periods where interest falls, encourage and motivate, but understand that most kids will tend to want to stop after a few years. If you can gently nudge them over the hump (and this will happen SEVERAL times), they will regain momentum and continue to advance.

Don't push too hard.

The ability to read music is VERY important, but once a certain level of competence is reached, the next level is performance without musical notation. Kids have amazing memories. At my peak, I had easily 300-500 pieces of music I could play by heart and with minimal effort in terms of playing to retain. Encourage musical accuracy, but also encourage improvisation, both are important tools of the trade in the musical world, and to be honest, not many can do both without lots of practice. I myself find improvisation difficult, but am working on it. Smile

Most importantly, define goals, provide the best teachers you can, give them breathing room and rest time, but understand that the more regular the practice sessions are, the faster the advancements come.

Also, in terms of instruments, understand that there will be more than one, if you play this game long enough. Quality instruments are going to be expensive no matter what you play, but going for conservatory level instruments is a notch higher on the pricelist. Be ready to invest, if serious... but start with a used instrument, if you can find one.

Playing alone, but playing with others... SUPER fun and highly encouraged. Not only do they learn how to play with others, but they will see and learn from others and see different styles and it also becomes a bit of a social event for them, and that is always fun... and the more we can make anything fun, they longer they will stay with it.

That's my 2 cents. Smile
___________________________________________________________

My musical memoires blog/website: http://www.AccordionMemories.com
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#3
Hi,

My eldest daughter joined a youth orchestra when she was about 12, but packed it in when she went to university to study medicine.

To be honest, she lost interest in music when she met her first boyfriend at 16. First love is intense, and so it proved to be. Just for the record, I didn't like him. (all this was getting on for 40 years ago, incidentally)

Anyway, the point is that kids are as keen as mustard about something one day, and fed up with it the next. I confess that I was just the same at that age.

My daughter has been a Consultant Surgeon for many years now, so she proved that she could stick at something. Her first boyfriend .......... I have no idea.

Give your child all the help and support you can. If he/she has a happy and pleasant learning experience, I have no doubt that he/she can go on to great success.

Good Luck & Kind Regards,

Stephen.
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#4
Weltmeister used to make a kids sized C system freebass instrument. I have on on consignment in my shop right now.
Smythe's Accordion Center, since 1997
Oakland ,California
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#5
Thank you very much for all these very helpful replies - its great to have all these perspectives and especially the detail in Jerry's comments that address all the points. By the way - its not my child - I'm just trying to help.

This just leaves me with two questions:
- Why is C system (rather than B system or others) best for kids transitioning from the piano to accordion in the UK?
- Is there a good english language tutor book available for C system accordion suitable for children?

Many thanks again in advance of help!
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#6
(07-06-2019, 07:35 AM)saundersbp Wrote: This just leaves me with two questions:
- Why is C system (rather than B system or others) best for kids transitioning from the piano to accordion in the UK?
- Is there a good english language tutor book available for C system accordion suitable for children?

Many thanks again in advance of help!

- Because the patterns of the left and right hand match.
- I am not a button accordion player, so I do not really know, but after the initial basics are learned (what notes are where, scales, arpeggios, chord mastery), you could basically start with any book made for a piano to advance and learn from.  Others here will give better advice than I can offer on that topic.  Smile

I will give a heads up right now, though... I think it is going to be challenging to find a good teacher that plays Free Bass anywhere in the world.  They are few and far in between.  For many years I had to travel from Montreal Quebec to Toronto Ontario (~600 kilometers/375 miles each way) once a week to take courses on Free Bass accordion.  Every Saturday we would get up at 2:00AM drive there, have a 3-4 hour lesson and drive back the same day... it was grueling.
___________________________________________________________

My musical memoires blog/website: http://www.AccordionMemories.com
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#7
(06-06-2019, 10:29 PM)saundersbp Wrote: I wonder if any might be kind enough make a recommendation of the sort of accordion path to follow for an 11 year old child in the UK with the following information:
  • They read music and play a bit of piano
  • They want to play mainly classical music
  • They are bright and motivated
My questions are:
  • Free bass best?
  • Piano or Button Keyboard?
  • If button keyboard, will it confuse what they have learnt as a pianist, and if not which button system is best?
I've tried to read up on it, spoke to a few teachers and have returned with confusing and often totally contradictory information. I think the right instrument and system matters but I'm unsure how to make a choice.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Everyone’s different but my experience has been:

My own three girls went for piano, guitar, and piano accordion respectively with professional tuition.
They lasted 2 or 3 year before giving up and haven’t looked at an instrument since!

