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What were/are problems you have with learning accordion? Were they addressed by method books and teachers or are you still searching for solutions?

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Hi Everyone,

I'm currently making an analysis of method books for accordion and would like a bit of help to see what experience accordionists here have had.

What method book(s) did you use?

Did you also take lesson whilst using them?

Were the books suggested by a teacher?

Did you find the progression engaging (was it advancing enough to keep interest but within your learning curve)?

Were topics did you feel weren't addressed that should have been?

What things did you have to figure out yourself?

Any help would be greatly appreciated!

Grayson
 

Tom

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Hi Grayson! Hope I can help....


What method book(s) did you use?

Mel Bay Easiest Accordion Book
Palmer Hughes Books 1 and 2
Anzaghi Method Book

Did you also take lesson whilst using them?

Yes, the Palmer Hughes

Were the books suggested by a teacher?

Yes

Did you find the progression engaging (was it advancing enough to keep interest but within your learning curve)?

I did not find the books very engaging, but kept interested because I felt they would help me learn. The Mel Bay book really didn't have a progression. I think the progression in the Palmer Hughes and Anzaghi were pretty good but the tunes included were not anything I cared about playing.

Were topics did you feel weren't addressed that should have been?

These were all beginner books, so were limited to techniques aimed at getting you going. That said, it would have been good to include some tips on playing musically, such as bass phrasing, dynamics, etc. Also how to position your hand when sight reading new music, how to perform large bass jumps, how to memorize, and really, how to practice using the material presented.

Perhaps I was too stubborn or dumb to be a good student, but following a book, or series of books under the direction of an expensive teacher did not appeal to me, I was happier just learning tunes in my own once I had the basics. Maybe a more appealing series of books would have brought me to a better place and I would be a more accomplished player, who knows?

Hope this helps!
 

Alans

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Hi Grayson,always great to see you here as I’m reminded to look up your videos again.

I started out with Palmer Hughes. I know some people don’t like their method and not being an American there is a great deal of patriotic stuff that bugged me. I’ve also heard that adults often don’t care for the drawings but I think they’re fun. I got as far as Palmer Hughes four-end of four because there were gaps in my studying. All of my teachers,until now,were Canadians and they believed in Palmer Hughes. The thing I like about their method is that it is progressive. Mel Bay and the others sssume you want to play great tunes early and there is no logic to their development.
I’m currently studying with a teacher in Greece and she has me working on Anzhagi. It’s an excellent method because as you probably know, it takes you from the beginning to more advanced pieces all in one book. Problem is it’s very expensive.
I don’t know if you’re familiar with the levels used by the Royal Conservatory of Music.Unfortunately their exam syllabus is at least fifteen years old and many of the pieces for the early grades are not available. Also after grade six you’re only allowed to use a free bass instrument-as they use piano scores that makes the pieces more available. The syllabus is available for free online. Just look uo rcm accordion syllabus. Their technical requirements are progressive.
Hope this helps.
 

debra

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My main problem when learning the accordion was to stop associating dynamics with finger/key pressure. I started after I had been playing the piano for 5 years, and 50 years on too much attack is still a problem. Sadly there is no accordion method designed to work on key attack.
 
D

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Hello Grayson,
I hope to answer some questions here (using my phone).

First, I'd like to say that following the 10 years public music school lessons for accordion, was one of the best decisions in my life. I have no complaints about music school education in Belgium.

The teachers used a mix of tutor books :
Curt Mahr's arrangement of Czerny etudes (3 volumes), both PA and CBA C-system fingering indications. Excellent for learning technique.
Free bass technique: Mogens Ellegaard's Comprehensive method + Italian FB method from Berben Editions + baroque beginner pieces.

Every week we had 3 pieces to study: one Czerny study, one Stradella bass piece and one page from a Stradella bass method book. Those who also did free bass worked on a FB piece.

