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Tips on transfer from PA to 5 row C Griff

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DaveGD

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Has anyone any useful tips when trying to make the change from a PA to a 5 row C Griff. Does anyone "mark" the buttons on the treble side to assist with location ?

Cheers
DaveGD
 

debra

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As someone having made this transition here is some advice:
- Start with an accordion that has notes marked. The most common marking is C and F. Hohner has also made accordions that have A, Cis and Gis marked. Either will do. I have one accordion of each type and that can get confusing.
- Never ever look at the keyboard. In the beginning it would just shock you to look as you don't recognize the keys anyway. After a while you get used to never looking at the keyboard. It helps if you can keep your eyes on the sheet music.
- Learn the basics on the first three rows and then start using all 5 rows when it is more convenient. There are many more possibilities for fingering than on a PA, so make use of it.
- Most importantly: don't give up. In the beginning you may be very good on PA and rubbish on the CBA but practice makes perfect. My wife and I both made the transition and are definitely not going back. We have made the switch 8 years ago and we are back at the same level although we are still rubbish at spontaneous playing (a new piece, without any study) and I'm pretty sure we will never reach the same level in improvisation because we are too old for that. We should have made the switch 30 years earlier, or at least 10 years earlier.
- It's encouraging to have your first performances be of pieces that have a more complex lefthand part (that has not changed) and a simpler melody part, or to play in an ensemble where you only need the righthand side.
 

george garside

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I would differ on the matter of marking the buttons because so doing provides obvious encouragement to have a gander down at the keyboard!. learn the 3 scales that are needed to play 12 keys using only the 3 outside rows until you can pick up the box and play them in the dark.

Next take a simple tune or two and play it/them in all 3 scales again in the dark ( which might mean playing by ear as you wouldn't be able to see the dots!

After that its a matter of consolidating and expanding into things like right hand chords - experiment by trying adjacent buttons to get the hang of harmonising combinations of notes etc etc.


The real aim of this way of learning is to get far away from thinking of buttons as playing particular notes ? even by name! and eithr ''thinking'' the required sound and playing it or ''reading'' then ''thinking'' the required sound so that either way the message goes down the arm and fingers to produce the sound in much the same way as the operation of the gob requires no conscious thought /open wider/ purse lips, waggle tongue /blow harder or whatever!

Playing a continental requires less learning than a British Chromatic as it is not of great importance which way the bellwos are going - but on either it is absolutely futile to have a gander at a mass of buttons. Do we - can we have a gander at the bass?

george ;)
 

dunlustin

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To mark keys, I've used scraps of Elastoplast (Bandaid elsewhere?) on C and F.
The original fabric type gives a rough enough surface to feel and it's designed to peel off.
I found having the marks discouraged me from having a peek at the keys.
Also having the layout chart visible at the beginning should give you a mental picture of the layout - both scales and chords.
Oh, and believing it really is worth the effort, because it is.
If you have played push/pull boxes you may want to try out alternative fingerings quite quickly - I generally found it easier if I used the same fingering for chords/arpeggios rather than keeping to the 3 rows tho' some say this is confusing.
 

donn

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I learned to use all four rows from the beginning, and I think I would agree with those who prefer to learn on 3. The extra row or two can make many passages easier, but not all, and at the expense of added complexity. Working with only three, I suppose one gets used to the awkward bits more quickly, and avoids the choices that draw in the wrong kind of problem solving cerebration.

I marked some buttons rather late in the game, when I was trying to play from a written piece. I normally play by ear, and the marked keys are of no use to me in that mode. I couldn't really see the keyboard if I wanted to, the design of my accordion puts it too far forward to get more than at most a very oblique view of it.
 

debra

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All manufacturers I know often mark keys to help you find your way on the keyboard, in the right key, without looking or using trial and error. Sure you can play everything using 3 rows in any key using the same fingering (but either using rows 1-3, 2-4 or 3-5) but often you want to play something in a prescribed key and then you need to be in the right position on the keyboard. I can often find the right spot without the markings but when you are performing "often" isn't good enough. You need to hit it every time and the markings really help.
 

losthobos

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the transition is worth the effort though not as simple as it may first appeaar.... get a good book (the medard feddaro one is great) just to cover chord blocks rather than thinking in scales....it'll become clearer later if this approach is taken.
Also decide wether you're going to use the thumb or not.... i spent first couple of years playing french style (thumb on keyboard edge) before Harry Hussey pulled me up and insisted i was wasting potentially sweet harmonies....
also i now play a larger italian buttoned box as the buttons are larger to accomodate the thumb
same rule to the rules as the fingers... if you've 5 rows then foolish not to use them.... better fingerings can be found for different runs/melodies/chord voicings
 

george garside

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I think it is daft to ignore the thumb but to be flexible about when and where it is used. i.e experiment when learning 'new' tunes as to where the thumb may or may not be helpful.

learning using only the 3 outer rows does not mean that one sticks to 3 rows for ever! However having the ability to change key on the 3 rows can lead to easier fast playing and aactualy make playing some tunes easier.

once the 3 row technique is mastered the 4th and/or 5 rows can be used freely to facilitate fingering and chords

george
 

donn

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Indeed, don't ignore the thumb - make sure you use it to locate the edge of the keyboard. Not glued or anchored to it exactly, I guess, but enough to give the hand a feeling for where it is.
 

debra

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I agree with everyone else here: don't ignore the thumb. I use the thumb a lot, and not just on the first row. I use it whenever convenient. People transitioning from PA to CBA are probably likely to start using the thumb right away.
I also agree with the others who say it's worth the transition but not easy. Especially the "not easy" part is really worth it. When you are an experienced player and over 60 it may not be worth the transition as you are not likely to every become as good on the CBA as you were on the PA. I started the transition when I was just under 50 and wish I made the switch at least 10 years earlier.
 

bocsa

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DaveGD said:
Has anyone any useful tips when trying to make the change from a PA to a 5 row C Griff. Does anyone mark the buttons on the treble side to assist with location ?

