C-system fingering. Scales.
#1
I am now a few weeks in to getting to grips with the chromatic button accordion.  C-griff.  I am learning a few easy pieces, and attempting to master scales.  I have several tutorial books, and a very good teacher who, however plays the other keyboard, B-griff.  I sort of worked out my own fingering for scales, which I tended to vary with each attempt.  At my last lesson my teacher picked me up on this and advised me to use the same fingering every time.  Which seems reasonable.

So I set about reviewing the recommendations in my three books.  They are: Anzaghi, Lucien & Richard Galliano, and Manu Maugain.  Each book prescribes different fingering.  Admittedly there are, unsurprisingly, some areas of agreement, but certainly for the scales of C, F, & G major which I am concentrating on just now, there are substantial differences.  Should I just pick and choose those which I find most comfortable, or is there some unifying rule?  Sadly, at 71, my right hand is a little less agile than it was fifty years ago.
Elderly teenager still experimenting with music of all descriptions.  I may not please anyone else, but I’m long past caring about that.
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#2
I admire your efforts at the age of 71 to start to learn C-system CBA, and you have chosen some good starter tutorials or method books.

However, you already sense what I'm about to say..., your accordion teacher (B-system player) should have sent you to a C-system graduated accordion teacher.
Both systems share the same logic, chromatic uniform layout, but the angle for the right hand is very different, making these 2 totally different layouts.

If there is no C-system accordion teacher available in your area, why didn't you start with B-system accordion with the aide of your B-system teacher ?

If your teacher does not play C-system himself or herself, you are heading for troubles regarding fingering technique...

Would you take lessons Chinese with a Spanish language teacher ? Or would you go to a Chinese language teacher?

That's my humble personal opinion: B-system and C-system learners need teachers trained in the exact same system.
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#3
My wife and I started on CBA (C griff) after decades of PA, and while we consider that we started too late we were nowhere near 71...
A good teacher can help you even when he or she is B griff player. Stephen's reasoning is a bit wrong. It should read: Would you take lessons Chinese with a Spanish language teacher? Or would you decide to learn Spanish instead because that's the teacher's language?
If you want to learn C griff, learn C griff. Fingering can be found in books, and you should use what you find most comfortable. The most important thing about learning to play the C-griff chromatic button accordion is learning to play the accordion. And your teacher should be very capable in teaching you that!
Paul De Bra (not Debra...)
http://www.de-bra.nl
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#4
(06-08-2019, 07:13 PM)Stephen Wrote: I admire your efforts at the age of 71 to start to learn C-system CBA, and you have chosen some good starter tutorials or method books.

However, you already sense what I'm about to say..., your accordion teacher (B-system player) should have sent you to a C-system graduated accordion teacher.
Both systems share the same logic, chromatic uniform layout, but the angle for the right hand is very different, making these 2 totally different layouts.

If there is no C-system accordion teacher available in your area, why didn't you start with B-system accordion with the aide of your B-system teacher ?

If your teacher does not play C-system himself or herself, you are heading for troubles regarding fingering technique...

Would you take lessons Chinese with a Spanish language teacher ? Or would you go to a Chinese language teacher?

That's my humble personal opinion: B-system and C-system learners need teachers trained in the exact same system.
Thank you for your swift response, Stephen.  I understand your arguments, indeed, I considered them before I embarked on the purchase of an instrument.  I have taught myself to play guitar, banjo, mandolin, and diatonic accordion; I fully intended to do the same with the chromatic button accordion (cba).  

I started with the tutors I mentioned and found little difficulty with the right hand keyboard, but I found myself struggling with the stradella keyboard.  I chose the C-system as it appeared to involve a similar anatomical position of the right wrist and hand to that used on the diatonic accordion.  I considered the so called British Chromatic Accordion, as championed by the late Sir Jimmy Shand, as this is closer to the bisonoric diatonic accordion, but such instruments make rocking horse faeces look like a public health emergency.  I would have asked a c-griff teacher if one had been available locally, but none was to be found.  I contacted a couple of players locally, and both encouraged me to go it alone.  Actually my teacher has proved most helpful in the matters of bellows technique (so different from the bisonoric instrument) and, of course, the stradella keyboard.

