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Quitting Piano Accordion for CBA, or try to maintain both?

K

Ken

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Hello all,

It's me Ken. I'm currently in a Dilemma about whether to fully quit PA (Piano Accordion) and just focus on CBA (Chromatic Button Accordion), or try to maintain Skills in both?

Firstly I have no Piano Background, however I previously played the Flute for ~10 Years (which I've quit "cold Turkey").

I started learning PA (Piano Accordion) since early 2014 and have Access to a PA Teacher who coincidentally lives near me. Text-wise, I was using the Palmer Hughes Series (up to Book 4), and Luigi Anzaghi's "Complete Method for Accordion" (a red Book). The PA I have is a 72-Bass Paloma (made in China).

I LOVE listening to French Accordion Musettes and noticed that on the vast majority of Youtube Videos, these French People were using CBAs (System C), which piqued my Curiosity. According to Wikipedia and other Websites, it looked as if the 5 Row Button Layout on the CBA is far more "consistent" and "logical" than the PA, not to mention being able to access a greater Range of Notes, playing much larger Intervals with ease, and additional Fingering Options for the same Note too (as opposed to PA which only has one Key for each Note).

In early 2016 during my Annual Leave after Internship, I bought a second-Hand Paola Soprani CBA along with Manu Maugain's "Méthode d'accordéon Volume 1" Book.

I feel like my Progress in the CBA is going much faster than PA, although I understand that this is with knowledge of previous Bass Buttons etc.

I find the CBA very attractive, but the major Problem is that there's no CBA Teachers near where I live to correct my CBA Fingerings, so I have to rely on Books and possibly Youtube Videos for now.

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I'm considering fully quitting PA and just focusing on CBA, but then I may feel Guilty for the 2.5 Years I've already invested into the PA, and I wouldn't be able to get Lessons from my PA Teacher anymore.

On the other Hand, I could continue learning both PA and CBA, but that effectively doubles up my "Fingering Load".

Also, I (so far) haven't met any expect Accordion Players who were highly proficient in both PA and CBA, so I suspect there's a Reason why it doesn't exist or is uncommon.

What do you Guys recommend?

Thank you in Advance.
 

debra

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This question comes up regularly. There are more people considering moving from PA to CBA, and giving it a go. I know several of them personally and all but one eventually gave up, not counting my wife and myself. My wife and I started to learn the CBA (C system) after about 40 years on the PA. Initially we could not play anything but now, after 9 years of practice, we can play everything again and even "prima vista" is beginning to work better and better.
For french musette the PA versus CBA difference is not that great. For the most part it does not require huge hands on PA. The CBA is a must when going to music composed or arranged for it, making use of large distances (like playing notes together that are 2 octaves apart).
When we were in the transition period we had the most difficulty trying to learn something on CBA that we previously learned on PA. But that too disappears and in fact I'm finding that already knowing how a song goes greatly helps with finding the notes quickly enough on the CBA.
I would suggest concentrating on just one system. We stopped playing PA altogether (with a small exception and also still playing the piano). Once you become good enough on CBA there simply is no turning back. But it takes time and perseverance to get there.
 

dan

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Feeling guilty about the time invested on PA is a sunk costs fallacy. Now, I wouldn't recommend you consult actuarial tables to arrive at a discounted ROI over your expected remaining accordion playing years ;) , but do think of it looking forward. A few years out, which choice will give you more satisfaction for your efforts?

I'm three months into the switch, am making fast progress, and am already noticeably better in some respects (fast runs, interval recognition). I had a limited PA repertoire so expect to catch up within a year. I suspect we're in the same boat: 10 years oboe, no piano, 4 years PA.

Have you thought about asking your teacher to change the focus of your lessons? Even if you continue bringing a PA to lessons, your CBA playing would benefit from attention to bellows changes, bass scales and patterns, and RH/LH coordination, among other things.

-edited to avoid generalizing about other people's experience
 
A

acordiansam

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Follow you're heart. Play what you like. No wasted time! Most of the skills of the keyboard box will cross over to the CBA. For me the CBA is a box I play with from time to time for the last 15 years. After 45+ years on a keyboard box. My prob is the larg gap, so push comes to shove I default to the keyboard box when I play out.

