Musical Instrument

Best Tips to Play the Accordion

You may imagine that playing the accordion requires extensive information of musical notation. But guess what? It actually doesn’t. So if you’re a beginner, and would like to discover more about how to play the accordion, read on to discover helpful tips.

Getting To Know Your Accordion

1. Get the correct type of accordion

There are variety of different accordions out there, however some are more well-suited for beginners than others. The more information you gather the better equipped you will be to successfully learn how to play the accordion. Here is the most reasonable option for beginners :

  • Piano Accordions. These are the most popular kinds, with many of the capacities of a standard piano (playing melodies, chords and basslines) in a highly portable size. They have between 25 and 45 piano-style treble keys on the right hand. On the left, they are equipped with a button keyboard with some buttons that play bass notes and some where a single button plays a three-note chord. This accordion system is called the Stradella, and ordinarily has 120 bass buttons.

2. Familiarize yourself with the instrument’s structure

Your accordion is composed of several sections, all crucial to the accordion’s sounds :

  • Melody Keys. These are keys on the keyboard part of the instrument.
  • Bellows. These are the folds on the instrument that permit it to expand and contract, acting as the “lungs” for the instrument and making the sound.
  • Register Switches. These are buttons or tabs you press to change the tone of your accordion.There are generally register switches on the treble side for the piano keyboard and a second set for the bass buttons. The register switches can change the sound from deep and rich to high and thin.
  • Air Valve. The air valve button permits air to escape, so you can open or close the bellows soundlessly.
  • Right Hand Strap. This is the fundamental strap of the instrument that permits you to secure it onto your chest. Some accordions have two straps for the chest.

3. Use the right size

Kids or teens and adults will need to start off with various sizes due to the difference in hand and general body size.

  • Youngsters should begin with the lowest number of bass buttons, 12 bass and 25 treble keys.
  • Teens and adults should begin with a 48 bass accordion. This amounts to 48 bass buttons and 26 treble piano keys.
  • The 48 bass Piano Accordion is very lightweight, and simple to use and handle. Furthermore, you can play lots of different music on it, which will make you want to hang on to it even if you outgrow it or progress to a bigger instrument.

4. Spot your accordion on your chest with the key buttons facing away from you

When you start handling your instrument in the next section of the article, your left arm will move horizontally and vertically, while your right hand will only move vertically. For now, just hold it and see how comfortable or awkward it is.

Holding Your Accordion

1. Sit or stand while holding your accordion

Some people prefer to stand while playing and others like to sit with their instrument. All that matters is your sense of comfort and confidence, so try out a few various positions until you feel at ease.

2. Don’t slouch

Your body posture is significant when playing this instrument and slouching will cause you to be inaccurate in your balance and consequently in your presentation.

3. Learn proper balance

The accordion is generally large and requires a little bit of familiarity when holding it. Being able to maintain proper balance is crucial. The more equitably balanced you manage to keep the accordion’s weight, the better you’ll be able to play because of the additional control. And the more control you have, the less uncomfortable the weight will feel.

4. Secure the instrument onto your chest. 

Slip your left arm under the strap of the instrument. You’ll need to hold it as if you were putting on a backpack on your chest. The piano keys ought to be to your right and your left hand goes underneath the bass strap – the small strap on the left side of the instrument.

  • Note that there is normally a thumb wheel on the left side to adjust the strap.
  • Ensure that your accordion fits tightly enough not to move at all while you move.

5. Try a back strap

An additional strap can be extremely helpful. The back strap keeps the shoulder straps together so that the accordion doesn’t move.

  • Note that if the back strap is excessively far down it alleviates weight from the shoulders, making the straps loose on top. This, in turn, causes your straps to move and slide.
  • Keep the back strap higher up, or secure it slantingly.
  • Remember that when the straps stay in place, so does your instrument.

6. Undo the safety buckles

The buckles can be found on the top and bottom of the instrument. Take care not to push or pull the accordion yet.

Playing Your Accordion

1. Hold your wrist parallel to the keyboard. 

Don’t bend your right wrist while keeping your elbow near to your side. It’ll be a bit awkward at the start but you’ll be able to achieve better accuracy as your hand’s circulation won’t be hindered.

  • This applies the right arm only.

2. Slip your left hand through the strap that lies below the bass button board.You’ll have the option to curl your fingers up and over the bass buttons. 

You right hand should be free and resting above the piano keyboard.

3. Push down on the air valve (a lone button on the left hand side near the strap). 

Press the button down softly, and pull your instrument with your left arm. You’ll hear a hissing noise as the air goes into the accordion & the bellows open.

  • Note that it’s significant to use this air valve button when you open and close the bellows while they’re moving.
  • Don’t press down on the keyboard while you’re opening and closing the bellows at thus point, as we are targeting on the bass buttons.