My son in law passed all the requirements for entry into the state Conservatorium of Music on both piano and violin.
Although he has been tutoring our three grandchildren through the various grades, in piano and guitar, one has discontinued, only two are keeping on and he himself plays very rarely having many other commitments.

On top of which, accordion isn’t currently flavour of the month unfortunately! Undecided
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#8
Dear Mr Saunders,

I am sure that your help and advice will be very much appreciated by the child in question. Children need help and encouragement throughout their childhood and beyond, especially when they hit the awkward time between 12 & 16.

Like Dingo, I have three girls, and I don't mind saying that they were a damned nuisance between the above mentioned ages. I hope that I was a tolerant parent, but we certainly had our moments.

My previous contribution was not meant to be advice, merely the observations of a man who has experienced every stage of his children's development.

Kind Regards,

Stephen.
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#9
As a professional musician and the father of four boys, two of whom are professionals, the first question I’d ask is, “Does your child like the accordion?” If not, find an instrument they like! One of my boys was really gifted on piano but didn’t love it. He now plays baritone saxophone, which he loves.
Bugari “Blue 72”, Tiger Combo ‘Cordeon, Iorio Concert Accorgan G Series (electronics removed)
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#10
my boy is 3 months and he starts crying when I play the accordion...
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#11
Couldn't help but put in what will not even be 2 cents worth here.

When I was a kid the accordion wasn't considered suitable for any recognised academic music studies at all here in the UK, despite the best efforts of a handful of high profile (in the UK) accordionists, who applied themselves to play classical music on them. Any of them who wished to attain recognition in the classical world were obliged to study elsewhere.

Modern accordion study is not so much about musical ability of the pupil, but is rather more dependent on the availability of a suitable instrument in countries like the UK. For most people the sheer cost of a suitable accordion would put the whole idea well out of the ballpark.

The $64,000 dollar question is does the child show any interest in the accordion, or is it yourself who is keen on the idea?

The reason I'm asking is that I had a strong desire to play bassoon when I was about 11, but was guided towards the trumpet by people who thought they knew better. To this day, 54 years later, I've never even seen a bassoon let alone played one, but the trumpet was a poor substitute and I never really took to it, as it wasn't my idea.

A bassoon? Still don't know why I wanted to play it, but I think a music teacher put the notion in my head. Glad I'm not trying to sell one though at around £8000 a pop! You could end up in precisely that situation if your child decides the accordion is a no go.

With regard to B or C system, best thing to do there is forget everything you have ever read about CBAs in the English language. Truth is they aren't popular in English speaking countries and it looks as though they never will be. There are world beaters who play on either B or C system, regardless of what other instruments they played before taking up the accordion. If a Russian or Norwegian kid wants to go from piano to accordion, they have to learn B system, as nobody can teach them C system. Added to that there are two relatively common variations of B (Do2 and Do3) and C system (International and Finnish with C in the third row) and probably others I've never heard of. In the UK somebody once decided that all CBA accordion study should be in C system, so that's really all we have here. Try and find a CBA teacher in the UK who never got there via PA and they'll all insist that it has to be C system. Best thing to do would be arrange for your 11 year old to familiarise with an accordion and see how you get on, before committing to anything concrete. It might be easier to sell unwanted concrete than an unwanted CBA accordion with a bass converter in Yorkshire.

I was obliged to try and teach myself C system, as there was no suitable teacher in my area of Scotland. I never quite managed it, so reverted to guitar where I can learn from other players with ease, as I've been playing since I was 11. When I was 32 I got bored with guitar and wanted to try my hand at something else. Wish I had chosen the penny whistle, but I believe they cost a few pounds each these days.