Go for it! Sum could learn both, sum not. It don't matter as long as you enjoy it.
 

JerryPH

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Nooooooooooo! Don't switch!!! Just kidding. :D :D

Some people switch, some don't. I am in the "did not ever want to switch" camp. I don't have a desire to put in the effort at my age and the years I put in, to move from PA to CBA and honestly, even if I was 4 years old again and started over, I wouldn't want to change a thing.

In all actuality, unless you plan on playing advanced music specifically made for the CBA, there really is no reason to switch, other than following your heart, which is the biggest reason to make the decision over anything else.

2.5 years in to the accordion is really not a lot of time. IMHO, you are still well before the point of no return, and there is absolutely ZERO reason for guilt one way or another.

Make a decision, and stick to it with conviction and determination... and enjoy yourself!
 
M

maugein96

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Hi Ken,

In my particular case I wanted to play French musette, and all the old K7 cassette covers showed CBA accordions, mostly 4 row. Like yourself I had no previous piano experience so the choice was simple, or so I thought.

I live in Scotland, where CBA teachers are scarcer than Eskimos in the Sahara, and the vast majority of accordions are PA. After a lot of soul searching and no French instruments being available here I opted for a Guerrini CBA, which was fine for Scottish music, but didn't have the right sound for me. When I bought it the shop staff told me I would be better with a PA, as it would have been easier to find a teacher. I was also asked why I wanted to limit myself to playing French musette, when I should be concentrating on Scottish music, which genre also features "Continental" melodies. The shop staff just never saw where I was coming from at all, so I decided to go it alone.

I have never owned or played a PA in my life, but like all other self taught amateurs I reached a point where my playing had become stale. The end result was I became disenchanted with the accordion and stopped playing for a few years. Professional grade French spec accordions aren't cheap, and I had three of them at that time, which had set me back a small fortune.

Believe it or not I actually considered switching to PA so that I could try Italian musette, as PA instruments are very much cheaper in the UK than CBAs. Several forum members persuaded me to abandon the idea, as I would have been setting myself back considerably.

As you have already acquired a well respected make of CBA, it stands to reason that you should learn to play it, assuming it is a better instrument than your PA.

I cannot answer technical questions about your intended switch, but would offer the following points to consider:-

Don't worry too much about the actual make and model of accordion you are learning on until your playing all falls into place. If you're into French musette you'll see loads of fancy accordions on You Tube, played by professionals who can afford them. A lot of the instruments you'll see are customised to the requirements of the player, and the chances are, even if you had an identical model made, you wouldn't sound the same as the player you are trying to emulate. The "Big Make" French accordions have prices to match, with even student models commanding prices approaching 2000 Euro. The only popular "French" accordion makes are Cavagnolo, Maugein, and Carpentier, with all of the other makes usually being made in Italy, like your Paolo Soprani. It is important to realise that quite a few professional musette players play these Italian makes in preference over the local fare.

With regard to method books and fingering, the Manu Maugain method you have is a good bet for learning CBA in the more modern style. I haven't studied it to any great degree, but it is one of the most popular French method books available today. The included CDs are invaluable. An old professional CBA player told me to select a method you think will work for you, stick to it, and never even consider trying another method. His reasoning was that as your playing develops you'll eventually devise various ways to use different fingerings on the CBA, by which time you'll not need to rigidly adhere to any particular method. Unfortunately I never followed his advice, and consequently my fingers end up all over the place.

Good luck with your venture!
 
D

Deleted member 48

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No man can serve two masters.

Choose one system. A teacher is the best guide. I was lucky to have a CBA teacher.
 

bocsa

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I enjoy playing both just for my own amusement ...keep the two going as and when it suits... just enjoy them, you never know, a natural preference may emerge ;)

If you're looking to hone your skills to performance level choose just one.
 

debra

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Stephen said:
No man can serve two masters.

