Exercises for Improving LH (stradella)
#1
Hi I'm keen to improve my LH playing (stradella). I'm a good player (I've done grade 8), but my LH still lags behind my RH and I get frustrated with not being able to play the LH as fluently as I would like.

I learned using mainly fingers 4 to play the fundamentals and 3 and 2 to play chords. I've asked a couple of very good LH players and they've said that they use a mixture of  4 and 3rd finger to play the first 2 rows. They seem to have a flexibility that I would like to achieve

Does anyone know any exercises I could use to develop my LH? I'm a teacher and I'll have some time over the summer to work on this.

Many thanks (in advance).
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#2
(12-07-2019, 02:18 PM)Hugh Wrote: Hi I'm keen to improve my LH playing (stradella). I'm a good player (I've done grade 8), but my LH still lags behind my RH and I get frustrated with not being able to play the LH as fluently as I would like.

I learned using mainly fingers 4 to play the fundamentals and 3 and 2 to play chords. I've asked a couple of very good LH players and they've said that they use a mixture of  4 and 3rd finger to play the first 2 rows. They seem to have a flexibility that I would like to achieve

Does anyone know any exercises I could use to develop my LH? I'm a teacher and I'll have some time over the summer to work on this.

Many thanks (in advance).

Hugh - I would recommend Hanon for the Accordion edited by Charles Nunzio. There are two volumes, and the left hand gets quite the workout. Once you are done with that, I would recommend (the now out of print) Little Czerny for accordion Volume 3. PM me if you are interested in obtaining the Hanon books.

Good luck!
Petosa AM-1100 LMMH, Borsini “Lars Ek Nostalgic” LMMM, "Nunziola" LMMH
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#3
(12-07-2019, 02:18 PM)Hugh Wrote: Hi I'm keen to improve my LH playing (stradella). I'm a good player (I've done grade 8), but my LH still lags behind my RH and I get frustrated with not being able to play the LH as fluently as I would like.

I learned using mainly fingers 4 to play the fundamentals and 3 and 2 to play chords. I've asked a couple of very good LH players and they've said that they use a mixture of  4 and 3rd finger to play the first 2 rows. They seem to have a flexibility that I would like to achieve

Does anyone know any exercises I could use to develop my LH? I'm a teacher and I'll have some time over the summer to work on this.

Many thanks (in advance).

Hi Hugh,
You will likely get great specific recommendations from experienced members. In the meantime, you can use spare moments when you are away from your instrument to create little exercised to develop flexibility and independence in your left hand fingers. Figure out what you can't do well and devise little exercises to improve that. You can do similar things with your instrument. Relax and take your time.
Best,
Jim
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#4
I guess I'd want more information on what you mean by "not being able to play the LH as fluently as I would like". Are there passages in written music that you're having trouble playing? Are you simply looking for more interesting things to do with the LH (fills and such) when playing things yourself (perhaps from leadsheets, etc.)?

Generic exercises certainly have their place, but I think it's usually more helpful to identify very specific trouble spots, diagnose what the problem is, then work on ways to address that problem (which may or may not be an exercise). Rinse and repeat.
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#5
The fundamental problem with the left hand is that articulation is somewhat impaired in that the left wrist is flattened against the bass access panel and as a result the fingers are curled into a claw. Shouldn't slow any serious player down in any case.


I developed the attached exercises for chromatic button accordion. Ignore that – it's applicable to any keyboard instrument. The objectives of the patterns in the exercises is to free the individual fingers from sympathetic movement from the others and exercise all possible finger combinations. By the way, they're not supposed to sound great to begin with. Just find a register selection that doesn't scare the cat, make the dog whine, or make your wife leave. Remember, you learn music by playing the music.


See
.pdf   Basic Exersises.pdf (Size: 704.25 KB / Downloads: 76)
I want to play the accordion badly – and I do.
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#6
The complete “Hanson for the Accordion” is available for $25 from Charles Nunzio’s son: c.nunzio@att.net
Bugari “Blue 72”, Tiger Combo ‘Cordeon, Iorio Concert Accorgan G Series (electronics removed), Hohner 1974 Melodica (Piano 36)
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#7
(15-07-2019, 07:49 PM)JeffJetton Wrote: ...
Generic exercises certainly have their place, but I think it's usually more helpful to identify very specific trouble spots, diagnose what the problem is, then work on ways to address that problem (which may or may not be an exercise). Rinse and repeat.

Exactly. Connect the brain to the problem pattern. Exercises only teach you the exercise.
I want to play the accordion badly – and I do.
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#8
(25-07-2019, 07:55 PM)fphlpsnrg Wrote:
(15-07-2019, 07:49 PM)JeffJetton Wrote: ...
Generic exercises certainly have their place, but I think it's usually more helpful to identify very specific trouble spots, diagnose what the problem is, then work on ways to address that problem (which may or may not be an exercise). Rinse and repeat.