I don’t think your comparison between Chinese and Spanish languages is a good one.  Spanish and Italian perhaps, more Spanish and Catalan.  Maybe Danish and Swedish.  In an ideal world I would find a C-griff tutor, but I have known for a very long time that this world is far from ideal.
Elderly teenager still experimenting with music of all descriptions.  I may not please anyone else, but I’m long past caring about that.
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#5
In my humble opinion it won't matter which scale finging you use.  I think it is worthwhile to study and practice scales (although I never do).  If, at your age your mission is to play music for yourself and others (rather than to play scales for them) you will find that rather than play the songs with the same subscribed fingers placement of the scales, you will move your hand around based on familiarity of the keyboard and dictates of the tune.  So, my advice, for what it is worth, is to enjoy the ride by playing tunes you know and like to play.
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#6
Chris,

Finding a B system teacher in the UK is akin to winning the lottery with the first six numbers drawn! A C system teacher would be preferable, but even they are difficult to find.  

I'm not a teacher or a pro player, but have had a sort of on-off affair with the C system CBA for over 30 years. 

Best decide between you and your teacher which book you plan to use, and stick with it. In time you'll learn how to use the CBA in patterns across as many rows as you like that will suit your right hand, and you can then throw all the fingering charts away. There were once a handful of French sheet music books which gave suggested fingering for several well known musette tunes. I use the word "suggested", as depending on the learning method you were familiar with, they were often not of much use at all.   

I've seen at least a dozen different CBA methods and the fingering in each one is unique to that method. 

Good luck with your progress, and any teacher is better than none at all. I tried to do it all on my own but fell well short of the mark. Got a lot of enjoyment out of pretending I was a great player though!

As to what is right and what is wrong, if you want to go down the classical road and get a lot of certificates to show off to your friends there may indeed be only one "correct" way.

However, if you want to make a fortune out of playing popular music just for the hell of it, then watch Raul Barboza in this clip breaking just about every accordion rule in the CBA book. The tune is an impromptu fusion of Argentinian Chamame and French musette. Doesn't matter what fingers you use, how many shoulder straps you have, or whether you bother to play the basses. You just turn up, play the box, and get enough for a slap up meal and your flight back home to Argentina, all for a few minutes effort, in a style you developed yourself.

Barboza teaches B system CBA in Argentina, and all his pupils just use the right shoulder strap only. I don't think they bother to copy his fingering though, once they get to grips with the instrument.

Daian Gobbi, a Brazilian accordionist, plays PA, and both B and C system CBA. You'll find him on You Tube.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EMtnveGHYsQ
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#7
Paul, we the forum members, all respect your wise comments as a moderator and accordion repairer.
And members know we two have different opinions about accordion teaching and CBA fingering techniques.

On this point I want to defend my position.
(I would not change and learn Spanish, no, I would choose a Chinese language teacher, be it a native speaker or a foreign speaker who mastered in Chinese)

"Fingering can be found in books" ? Yes, only the basics. But only a live teacher can really learn you good techniques for playing accordion.
You need books + a personal accordion teacher (and at the end of your accordion study, more than one teacher, it's good to follow masterclasses and compare teaching methods)

You started as a PA accordionist and switched to CBA at a mature age.
I started with CBA from the beginning, and had 4 CBA teachers (+ some masterclasses later), and did the official public music school traject of 10 years in Belgium.
Believe, I have had contacts 30 CBA accordion teachers in those days, and NONE of them taught both systems.
They ALL advised their pupils to start with the exact same system they played.

If there were persons who already bought another system accordion, they sent them to the other system teacher, and that is the correct and sincere way of working.
They could be honest, because their salary was independent of the number of pupils ! Music schools were public state schools.

Some private accordion teachers in Belgium will accept EVERYone, because of the money... (not everyone of course, there are also honest private accordion teachers)
Some private accordion teachers simply are dishonest or lie to the ignorant beginners about their teaching skills.

Forgive me my language, but don't take lessons from accordion teachers who accept all systems: diatonic, PA, C-system, B-system.

You need people trained in that one particular system.
Accordion teachers who don't admit this, are simply keeping you in a long traject of many years, so they can earn more money.


Can you imagine at conservatory a guitar student taking lessons with a mandolin teacher ?
Or even a violin student taking lessons with a cello teacher?
Or a piano student taking lessons with a Janko piano teacher?

The conservatory accordion teachers I have known said to me it was very confusing to play both B-system and C-system at the same time. I never knew anyone who was good in both systems. They sticked to one layout.

