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Learning resource help

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Hi,
I am new on here, looking for help, hope that’s ok. I am a music therapist, working with people facing all sorts of life challenges, such as dementia, autism, mental health problems or learning disabilities. I have a range of instruments that my clients and I can play, including an accordion, which I acquired a year or two ago - that’s another story!
I discovered that one particular client really loved the sound of the accordion - she is non-verbal but reacted to it in a way that we haven’t seen before, so I really need to get a bit better at it! I am a pianist so I know the theory of music, notation, playing by ear and my way around a keyboard, so I don’t need that side of things, but I could do with some techique guidance on all the rest as I am basically making it up as I go along….
Would anyone be able to recommend a resource to help me?
Many thanks!
 

Dingo40

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Blue Spinnaker,
Welcome!🙂👍
Interesting occupation 🙂
Are you asking for suggestions regarding teaching materials?
If so, the Palmer Hughes Accordion Course series is probably as good as is available, but others here may make better suggestions ?🤫
There seems to be plenty of it (including videos) on the internet.
See here:
 
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Tom

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Hi Blue! Another resource is the Liberty Bellows youtube tutorial site if you like video learning. Good luck!
 

John M

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Welcome Blue. I am not any type of therapist, but I can certainly identify with the description your "particular client". I play my accordion at the county home and nursing homes. While I play my wife takes our therapy dog to visit people in the different rooms. There was a woman with dementia that was slumped in her chair looking very bored. I played some older standard tunes and she began to perk up and sing with a very beautiful voice. Amazing how she knew all the words in most of the songs I played. When I played a polka, she even got out of her chair to dance in place to the beat. After I was done, the activities director spoke to me saying what good therapy music is for dementia patients. I guess it connects some memory pathways in the brain that haven't been used and it is good "exercise" for the brain. I certainly was amazed at how this women "came to life" after I started playing my accordion.

John M.
 

Alan Sharkis

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Hello Blue,

The Palmer-Hughes course and the Liberty Bellows videos are a good help. Even better, would be somebody who gives lessons via Zoom, Skype, etc. There are many, but let them know about your background because some will only work with advanced students or one particular genre of music.

Depending on your location, you might actually find an accordion teacher in easy travel.

I assume from what you’ve already told us that your instrument is a piano-accordion. If that’s the case, your right hand should feel at home, except that it won’t give you the dynamics you want. The bellows will. Push or pull them harder for more volume.
That’s a task for your left hand.

Your left hand will also handle the bass and chord patterns, and that may be the most difficult part of your learning the accordion. On a piano, you have one keyboard to learn, even if your left and right hands are doing different things. On an accordion, your left and right hands are still assigned to accompaniment and melody respectively, but your left hand has to learn a different keyboard and simultaneously work the bellows. Fear not! That left-hand keyboard (button-board) has a very logical circle-of-fifths layout. That’s why you might benefit most from a diagram of that layout and also why you will bnefit from starting simply, as a young child might do.

I have seen the work that music therapists do, and I respect all of them. Welcome to a new and ultimately powerful instrument in your arsenal!
 

Tom

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Good work John and Blue. I also played the elder, Alzheimer's and community sites before covid and have recently started again. Hopefully I can continue. I actually started a band at one Alzheimer's group with 2 lifelong musicians who found the joy even though they were now stricken with the dreaded dementia. It's a good venue for me that started late and am not good enough for the upscale gigs. Good luck with your learning, the resources are there, thankfully.
 
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Thank you very much for your help - yes it's the left hand and all those buttons!! I have bought the Palmer Hughes book - I also spotted one designed for the left hand which might be a good idea. To be fair I think my client liked the blue shininess, the contrast of the black and white keyboard and the movement of the bellows as much as anything (and probably my facial expressions as I tried to improvise). I have also got to figure out the best way of playing it sat on the floor 😆
 

cat

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I'm not a music therapist myself, but have done a lot of therapeutic work with music with diverse populations - seniors, adolescents, those with special needs, homeless persons, hospice, etc. I also have two children with ASD at home. Accordions are a terrific instrument for this work for many reasons (birds also like accordions 😀 ).

A wonderful documentary which I've watched many times is "In The Garden of Sounds" following the work of Wolfgang Fasser, a blind physical therapist who uses music and sound working with children with severe disabilities (Fasser himself uses a diatonic button accrdn). Check it out if you can -



A colleague of ours recently wrote a book on the subject - though I haven't read it yet. Her particular area of expertise involves piano pedagogy and autism. https://www.amazon.com/Henny-Kupferstein/e/B01AVA9OPU?ref=dbs_a_mng_rwt_scns_share
 
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Dingo40

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Cat and Blue Spinnaker,
Thank you both for sharing the clip and other information .👍
The more there is in the public eye, the lesser the perceived "differences", the greater the similarities, the greater the unity, the bigger the envelope!🙂
There's always more to learn and share!👍
 

Jim2010

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Andrew Shulman, a classmate of mine from music school, wrote a book about his hospital music experiences, which began when he was a critically ill patient. He nearly died and he lost his ability to perform as a classical guitarist. Music helped as part of his recovery. After he left the hospital, he began the process of reteaching himself to perform again. Once he had the capacity, he went back to the hospital as a performer, eventually developing the Medical Musician specialty.
 
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cat

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As a harper, I'm exposed to a lot of the "therapeutic musician" literature - in the harp world there's actually a certification and methodology offered by several people/organizations - not to be confused with Music Therapy, a recognized medical professional practice.

There's a good anthology of writings entitled Music: Physician for TImes to Come - an older work, but contains contributions from practitioners, theoreticians and researchers from various field. IIRC there's a section on Helen Bonny as well - a very good resource and introduction to the material.

*Blue Spinnaker - also wanted to suggest a diatonic button accrdn - they work well in settings such as yours.
 
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