Exactly. Connect the brain to the problem pattern. Exercises only teach you the exercise.
Good advise from all y’all. Seems to me this is where a good teacher, face to face, not Skyping, would help tremendously.
Unfortunately for me, I haven’t found one in the entire state. As an accomplished pianist trying to learn Stradella and to self-analyze my difficulties, I know it takes more time than if I had a teacher.
My first goal was basic: know where every single bass note is on the instrument and be able to hit them on command. Patterns are great, but in order to improvise as I do on the piano, I have to know the road map backwards, forwards, random, sequentially, and every possible way to keep up with my advanced right hand. The ideal is to go where your mind goes.
Here’s an example of a basic difference between piano and accordion left hand that a teacher probably would have fixed early, but took me a long time to recognize. While going through the Sillari method and following his fingering, I noticed some jumps seemed harder than they should have. I suddenly realized I was trying to stretch and connect the buttons (play legato) all the time, which obviously makes jumps REALLY hard. Basic, right? None of the method books I have say that. I had to discover it myself.
I guess one good part of having to teach yourself is that you really learn something, but that also means you learn wrong habits. 
I hated Czerny and Hanon as a kid, but the one exercise book that I’ve kept is Clementi’s “Gradus ad Parnassum.” It actually develops muscles, is great for getting back into shape after a 3 week camping trip, is not boring, and is musical.
One other great thing about the accordion is that I can take it along on a camping trip!
Bugari “Blue 72”, Tiger Combo ‘Cordeon, Iorio Concert Accorgan G Series (electronics removed), Hohner 1974 Melodica (Piano 36)
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#9
(25-07-2019, 03:29 PM)Eddy Yates Wrote: The complete “Hanson for the Accordion” is available for $25 from Charles Nunzio’s son: c.nunzio@att.net

You mean "Hanon". Eddy - did you get them from Charlie?
Petosa AM-1100 LMMH, Borsini “Lars Ek Nostalgic” LMMM, "Nunziola" LMMH
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#10
(26-07-2019, 11:36 PM)Zevy Wrote:
(25-07-2019, 03:29 PM)Eddy Yates Wrote: The complete “Hanson for the Accordion” is available for $25 from Charles Nunzio’s son: c.nunzio@att.net

You mean "Hanon". Eddy - did you get them from Charlie?
Stupid spell checker!
Elena had a 4-page sample with Charlie’s email. I’m about to write him unless you think I should get them somewhere else.
I think “Hanson for the Accordion” must be a very small volume.......
Bugari “Blue 72”, Tiger Combo ‘Cordeon, Iorio Concert Accorgan G Series (electronics removed), Hohner 1974 Melodica (Piano 36)
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#11
(27-07-2019, 07:08 AM)Eddy Yates Wrote:
(26-07-2019, 11:36 PM)Zevy Wrote:
(25-07-2019, 03:29 PM)Eddy Yates Wrote: The complete “Hanson for the Accordion” is available for $25 from Charles Nunzio’s son: c.nunzio@att.net

You mean "Hanon". Eddy - did you get them from Charlie?
Stupid spell checker!
Elena had a 4-page sample with Charlie’s email. I’m about to write him unless you think I should get them somewhere else.
I think “Hanson for the Accordion” must be a very small volume.......
Yes - order it from Charlie and be sure to get both volumes.
Petosa AM-1100 LMMH, Borsini “Lars Ek Nostalgic” LMMM, "Nunziola" LMMH
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#12
It isn't entirely clear whether you want to get better at jumps or at playing bass runs. But both are needed of course.
For learning runs there is hardly anything better than practicing scales, up and down, major and minor scales.
For jumps and chord combinations there are two pieces I particularly recommend:
- Russian Dance by Shenderev: http://files.goldaccordion.com/noti/Sh/S..._tanec.pdf
- Turks Fruit by Rogier van Otterloo (arranged by me): https://www.de-bra.nl/arrangements/turks-fruit.pdf
Paul De Bra (not Debra...)
http://www.de-bra.nl
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#13
Many thanks for all the well considered and useful replies.

It's definitely melodic bass playing that I want to improve. I appreciate that regular practise of scales is a vital way of improving the LH and they are a part of my daily routine, but they haven't yet helped me make the breakthrough I'm looking for.

