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Greetings from Boston!

Muser

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Learning to play accordion after 60! I have studied and played jazz trumpet my whole life -- some professionally but mostly as an avocation. After leaving my day job and completing my EdD last year (2020) I started playing accordion. I'm practicing many hours a day and loving it - scales, voice leading/comping patterns, classical, jazz, traditional, and klezmer. My dream is to sit on a bench in Boston Common on the cooler summer days and entertain the passersby. I just upgraded to a new Beltuna Prestige IV - delighted with it. Any tips on accordion technique are welcome. Cheers!
 

Dingo40

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Welcome Muser!🙂
Beltuna Prestige iv: there are several variants (number of keys/bases, voices and tuning options). Which one is yours?
 

dunlustin

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A very worthwhile dream and you clearly have the plan to get you there.
60! - a mere stripling.
 

Scuromondo

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Learning to play accordion after 60! I have studied and played jazz trumpet my whole life -- some professionally but mostly as an avocation. After leaving my day job and completing my EdD last year (2020) I started playing accordion. I'm practicing many hours a day and loving it - scales, voice leading/comping patterns, classical, jazz, traditional, and klezmer. My dream is to sit on a bench in Boston Common on the cooler summer days and entertain the passersby. I just upgraded to a new Beltuna Prestige IV - delighted with it. Any tips on accordion technique are welcome. Cheers!
Welcome!

I am also 60, relatively new here, and sort-of “re-starting” on the accordion after (reluctantly!) taking lessons as a schoolboy decades ago. But you sound like a real musician who has direction and actually knows what he is doing, while I am more of a self-guided wanderer with a good deal of motivation but little direction and still working as a full time engineer. I must admit that I am a bit envious of your “starter” instrument. 😀. After a year of deliberation, I have just purchased a Paolo Soprani 37/96 w/cassotto—not in the same class as your Prestige, but a major step-up from what I have been using and much more closely aligned to both my budget and my skill level!

I have found this forum to be very helpful, and virtually all the folks here seem to be sincere, quite knowledgeable, and full of experience and encouragement. I hope you enjoy your time here!
 

Chrisrayner

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<LouisArmstrong>You have all.... the time.... in the world.</LouisArmstrong> I bought my first Chromatic Button Accordion after I was 70. No fool like an old fool.
 

Muser

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Thanks everyone for the encouraging replies!!! My new instrument is a Beltuna Prestige IV 41/120 LMMH. The instrument is way above my current skill level --- My thought was that as long as I'm practicing 4-5 hours most days, I might as well enjoy playing a truly enjoyable instrument that I can grow into. I sold two of my professional level trumpets to finance the upgrade from a Beltuna Studio IV 37/96 LMMH which I also loved playing. While I practice a lot, I generally don't feel like I'm improving a lot. Although I have a Masters degree in music composition, I was never a very good keyboard player. My playing is still quite stilted even on simple songs, and I have a hard time getting through tunes by memory without making mistakes. That said, the accordion has really been a passion for me over the last year; when I'm not playing I'm listening to recordings. I'm committed for the long haul. Thanks again for such a warm reception.
 

JeffJetton

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The instrument is way above my current skill level --- My thought was that as long as I'm practicing 4-5 hours most days, I might as well enjoy playing a truly enjoyable instrument that I can grow into.

I agree with that last statement 100%. The instrument a player "deserves" has less to do with their skill level and more to do with their commitment. (In fact I blogged about this sort of thing once.)

While I practice a lot, I generally don't feel like I'm improving a lot.

You probably aren't improving a lot, but trust me... that's normal. :) Progress can be slow, is seldom a straight line, and can happen so gradually that you might not even notice. Tugging on a plant won't make it grow any faster--some things take the time they're going to take. Recording yourself helps here, as does revisiting those old beginner tunes that you remember struggling with but can now probably play much better!

(Although it may be worth looking into how you're practicing, and seeing if there can be any improvements there. Thirty minutes of deliberate practice beats five hours of muckin' about.)

And as you probably know from your recent EdD (congrats!), it's always a challenge for an adult to get back into that beginner/learner mindset. We're so used to being good at nearly everything we do all day, and picking up "sorta new" things quickly, that it can be a rude awakening to be in the mode where new things are hard, and you're frequently lousy at something. It requires dusting off those old skills we had as a child: Amazement and appreciation of even the most mundane new ability, the willingness to bear (and even enjoy) being however good we are at the moment, and infinite patients with ourselves and our progress.

Anyway, congrats on picking up a wonderful instrument and welcome to the forum!

- Jeff (former Boston denizen myself!)
 

Muser

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I agree with that last statement 100%. The instrument a player "deserves" has less to do with their skill level and more to do with their commitment. (In fact I blogged about this sort of thing once.)



You probably aren't improving a lot, but trust me... that's normal. :) Progress can be slow, is seldom a straight line, and can happen so gradually that you might not even notice. Tugging on a plant won't make it grow any faster--some things take the time they're going to take. Recording yourself helps here, as does revisiting those old beginner tunes that you remember struggling with but can now probably play much better!

(Although it may be worth looking into how you're practicing, and seeing if there can be any improvements there. Thirty minutes of deliberate practice beats five hours of muckin' about.)