And in my opinion CBA fingering techniques are an essential part from the beginning. If it goes wrong from the start, you loose a lot of time correcting this. Try to get out of your muscle memory bad fingering habits, it will take you a long time.
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#8
Accordions can be found in shops, or ordered by mail, teachers can't. IF it's that important to match system it would make more sense for Chris to change system than change teacher.
But, although I'm sure Stephen is technically correct, I don't think Chris is planning on learning perfect technique to cope with the most challenging repertoire.
I think the amazing thing about the CBA keyboard is that it is so flexible there is no one right way. The books say different things because different things work.
I'd say apply some basic principles, try to stick to the same fingering each time but be willing to change it if you find something better, don't hop the same finger from button to button, try to even out the load - your little finger will probably be weak and your thumb may do too much on the outer row etc.
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#9
(07-08-2019, 05:09 PM)TomBR Wrote: Accordions can be found in shops, or ordered by mail, teachers can't. IF it's that important to match system it would make more sense for Chris to change system than change teacher.
But, although I'm sure Stephen is technically correct, I don't think Chris is planning on learning perfect technique to cope with the most challenging repertoire.
I think the amazing thing about the CBA keyboard is that it is so flexible there is no one right way. The books say different things because different things work.
I'd say apply some basic principles, try to stick to the same fingering each time but be willing to change it if you find something better, don't hop the same finger from button to button, try to even out the load - your little finger will probably be weak and your thumb may do too much on the outer row etc.

This is the first time I’ve employed a music teacher for myself for over fifty years.  It’s working fine thanks.  I managed to work out fingering for the diatonic accordion OK, but I was somewhat bemused to find such wide variation in recommended fingerings for scales.  I shall, as I did for guitar, find what works best for me.  I’m intrigued by your assertion that the thumb may do too much.  My little finger gets used lots on the diatonic box, this seems to keep it agile enough to press buttons.
Elderly teenager still experimenting with music of all descriptions.  I may not please anyone else, but I’m long past caring about that.
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#10
(06-08-2019, 08:40 PM)Stephen Wrote: ...
You started as a PA accordionist and switched to CBA at a mature age.
I started with CBA from the beginning, and had 4 CBA teachers (+ some masterclasses later), and did the official public music school traject of 10 years in Belgium.
Believe, I have had contacts 30 CBA accordion teachers in those days, and NONE of them taught both systems.
They ALL advised their pupils to start with the exact same system they played.
...

Of course you are right that it is best to take lessons from a teacher who plays the exact same system you want to learn.
Alas, good teachers in the right system are not as easily available as they are in Belgium (and even there the closest one may not be one with the system you want).  I also consider that with a relatively young instrument the first generations of players were self-taught by necessity. I did have a teacher in the beginning when I learned PA, but later taught myself the melody bass and later still I also taught myself CBA with C system. I do fully realise that for most players a good teacher is absolutely necessary and books are not enough.

You were very lucky to have been able to go through the official public music school trajectory in Belgium with accordion.
I too have gone through this trajectory, but with piano, and I had to keep it a secret (except to my piano teacher) that I played the accordion because accordion players belonged on the street and in pubs and anyone who dared to touch that awful instrument disqualified themselves from ever becoming a good musician (I am not exaggerating here!).
It was only by the time I was finishing music school (and obtaining the "regeringsmedaille") that the first attempts at teaching accordion in a music school and at the conservatory were starting (by Jules Willems in the "rijksacademy" and Hubert Kicken at the conservatory, both in Antwerp). Boy, this now feels like ancient history...
The argumentation that a teacher can only teach one system well was probably one used in the (fortunately failed) attempt to allow only one system in music schools. Fortunately for the Belgian accordion world too many people, mostly in the south-west, were playing C system and too many, mostly in the rest of Flanders, were playing B system to reach agreement on just one system so the end result was that both C system and B system were allowed, albeit only with international bass layout (not with the Belgian layout). Sadly PA fell by the wayside, so beginners were forced to learn the CBA. If you really wanted PA you had to take lessons in the Netherlands where PA is still very popular and still also taught at the conservatory.
12 years into CBA now I am beginning to believe that I will never be as good on CBA as I was on PA, especially in immediately playing new songs, without study. But CBA has really won me over, so I'm not going back. The only times I still play PA is when I get a PA in for repair and need to play it to diagnose its problems and later check whether I really cured them.
Paul De Bra (not Debra...)
http://www.de-bra.nl
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#11
The CBA camp is glad to have such a dedicated accordion enthusiast, repairer and accordion orchestra conductor in its ranks like you !

I'm sure, if you had the opportunity to follow the same traject as I did, it wouldn't have taken you 12 years to switch from PA to CBA.

In comparison, Renée from Toeac, who was a PA player, did about 1 year to switch from PA to CBA. And now she's as good with CBA as her duo CBA partner Pieternel. ('t Was I who talked her into it... )
http://www.toeac.nl/Duo-Toeac/nl-NL/biografie.aspx

Normally, a switch from PA to CBA, with a good teacher, shouldn't take more than 6 months to 2 years maximum.
I have known conservatory students, who followed 10 years PA in their youth, and had to switch in the first year at conservatory. It takes them about 6 months usually.