Accordion SB methods used :
Joerg Draeger's Accordeon progression 6 volumes
Rudolf Wuerthner
Joerg Draeger method 2 volumes
Cambieri Melocchi Fugazza 2 volumes
Fragments from Russian method books
Fragments from Dutch method books
Fragments from French books
Some pieces from Palmer-Hughes books

They tried to pick the best from different countries and tutors.

Most used were the German tutor books.

The teachers gave us more freedom after 3 years study: we could also bring some pieces we would like to learn. They made us work out fingering indications if needed.

Every teacher had a degree from a higher music conservatory. 5 years study, master level.

We also had accordion ensemble with 3.4 or 5 accordion students in the classroom.

Something I missed in the Belgian music education system: the use of numbered music notation in addition to staff music education.

The Souhaitty, Rousseau, Galin, Paris, Emile Cheve numbered music notation is a transparant music analysis method.
I learned this on my own.

If I were to be responsible for music education in Belgium, the first thing I would do, is to put this numbered notation in the curriculum at music schools.

It's a very simple way of analysing structures in music, songs, phrases,....

And it's good for ear training and singing "in tune".
 

knobby

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What method book(s) did you use? Sedlon Book 1

Did you also take lesson whilst using them? Yes

Were the books suggested by a teacher? Yes, this was the book my tutor used for all her students. she had been using it for many years and said she found that it worked.

Did you find the progression engaging (was it advancing enough to keep interest but within your learning curve)? No, I hated it! It's very old-fashioned and full of childish tunes which I had no interest in learning. These horrid tunes turned practising into a real chore and put me off. Once I moved to Spain I couldn't motivate myself to use this book so my learning stopped, until recently...
 

knobby

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...I've just started to try and learn again.

What method book(s) did you use? Play Accordion Volume 1 by Peter M. Haas & Accordion for Beginners by Basil Bunelik

Did you also take lesson whilst using them? No

Were the books suggested by a teacher? No

Did you find the progression engaging (was it advancing enough to keep interest but within your learning curve)? Play Acordion - So far, yes but I am on page 50 of 176. The tunes are different and while simple they are nothing like "Twinkle, twinkle little star", etc. The same tunes have been used a number of times; initially right hand only then right hand with a simple bass accompaniment then with a more complex bass accompaniment and in different keys.
Accordion for Beginners - Not so much. To be fair, this book does state that it would be best used with a tutor. It has a simple progression with the left hand, but the right hand jumps around all over the place. It's as if you are already expected to have some experience with the right hand. It introduces different keys without any kind of explanation of what they are. I think this is best seen (for me anyway) as a collection of songs that I will pick from once I get to various stages in "Play Accordion".


Were topics did you feel weren't addressed that should have been? I haven't come across anything yet.

What things did you have to figure out yourself? I ignored the starnge bass method at the beginning - see here: https://www.accordionists.info/threads/strange-to-me-anyway-bass-method.6700/
 

Paul vdV

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I have been a (part-time) gigging guitarist since my teens. I like to analyse what I am doing and have worked my way into fingerpicking, bluegrass, swing, gypsy and bebop-styles. Purely selftaught and enjoying it. Now I am 64 years and for the last 2 years have been learning the piano accordion.
I realised fairly quickly that mastering the left hand is essential to be able to play well. I try to collect vital information to the task of playing well. It proves to be a steep, but enjoyable learning curve. The vital information is:
- Correct technique
- Pacing, the correct placing of tunes and technical excercises along the learning curve
- Tunes I want to learn

The internet is my friend in this quest. I can find almost any tune or method, what a joy.

The difficult part for me is the pacing. The music I want to play is for now not in line with my technical abilities.

Another baken are accordion playing friends. I watch them, I am alert to their suggestions and tips.

I have assembled a lot of tunes I want to play. I also have a lot of easy tunes, there are many second hand books with easy repertoire which I can get quite cheap and I got a lot for free. I have quite a few books, in fact.