And as you probably know from your recent EdD (congrats!), it's always a challenge for an adult to get back into that beginner/learner mindset. We're so used to being good at nearly everything we do all day, and picking up "sorta new" things quickly, that it can be a rude awakening to be in the mode where new things are hard, and you're frequently lousy at something. It requires dusting off those old skills we had as a child: Amazement and appreciation of even the most mundane new ability, the willingness to bear (and even enjoy) being however good we are at the moment, and infinite patients with ourselves and our progress.

Anyway, congrats on picking up a wonderful instrument and welcome to the forum!

- Jeff (former Boston denizen myself!)
Jeff - I love your perspective on all this - thanks so much for sharing. I agree completely about the 30 minutes of focus beating hours of pounding my head against the proverbial wall. I have divided my practice routine into 30 min segments to try to keep that intensity. For me right now I think "fluency" is my core issue: (1) Just getting use to the physical presence of the instrument and its workings. (2) Developing trust that I will actually play what I hear. Being intimately familiar with the physical connection between the instrument and what is active in my "ear" (mind/body/soul). (3) Not fooling myself about whether I actually do "hear" the music musically. And (4) My own personal demons of feeling inadequate. The accordion is so unapologetic -- the opposite of my personality -- I love it. I'm looking forward to exploring the forum and coming across more of your helpful posts. Best...
 

Alans

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I agree,no learning is a straight line. Peaks and valleys. You do your bit every day feeling like you are in the desert and then one day you realize how far you go have gone.

if you are interested in busking check out the videos of Ronen Segall in B.C. He has busked for years and encourages people to play outside and to develop playing by ear. Personally I’m a sheet music person but playing by ear really appeals to many people.
Slow and consistent,you will progress very quickly in no time.
The accordion is the most beautiful of all instruments.
 

Tom

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Welcome Muser! I have no good advice for you except to make sure to give some time every day to just play what you love, completely for fun, and non judgementally. Sounds like you got it going on, goid luck!
 

daveburkevt

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Muser, I joined the forum only a few days before you, so greetings from a fellow newb! I am a fellow over-60s accordion player, but with a less awesome instrument than yours. That Beltuna is beautiful! I'm in Burlington, Vermont so I am happy to see another New Englander on the boards. There doesn't seem to be much accordion action here in Vermont, so if you hear of any New England happenings please give a shout out.
 

Tom

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Muser, I joined the forum only a few days before you, so greetings from a fellow newb! I am a fellow over-60s accordion player, but with a less awesome instrument than yours. That Beltuna is beautiful! I'm in Burlington, Vermont so I am happy to see another New Englander on the boards. There doesn't seem to be much accordion action here in Vermont, so if you hear of any New England happenings please give a shout out.
Welcome Dave!
 

Muser

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Muser, I joined the forum only a few days before you, so greetings from a fellow newb! I am a fellow over-60s accordion player, but with a less awesome instrument than yours. That Beltuna is beautiful! I'm in Burlington, Vermont so I am happy to see another New Englander on the boards. There doesn't seem to be much accordion action here in Vermont, so if you hear of any New England happenings please give a shout out.
Hi Dave, Thanks for the warm welcome! Glad to connect with another New Englander. I have been thinking about joining the Massachusetts Accordion Association after my COVID vaccine kicks in. They seem to meet monthly. The site, http://www.maaccordion.com, lists associations in New Hampshire and Central Massachusetts on the "Other Resources" page. These are still quite a hike from Burlington.

I think it is possible to make great music on any instrument. Although my main trumpet was a professional model horn, I also loved playing my vintage cornets, which would fetch less than shipping costs on eBay. I'm in the long process of learning to tune a neglected vintage Honer Verdi III piano accordion which has it's own charm. Looking forward to staying in touch as people start to gather again to play.
 

Muser

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I agree,no learning is a straight line. Peaks and valleys. You do your bit every day feeling like you are in the desert and then one day you realize how far you go have gone.

if you are interested in busking check out the videos of Ronen Segall in B.C. He has busked for years and encourages people to play outside and to develop playing by ear. Personally I’m a sheet music person but playing by ear really appeals to many people.
Slow and consistent,you will progress very quickly in no time.
The accordion is the most beautiful of all instruments
Hi Alans,
The peaks and valleys certainly make for a beautiful hike! I'll check out Ronen Segall in BC. I tend to be wed to the sheet music as well, but recently have started to work on everything by memory/ear. Rough going, but hopefully some day... Thanks for the kind wishes.
 

daveburkevt

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I have been thinking about joining the Massachusetts Accordion Association after my COVID vaccine kicks in. They seem to meet monthly. The site, http://www.maaccordion.com, lists associations in New Hampshire and Central Massachusetts on the "Other Resources" page. These are still quite a hike from Burlington.
Thanks for the info, Muser. (Good Forum handle, btw.) You're right, still a hike for me. I have a Craigslist alert for accordions < 150 miles (3 hrs) from Burlington and I'd say 75% of listings are southern NH and MA. I happened to pick up one of those accordions from a Music Store in Southern NH just last week, actually. A 10 yr old Titano Grand. My 2nd accordion. Not the accordion of my dreams but we're bonding nicely so far.
 
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