4. Focus on playing bass buttons first. 

No matter how many bass buttons your accordion has, you’ll soon notice that they produce both bass notes and chords. Accordion chord buttons on the left side play three note chords, or “vamps”, naturally. This is because to the accordion’s internal mechanism.

  • The expression “chord” refers to the sound produced by a group of notes played together.
  • Keep the bass buttons pressed for only a short time. Imagine they were on fire, and take your finger off rapidly. This is called “staccato” playing.

5. Try not to look at where your bass fingers are going, because you cannot see your bass fingers if you are positioned appropriately. 

For this reason, no professional accordionists look at their bass hand. This will be quite difficult at first, but do your best not to look at where your fingers go, or need to go . Figure out how to feel where the buttons are using your ear to tell you if you are on the right button.

6. Find the note C. 

This button is generally a bit buried or recessed, however can be found on the top rows of buttons 8,12, 16, 24, 36 of all bass instruments. If your accordion is a larger model, then look for the note C in the second row. It may have a mark, jewel or indentation.

7. We’ll try the piano keyboard later. 

For the present, your only concern should be getting comfortable with your instrument’s bass buttons. Focus on the first columns of bass buttons .

  • Regardless of how many bass columns your accordion has, you’ll only be taking at the first two or three columns. If you have a small beginner accordion, there may be only one column of bass buttons and then columns of chord buttons. In contrast, a big 120 bass accordion has two columns of bass buttons and four chord columns. If you have a 120 bass instrument, the bass column second from the front is known as the “fundamental bass”; it is your main bass column. For now, you don’t need to use the first column on your 120 bass section.

8. Place your index finger on the C note. 

Then, tuck your thumb under your index finger and push on the button right beside the bass note C, the C Major chord. This button will be right beside (and off-center in an upwards direction) from the C bass button that your index finger is pressing (Note: all references to “beside” or “upwards” are in respect to an accordion in playing position, strapped on your chest).

9. Pull the bellows out. 

Then, press the two buttons alternately (C bass note and the C chord) to create a sort of of oom-pah sound.

  • Try to pull the bellows smoothly for the best audio effect.

10. Attempt a Waltz rhythm. 

The beat for the Waltz goes 1, 2, 3–1, 2, 3. This sounds like “oom-pah-pah”. Play the C note on the main beat, and push the button right beside the C (the C Major chord button) on the second and third beats. As referenced before, play all the notes staccato.

11. Play the corresponding two bass buttons above and below the two you’ve just learned to play. 

The bass button below is F. The bass button above the C is G. With the F, you play the bass note F and the F Major chord button. For the G, you play the G bass button and the G Major chord. Normally, each chord is repeated several times before evolving. This is how you can create a simple accompaniment, or vamp. With just these three bass notes and chords, you could accompany hundreds of simple folk tunes and mainstream melodies!

12. Add the bellows. 

Now try to pull the bellows in as you alternately press the buttons you just learned. Repeat this multiple times to practice.

13. Practice the right-hand keyboard with little exercises. 

The note C (or Do) is the white key beside and above the two black notes. Let’s attempt a keyboard scale exercise that will help you produce your first, controlled sound sequence:

  • Expand the instrument’s bellows.
  • Softly and evenly push it back together, and hold the 1st C key down.
  • Keep pressing the note key while you change directions by pulling the instrument in opposite directions.
  • Go to the next key, push in and pull apart.
  • Jump to the next white keys one by one, and you have now played Do, Re, Mi, Fa, So, La, Si, Do (Also known as the notes C, D, E, F, G,A, B, C).

14. Try a right-hand chord exercise. 

This keyboard exercise has a chord, and you can leave your fingers on the keyboard. Put your thumb on the C, and little on the G: start with the third finger on the E.

15. Continue practicing at a steady tempo. 

Rhythmic time-keeping is one of the key roles of the accordion. One way to get steady rhythm is to exercise with a metronome.

16. Try to play bass buttons and right-hand chords at the same time. 

Play a C bass note alternating with a C Major bass button chord until it is smooth and simple. Then add in a right-hand C Major chord (the white notes C, E and G). This right-hand chord can be sustained, or it can go along with the bass button chords.

  • Coordination of both hands might seem a bit difficult at first, so it’s significant that you become very familiar with the necessary movements. Repeat the above exercise until you feel confident and can move on to more advanced songs.

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  • I agree with what you said that one of the best tips in playing the accordion is familiarizing yourself with the instrument’s structure, especially the sections that are crucial to its sounds. My dad has always dreamed of owning his own accordion, but sadly, he passed away without purchasing one. I plan to buy one for myself to make his dream come true, so I’ll take note of all your tips to use it once I start practicing how to play the instrument.

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