But... you have to burn your ships like Cortez !

Is there by any chance a piano in your living room? And do you still like to play some Mozart ?
Eg if you continued to play piano music, while making the transfer from PA to CBA, I imagine that can be hard on the brain to cope with.

When you are fond of piano playing, and like to play Mozart or Beethoven, it's hard to resist the siren's call from the piano.
(my hero is Ludwig van Beethoven, I listen to his music every week, more and more. I wish I could play the piano to play his sonatas ! But I'm satisfied with listening to cd's, I'm not going to start to learn the piano keyboard, not with what I know about Juan Caramuel y Lobkowitz, Janko and others)
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#12
Hi Paul,

Interesting to hear how it all works from a Belgian perspective, where I believe there are still three different types of CBA available, the same as in the north of France around Lille. The old fashioned B system Do2 is probably on its way out, but they're still regularly offered for sale in France.  

I have mentioned it before, but here in the UK no type of accordion at all was deemed suitable for classical music study until 1986. 

Consequently, it still tends to be mainly used for the less formal music styles here, the same as it is in many other countries.

Don't think I could cope with playing a version of an instrument that I knew I wasn't so proficient on as another, but it would appear that a lot of PA players just want to play CBA for whatever reason. Most UK types look on in fascination at CBA accordions, but have no real desire to play them these days, and consequently they are very difficult to come by, especially in B system. 

A Brazilian PA player, Daian Gobbi, also makes a passable job of CBA, although he prefers B system to C, which I'm told is unusual for a PA player. It would appear that CBA is becoming slightly more popular in South America, although I don't think the PA has much to fear in that respect.
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#13
A few comments to Stephen and Maugein96:
- My experience with the switch from PA to CBA as an amateur was that it took about 5 to 6 years to reach the same level as before, but probably because of age starting on new songs is still not as straightforward as it used to be on PA.
- My first public performance on CBA came 10 days after I borrowed a small CBA for a first try. The performance was the solo part in an accordion ensemble. (It was my own solo with virtuoso parts in Oblivion by Piazzolla.) It was exciting and fun to perform on stage after just 10 days, and it went well, but this one piece was the only thing I could play after 10 days.
- I started playing everything on CBA very soon after that, but being in ensembles and orchestras helped. I could play everything that was needed, but that didn't mean I felt as comfortable within a year or so. I did play PA in the dutch symphonic accordion orchestra for the first year because there the music was still too difficult.
- The brain does get confused if you play a piece on PA and then try it on CBA. I had to do this sometimes in the transition period. Not fun.
- As far as I know Renée made the switch for the most part during the summer between finishing her bachelor and the start of her master. Truly extraordinary!
- I do have a piano in my living room but I hardly ever play it and I don't believe I played it at all in the first years of switching from PA to CBA.
Strangely enough my brain now strugles when I pick up a PA yet I have no problems playing the piano.
- In Flanders I believe that it is exclusively C system and B system that are allowed for beginners. Do2 is not allowed. These accordions are regularly offered for sale but I imagine they are a hard sell.
- The "want to play CBA for whatever reason" includes the more compact keyboard layout and more notes (range) in a smaller box. It was our experience after buying and playing a Bugari 289/ARS/C5 that prompted us to look for a smaller box with just as many notes (if not more). CBA was the only option for that!
- I didn't know that the UK was so far behind Belgium, where the turning point came around 1977.
Paul De Bra (not Debra...)
http://www.de-bra.nl
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#14
(07-08-2019, 08:52 PM)debra Wrote: - In Flanders I believe that it is exclusively C system and B system that are allowed for beginners. Do2 is not allowed. These accordions are regularly offered for sale but I imagine they are a hard sell.
I think the Do2 tended to be mainly used by players who had no desire to perform classical music. Edouard Duleu, a well known French musette pro player from Wattrelos near Roubaix, played Do2 complete with Belgian basses. I believe the Belgian player, Adolphe Deprince, from Mechelen also used Do2 but I'm not absolutely sure. Was a time I could have named several other players of Do2 but my memory is not what it was. 

When it became known to accordion enthusiasts in the UK that Verchuren played B system, CBA players realised why they were having difficulty trying to play some of the musette tunes they heard on the radio.

You'll know Verchuren wasn't really rated as a technical player, but he was "the" player that most UK types associated with French musette, and many players attempted to play like him. Some of the techniques he used were very difficult on C system, but were natural for B. 