A book which I bought new and like a lot is "World Music For Accordion Made Easy" by Basil Bunelik". He has a YouTube channel. He inspires me because of the tunes he chooses and his very rhythmic, folk-informed playing. So that is my guidance for now, and putting this information to use to other tunes. Another book I use is Curt Mayers book with all the scales and such.
I enjoy playing everyday, while still keeping the chops up on guitar.

I have about 40 tunes memorised, but can only play a few without mistakes. So working on that now, and Curt Mayer of course.

So, no teacher ...
 
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lunarluxau

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Hi Grayson, here's my input

What method book(s) did you use?
  • Palmer Hughes (currently working on book 4, with 5 and 6 waiting)
  • Melodic Adventures in Bass Land - working through some of the more engaging pieces
  • The Mighty Accordion - so far used it as a reference only, but will work through the exercises
Did you also take lesson whilst using them?
  • No, no local music teachers
Were the books suggested by a teacher?
  • No, picked up endorsements for them from this site and Reddit

Did you find the progression engaging (was it advancing enough to keep interest but within your learning curve)?
  • Palmer Hughes - so far yes. As others have noted many of the tunes are dated or very US-centric (no offense to US members). But still, there's been enough tunes I've enjoyed to keep me interested, and I find I'm learning enough new things to make it worth keeping at it.
  • Melodic adventures - Enjoyed the first half of the book, and learned a lot. I found many of the bass transcriptions of the tunes not interesting enough to persevere with though, pretty much sticking to the few remaining technical exercises now.
  • The Mighty Accordion - as above, haven't started working through it yet.

Were topics did you feel weren't addressed that should have been?
  • Palmer Hughes - I would find it more helpful if there was a bit more guidance in it. For example, each new piece generally introduces new techniques. While some of these are explained in the books I find that for many pieces I have to look through the tunes carefully to identify all the new techniques etc and try to understand them. If I was working with a music teacher they would undoubtedly point many of these things out and provide a bit more background. Would be handy if there was an accompanying Teachers Manual.
  • Melodic adventures - I just viewed this as more a bit of fun.

What things did you have to figure out yourself?
  • In relation to my comments on Palmer Hughes - things like when you move to playing a 7th chord it seems common to start off with the alternate bass, rather than the fundamental bass
Cheers

David
 

Zevy

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My main problem when learning the accordion was to stop associating dynamics with finger/key pressure. I started after I had been playing the piano for 5 years, and 50 years on too much attack is still a problem. Sadly there is no accordion method designed to work on key attack.
Hi Paul,
I look at the lack of touch sensitivity on the accordion as an advantage. It allows me to "hit" the keys at any degree of force and work on the dynamics purely through bellows technique. There are some exceptions to the rule, and one may accentuate the music by landing on keys in a specific way, but in general, the way one plays the keys (or buttons) is irrelevant.
 

losthobos

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I've piles of books and sneak snippets from each here and there, abandon and repeat as the mood takes..
I tend to absorb more watching players of many instruments on youtube but need to remind myself to watch/read/search out less and put in hands on playing more....
 
D

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I remember in the 1990s in Belgium, our accordion teachers learned a lot from the 20th century Russian accordion education system. Many of our teachers followed masterclasses given by Russian bayanists and accordionists.

The Russians had developed a very thorough method of learning bayan and accordion.
The Russian accordion methods and tutor books work very systematically (the German methods are also very systematic in design). They use folk melodies and gradually increase the difficulty level in variations and techniques, using folky recognizable melodies for these variations. A pleasant technique for the student/pupil.

To get an idea of the thoroughness of the Russian system, I'd like to refer to the Friedrich Lips book "The Art of Bayan playing".
I have the German translation from Russian ("Die Kunst des Bajanspiels. Methodik und Didaktik des künstlerischen Akkordeonspiels"). There are other Russian textbooks on accordion technique, but only in Russian, not translated to English.

Even as a C-system CBA player, I learned a lot from B-system bayan tutor books. But of course, I had to use my own fingering notations for C-system accordion.

(I would also like to know what the present Chinese CBA teachers and professors in China are using for method books, didactics, accordion technique. Especially for c-system chromatic button accordion).
 

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