Hi Dave, remember when starting out with PA? You probably had to keep checking the location of your fingers and notes on the key board however it likely became progressively less necessary, same will happen with the CBA.

If the usual buttons arent marked then use the sticking plaster as recommended but only mark the standard marked buttons cos you may upgrade at some point to one with them so marked.

Using the keyboard button charts and playing simple known tunes helped me transition ...can even play familiar (well practised) tunes in different keys now ... the light in the tunnel gets nearer each time you pick it up :D

Enjoy the journey :b
 
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DaveGD

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Thanks to all for the useful replies. I too wish I had started earlier on the CBA. I am now on the wrong side of 60 but am determined to succeed. On the forum's suggestion I have ordered "Methode Complete d'Accordeon" which will hopefully help with fingering.

A happy new year to all.

DaveGD
 

donn

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debra said:
I agree with everyone else here: dont ignore the thumb.

The notion that everyones in agreement on this, suggests to me that I wasnt very clear. My impression is that very good players I see in videos, play notes with their thumbs very infrequently at most. The rest of the time, i.e. always or nearly always, the thumb maintains a casual contact with the edge of the keyboard.

I know many players manage without this orienting function of the thumb, and many players use their thumb to play notes, so ... there are many ways to do it. As someone who would be happy to have a marginal facility with the C system accordion, and who enjoys the ability to move around while playing, I think my thumb will serve me better as an location reference, than trying to play notes with it. I have enough trouble just trying to coordinate all four fingers.
 
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In music schools accordion teachers often make distinction between age categories.
Young kids and young students are more flexible in learning, and when the transfer still is in an early phase of the accordion study, a lot is possible.

My tip is to do the transfer from PA to 5 row C Griff under supervision of a C Griff accordion teacher, in a music school or via private tuition with a teacher.

Accordion teachers put the tumb on the buttonboard or keyboard right from the start.
If you keep resting the thumb on the side, youll never get used to it.

CBA players used to early thumb training have no problem using the thumb on all rows of the chromatic button accordion. In these videos the thumb is very active:
Р Бажилин Вальсирующий аккордеон Исп Трофим Антипов

F. Mendellssohn - Spinnerlied Spinning Song - bayan/accordion

аккордеонист Андрей Ковалев Вальсирующий аккордеон

Карусель. Carousel.


A transfer after 50 or 60 years, after many years of PA playing, will take some time.
Learning to play a music instrument takes time.
 

donn

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Stephen said:
CBA players used to early thumb training have no problem using the thumb on all rows of the chromatic button accordion. In these videos the thumb is very active:

Sure, theres no question that many players use their thumbs to play notes. Even sometimes among French or Portuguese players with C system CBAs, though your examples are all B system.

But again, other fine players leave their thumb on the edge of the keyboard and appear to manage fine this way, and my point is that it does serve a purpose there, maybe does more good there than if it were forced to join the 4 more nimble fingers to play notes.
 

george garside

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Whilst I would not dispute Donns opinion re using thumb on edge of keyboard to sort of locate or provide an anchor point for the hand I think it is more appropriate to the British Chromatic on which very very few players ever use the thumb to play the tune, most keeping it gently on the edge of the keyboard in the groove often provided for that purpose.

I aagree that using the thumb on a CBA should be taught from the start on the basis that the student then has both the ability to use it where it helps and the choice of not using it where a passage can better be fingered using only 4 digits!

george

george.
 

barkis

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debra said:
Never ever look at the keyboard
Im no expert but I dont think it would be wrong to look at the buttons while playing. At least from time to time.
I have never done it myself but looking would probably imprint a visual image of what the keyboard looks like and that image could help one to better feel where the fingers should go when one plays without looking.

Of course it is akward for the neck to look down much and one wants to be able to look up to see whats is around oneself. But looking down a little bit could maybe be good. We have eyes for a reason. Why not use them?

Again, Im no accordion-pedagogic-expert. This is just my ideas.
 

george garside

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? if we can manage up to 120 bass buttons without looking why not the treble buttons?? The problem is that once one starts leaning over to have a look you can become dependant on so doing. Playing in front of a mirror in the early stages can help and does not lead to dependence as one won't normally have a mirror to look in! As to the argument that you then have an arse uppards image of the keyboard in your head it really doesnt matter as you will play to that image as you won't be looking at the keyboard

I often use the mirror method when teaching the bass ( in the initial stages) and it definitely does not result in any baad habits

george
 

donn

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Lots of things can result in bad habits. Alcoholic beverages, for example - it's no joking matter. It sounds like the point is, at some point we should become accustomed to playing without looking. I'm confident that most of us have the wherewithal to make that happen, even if we've previously allowed themselves a glimpse of this forbidden view.
 

george garside

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not sure if its relevant but at one time touch typing was taught with blank caps on the keys so that the student became totally familier with the keyboard without any inclination to have a gander

george
 

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