Scotland went through a relatively brief phase where CBA was more popular than it is now, but even so PA has always been king. 

The guy who eventually managed to have the accordion recognised in the UK as being suitable for classical study was Professor Owen Murray, who was obliged to go to Copenhagen University in Denmark, where he studied along with Mogens Ellegaard. He plays C system CBA.  

I've never really followed classical music, but I'm led to believe that Murray organised a single handed campaign to have the instrument accepted here, finally succeeding in 1986. Even so, I'm not entirely sure how popular the instrument is these days in the classical world in the UK, and would imagine most players would opt for PA.
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#15
Music 
(07-08-2019, 08:52 PM)debra Wrote: A few comments to Stephen and Maugein96:
- My experience with the switch from PA to CBA as an amateur was that it took about 5 to 6 years to reach the same level as before, but probably because of age starting on new songs is still not as straightforward as it used to be on PA.
- My first public performance on CBA came 10 days after I borrowed a small CBA for a first try. The performance was the solo part in an accordion ensemble. (It was my own solo with virtuoso parts in Oblivion by Piazzolla.) It was exciting and fun to perform on stage after just 10 days, and  it went well, but this one piece was the only thing I could play after 10 days.
- I started playing everything on CBA very soon after that, but being in ensembles and orchestras helped. I could play everything that was needed, but that didn't mean I felt as comfortable within a year or so. I did play PA in the dutch symphonic accordion orchestra for the first year because there the music was still too difficult.
- The brain does get confused if you play a piece on PA and then try it on CBA. I had to do this sometimes in the transition period. Not fun.
- As far as I know Renée made the switch for the most part during the summer between finishing her bachelor and the start of her master. Truly extraordinary!
- I do have a piano in my living room but I hardly ever play it and I don't believe I played it at all in the first years of switching from PA to CBA.
 Strangely enough my brain now strugles when I pick up a PA yet I have no problems playing the piano.
- In Flanders I believe that it is exclusively C system and B system that are allowed for beginners. Do2 is not allowed. These accordions are regularly offered for sale but I imagine they are a hard sell.
- The "want to play CBA for whatever reason" includes the more compact keyboard layout and more notes (range) in a smaller box. It was our experience after buying and playing a Bugari 289/ARS/C5 that prompted us to look for a smaller box with just as many notes (if not more). CBA was the only option for that!
- I didn't know that the UK was so far behind Belgium,  where the turning point came around 1977.

The accordion as an instrument seems over-burdened by the different variations in keyboard systems and tunings. Not quite as bad as those for stringed instruments https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stringed_i...nt_tunings. Like many people , I started out on PA - stradella, the result of marketing of the instrument by the Deffners in the U.S. during the 50's and 60's. My own naive approach to the instrument as an adult has been eventually to select C-System, 5-row bassetti, because of the logical organization of the keyboards, with their being the mirror-image of each other. Obviously, as in De Bra's experience, transitioning from one system to another took some time. My own objective has been to access multiple forms of music. The piano itself is a percussive instrument characterized in the tone initiated by a hammer striking a string, and its duration fading geometrically. The accordion is a wind instrument. Its natural breathing changes the interpretation and the character of the music being played - contrast the effect of the B-flat whole notes played in the bass for the first three measures in Duke Ellington's "Sophisticated Lady" (Soph' Ldy Sample) between the accordion vs. the piano. Additionally, the full implementation of complex chord structures in old jazz and modern music is not available on stradella systems. Different players have different objectives which lead to their choices of instruments. Cajun, Mex-Tex, Irish, Flemish, Bulgarian, Russian, usw.  require different instruments for the delivery of the "sound" of the genre.
I want to play the accordion badly – and I do.
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#16
Thanks to all correspondents. I’ve plugged away at this since my initial post, and have decided that the Anzaghi fingering suits me best. Also that there is no absolutely correct system.

I am a member of other free reed groups, and in one of those there is a member whose sig, translated into English is “Hell is other people’s fingering.”

Makes me laugh.
Elderly teenager still experimenting with music of all descriptions.  I may not please anyone else, but I’m long past caring about that.
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#17
The pianist Artur Schnabel's motto regarding piano fingering and technique was "safety last"...
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#18
(13-08-2019, 10:23 PM)Stephen Wrote: The pianist Artur Schnabel's motto regarding piano fingering and technique was "safety last"...

It is many years since I compared myself with any great musician.  Never mind ‘let not the excellent be the enemy of the good.’  I’m happy letting not the mediocre be the enemy of the piss-poor.
Elderly teenager still experimenting with music of all descriptions.  I may not please anyone else, but I’m long past caring about that.
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