Saturday, 22 August 2009
The accordion is a great instrument for playing on it's own. It has a rich, full sound that is complete in itself. You can play the accordion with other instruments too, and it is an important instrument in many bands, especially folk bands, Morris bands and the like.
When you start learning how to play accordion, you will probably start by playing simple tunes on your own. Then as you progress, it is really fun to find other musicians to play with as this can help you to develop and expand your repertoire. It also encourages you to practise so that you can keep up with the other people you play with.
Practising on a regular basis is very important, so here are a few important tips about practising your accordion playing.
Where should you Practise?
The accordion tends to be a loud instrument. You can alter the dynamics by squeezing the bellows strongly (louder) or gently (more quiet sounds), but when you are learning how to play accordion it is difficult to think about this, as well as concentrating on the notes and chords you are learning. To be honest, it is also more satisfying to play louder when you are practising - the bits you get right sound good and when you make mistakes you can't pretend they didn't happen!
So find a quiet place that is reasonably far away from other people - indoors is best. Then you can squeeze away and make a lovely loud sound without disturbing your family and neighbours. When you are in a quiet place, you are also better able to hear what you are doing without the distractions of other noises, or the opinions of people. And believe me, friends and family can have plenty of interesting opinions about your playing!
When is the Best Time to Practise?
It's really up to you when you practise. It helps if you can devote a specific time each day so that it becomes a habit. This also helps other people as they know when you are going to be making your musical sounds, and are less likely to disturb you.
How Often should you Practise?
You really need to practise every day, especially when you are first learning how to play accordion. Little and often is far better than long sessions once every now and again. If you can manage half an hour each day, that is brilliant. But less is also fine as long as you make it regular.
What Should you Practise?
Scales are really important, and you should play a few scales at the beginning of every practice session. Start with treble scales on the keyboard, then when you can play the keyboard confidently, you can start learning some scales on the bass keyboard.
When I started learning how to play accordion I never did scales, and my own way of teaching myself ensured I learned some bad habits. It was only when I started going to a teacher that I learned the value of scales. The things about scales is that they teach your fingers the best way to reach notes. When you regularly practise them you then find it much much easier to find all the notes and chords in the tunes you want to play.
By the way - you can practise scales and finding notes without your accordion - just regularly exercise your fingers by tapping out the scale patterns on a table or even in the air!
Simple tunes that have just a few notes and chords are the best ones to start with. A good method when you start learning how to play accordion is to play a melody just with the right hand on the treble (piano) keyboard. Keep playing it until you can do it easily. Then practise the bass part with the buttons on the left hand side of the accordion. Again, keep on playing it until you can do it easily. Finally, put the two parts together. Eventually you will be able to play the whole tune competently and will be ready to move on to the next one.
The wonderful thing about practising is that the more you do it, the easier it gets. Once you have mastered your first tune with melody and chords, you will find your second piece of music much easier to learn. Then it won't take long before you can play a selection of tunes well enough to entertain. You will really impress people with how quickly you have learned how to play accordion.