Choose one system. A teacher is the best guide. I was lucky to have a CBA teacher.
Sure you can serve two masters. Just dont try to do the same for both. This means: do not learn the same song on both PA and CBA as your brain will gets confused. As long as you keep the repertoire separate you can learn both systems just fine.
 

george garside

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lots of good advice to which I would simply suggest that if you are going to change to a cba now is the time to do it as you are a relative beginner on the piano box and as you say with no previous piano (keyboard) experience.

for what its worth I also think the CBA layout is superior to the piano keyboard and if a non accordionist approaches me for lessons I always advise buying a CBA unless the person has very substantial piano experience in which case I suggest the CBA is well worth considering.

There is also my personal favourite system the British Chromatic to consider but I won't muddy the waters by going there!

george ;)
 

bocsa

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debra said:
(...)This means: do not learn the same song on both PA and CBA as your brain will gets confused.

It aint necessarily so ... I find it helps to use the same tune across instruments...it seems the brain is aware of which box has been picked up ...and it can tell the difference between keys and buttons too ..... ;)

I used to keep certain tunes just for the BCA (BCC#) and the rest for DG Melodeon, nowadays I dont seem to need to ... as a septuagenarian, I find that strangely comforting :D
(yes, I play CBA/PA too :cool: )

Strange to relate, I have problems on the DG melodeon when reading from the dots ...if its in G, no problem, if its in D the problem arises:
I see a B on the staff, me fingers are on the D row ...and the brain goes on autopilot and says middle finger push when it should be fourth finger pull (!)
(solution: more practise !)

All good fun innit
 

Anyanka

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When I started the PA to CBA journey, I had two boxes - a small Hohner for Morris, and a nice Italian one for my accordion orchestra etc. I switched the big box first and completely, transferring all the repertoire (hard work), and carried on playing the PA for Morris only. A year later, I was so certain that CBA is better for me, that I found a 48-bass Hohner Amati CBA and moved the Morris repertoire across too (even harder work, because I'd played it so much). It might have been more sensible to keep the PA for Morris, to maintain both systems, but on the other hand I quite like playing a total rarity among Morris musicians...

Basically, my advice is: switch completely at least for a few months, just concentrate on CBA, and then re-evaluate.
 

george garside

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provided you can ,properly play your instrument (s)you should be able to play any tune you can play by ear or from the dots on all your instruments as its really just a question of knowing how to play notes higher or lower than the preceeding one! Music , written or remembered can only go higher or lower , never sideways!

george
 
J

JackieC

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I took up the CBA seven months ago, but am not going to give up PA, as I have too much material for performance situations. My little four row CBA has such a wonderful musette on it and goes well with my music partner's tenor banjo and mandola. One of the things I do is to sight read new music on the CBA and find that it is coming quite easy now. I think that it is okay to be able to play both PA and CBA, as I know some excellent accordionists who play both formats very well. Learning to make two and three note chords is what I find myself doing more and more now on CBA. It comes naturally on PA because I've done it for ages, but that's my newest challenge on CBA. Also, the closer proximity between notes on the CBA makes it easy to form some awesome four and five fingered chords. Something I would never be able to do on PA.
 

TomBR

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george garside said:
Music , written or remembered can only go higher or lower , never sideways!
george

Wouldn't be a problem for CBA players, they're used to going in all directions! :D
 

george garside

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and BCA do that but throw in strange bellows reversals to add to the fun
george :p
 
K

Ken

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Hello all,

thank you so much for your Responses.

After reading all your Posts, I've decided to focus on CBA for now and re-evaluate in mid-January 2017 (~3 Months from now) about whether to fully quit PA or not.

I no longer feel ashamed or guilty about potentially quitting PA, however I won't sell my 72-Bass Paloma unless quitting is fully confirmed.

In the Mean-Time, I'll continue with Manu Maugain's "Méthode D'Accordéon" Books and slowly re-write my perceived CBA Fingerings for Sheet Music that I initially learnt on PA.

There'll be Pain for now, but hopefully I'll have a Lot to gain after this 3 Month Period, will let you Guys know how I go/feel!!!
 

JerryPH

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Not a bad idea. Also remember to not have expectations of being able to play at the same level after 3 months compared to 2.5 years of PA, this is just to help you make a decision whether you want to drop PA and go all CBA, keep both, or you might even feel frustrated to the point of wanting to return to PA and drop CBA.

No guilt, just some experimentation to find YOUR path. :)
 

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