I play in bands and often have to come up with my own bass lines based on chords etc. I often find myself just playing root notes or chord bass patterns when I'd like to play more melodically and freely. I would struggle to play a walking bass line for e.g.
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#14
(28-07-2019, 08:59 AM)debra Wrote: It isn't entirely clear whether you want to get better at jumps or at playing bass runs. But both are needed of course.
For learning runs there is hardly anything better than practicing scales, up and down, major and minor scales.
For jumps and chord combinations there are two pieces I particularly recommend:
- Russian Dance by Shenderev: http://files.goldaccordion.com/noti/Sh/S..._tanec.pdf
- Turks Fruit by Rogier van Otterloo (arranged by me): https://www.de-bra.nl/arrangements/turks-fruit.pdf

(28-07-2019, 08:59 AM)debra Wrote: It isn't entirely clear whether you want to get better at jumps or at playing bass runs. But both are needed of course.
For learning runs there is hardly anything better than practicing scales, up and down, major and minor scales.
For jumps and chord combinations there are two pieces I particularly recommend:
- Russian Dance by Shenderev: http://files.goldaccordion.com/noti/Sh/S..._tanec.pdf
- Turks Fruit by Rogier van Otterloo (arranged by me): https://www.de-bra.nl/arrangements/turks-fruit.pdf

I think that the waltz from Khachachutrian's Masquerade Suite as played here is a good exaple

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ayh8pI8j5P0

and if there were to be an example of the old spiritual Dem bones, dem bones, dem dry bones with all those semitone step ups, that would also be an interesting watch
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#15
FYI. I did find a PDF of "AMPCO Hanon for the Accordion, book 1" on the web a while back.
I'm not sure that's entirely legal but if people want the location I can give it.

I can't say I've tried it much, I prefer actual music, but maybe I should do more exercises.
Gareth.
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#16
(29-07-2019, 06:43 PM)Glug Wrote: FYI. I did find a PDF of "AMPCO Hanon for the Accordion, book 1" on the web a while back.
I'm not sure that's entirely legal but if people want the location I can give it.

I can't say I've tried it much, I prefer actual music, but maybe I should do more exercises.
Gareth.

The edition by Charles Nunzio is not the same. It has many "accompaniments" for the bass side that are useful to improve bass technique, such as alternate positions and jumps, etc.
Petosa AM-1100 LMMH, Borsini “Lars Ek Nostalgic” LMMM, "Nunziola" LMMH
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#17
(31-07-2019, 07:08 PM)Zevy Wrote:
(29-07-2019, 06:43 PM)Glug Wrote: FYI. I did find a PDF of "AMPCO Hanon for the Accordion, book 1" on the web a while back.
I'm not sure that's entirely legal but if people want the location I can give it.

I can't say I've tried it much, I prefer actual music, but maybe I should do more exercises.
Gareth.

The edition by Charles Nunzio is not the same. It has many "accompaniments" for the bass side that are useful to improve bass technique, such as alternate positions and jumps, etc.
Zevy,
I got both volumes from Charlie. You’re absolutely right. The left hand gets a real workout. My practicing is hilarious. My right hand goes at about 100 bpm and then when I add the left hand I have to slow down to snail speed! The book IS making a difference, though.
Bugari “Blue 72”, Tiger Combo ‘Cordeon, Iorio Concert Accorgan G Series (electronics removed), Hohner 1974 Melodica (Piano 36)
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#18
Start with the right hand alone because it’s usually easier. Then do the left hand alone. Then practice both together very slowly. I took out book one last week and played through the first 31 exercises. Thankfully it went down very well. That made me feel good!
Petosa AM-1100 LMMH, Borsini “Lars Ek Nostalgic” LMMM, "Nunziola" LMMH
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#19
(16-08-2019, 02:15 PM)Zevy Wrote: Start with the right hand alone because it’s usually easier. Then do the left hand alone. Then practice both together very slowly. I took out book one last week and played through the first 31 exercises. Thankfully it went down very well. That made me feel good!
Thanks, Zevy. I look forward to that! Stradella is quite a wonderful system, but I can understand why Heifetz would want a Luttbeg! I shall be patient and diligent. 
Right now my left hand ability is pretty good for folk styles, but I have a way to go before achieving fluency that comes anywhere near my right hand.
Nunzio’s direction to change bellows every 4 bars means I have to get a LOT faster with the left hand.
Bugari “Blue 72”, Tiger Combo ‘Cordeon, Iorio Concert Accorgan G Series (electronics removed), Hohner 1974 Melodica (Piano 36)
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#20
(16-08-2019, 03:02 PM)Eddy Yates Wrote:
(16-08-2019, 02:15 PM)Zevy Wrote: Start with the right hand alone because it’s usually easier. Then do the left hand alone. Then practice both together very slowly. I took out book one last week and played through the first 31 exercises. Thankfully it went down very well. That made me feel good!
Thanks, Zevy. I look forward to that! Stradella is quite a wonderful system, but I can understand why Heifetz would want a Luttbeg! I shall be patient and diligent. 
Right now my left hand ability is pretty good for folk styles, but I have a way to go before achieving fluency that comes anywhere near my right hand.
Nunzio’s direction to change bellows every 4 bars means I have to get a LOT faster with the left hand.
What Mr. Nunzio wrote about changing bellows every four measures is a general guide. It is not meant to be taken literally. Good luck!
Petosa AM-1100 LMMH, Borsini “Lars Ek Nostalgic” LMMM, "Nunziola" LMMH
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