Hopefully, somebody will be able to guide you in a more positive light, but I used to be the flight deck electrician on HMS Hermes, the old aircraft carrier, where you quickly learned that two positives and two negatives were not a good idea, particularly the latter!
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#12
Hi Jozz,

Everyone's a critic.

Kind Regards,

Stephen.

Dear Mr Saunders,

It is not my intention to pour cold water over this child's aspirations, though I would approach this matter carefully.

Firstly, I would recommend an accordion of a type which is popular and easy to sell if things don't pan out as envisaged.

Secondly, I would buy an accordion of no more than 48 Bass for a young child.

Kind Regards,

Stephen.
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#13
Stephen,

I can remember when an accordion might have sold pretty easily in the UK, but it would have been a bottom end PA. OP is considering a CBA here. There is a market for them as they do shift, but they usually end up as trade ins on dealers' shelves for some considerable time. The nearest dealer to me took a Swiss CBA model as a trade in about 11 years ago, and he still has it, along with a SEM four row French spec CBA, which he's only had for about 5 or 6 years. Swiss one has a flat treble keyboard, and the French box only has 4 rows. 4 row in Scotland is likened to a football team with 7 men, and nobody has much use for a Swiss keyboard either.

CBAs were fairly popular in Scotland at one time, but PA has always ruled the day here, and CBAs are now few and far between.

If I was keen to have a go at classical music I think I'd opt for a triangle, but not a very expensive one. I've seen them at £300. A lot of money if you lose the beater for it down a drain!

I suppose determination is a key factor. Professor Owen Murray had to go and study accordion in Copenhagen when it wasn't possible to do so in the UK, and he was obviously dedicated enough to the instrument and its music to commit himself to that. I did consider it, so went and had a look. The beer was excellent, but the bus fares were horrific!
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#14
Just a small thought, how about a second hand Roland or similar.
I think they can do B and C system and free bass (and others) in one box.

I'm guessing they might be frowned upon by classical musicians and somebody else will have to say if they sound ok playing classical music. Or maybe look on youtube.
It also might provide more oportunities for a child to find what they like.
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#15
Just had a read of there interesting posts.
I would also suggest c system and essential to look for figuring advice and technique from some of the Lars Holm material. You can PM me also about this.
Godgie
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#16
Hi John,

That is more or less what I was saying, but in a less direct way. Accordions are very niche anyway, though the PA does have a much wider following in the UK.

Kind Regards,

Stephen.
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#17
Thank you again for all these interesting replies.

Godgie - I've sent you a PM - thanks!

I have a strange instinct about this but its interesting to hear the divergence of opinion from forum members.

My instinct is that the preference in the UK for a piano/stradella bass type instrument (which is indeed also the one I have learnt myself) might be a contributing factor to the accordions very niche status here when compared with other countries to the east. I hope that isn't an incendiary thought.....just popped into my head so probably wrong!
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#18
Hi Ben,

You could be right, though I suspect the accordion's lack of popularity may have more to do with young people demanding instant gratification. (not all young people, of course)

My musical roots are in folk clubs, so I am not really at the cutting edge of music. Members of my club bring a wide variety of obsolete instruments with them, some of them home-made. We have tin whistles, dulcimers, lutes, mouth organs, to name but a few. In fact, if you can drag it through the door, you are more than welcome to play it.

This policy of "play what you bring" ensures that we all enjoy a wide variety of instruments and musical styles. What more could you ask for?

Kind Regards,

Stephen.
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#19
(09-06-2019, 08:20 AM)jozz Wrote: my boy is 3 months and he starts crying when I play the accordion...

Tears of joy?      Big Grin   Big Grin
___________________________________________________________

My musical memoires blog/website: http://www.AccordionMemories.com
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#20
I can only think in buying a Pigini Peter Pan in C-griff system.

   

https://www.pigini.com/it/prodotti/peter-pan/

hope the kid likes it. It's a single reed instrument. Maybe showing some videos to the kids would get him more interested.

https://www.youtube.com/user/jhostnik/videos

This channel has a lot of videos of kids playing different kind of accordions.
I'm Sebastian and i Play on a Hohner Concerto III called Modesto.
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