Box players advice: speeding up on accordion

Box players advice: speeding up on accordion

A topic that has been covered in numerous other threads but I’d like to hear an opinion from (more experienced) box players in particular.

Been at the B/C accordion for 3 years and started playing two-handed (playing the basses) about a year ago.

I’ve never had problems with tempo or speeding up, but about since I’ve started playing two-handed consistently I’ve been told various times I speed everything up. This came as particular bad news since it was the first time I’ve ever heard something like that about my playing and tempo is something I hold in high regard. I’ve seen people who have such bad rythm that they can’t play along with a Youtube video, they finish up a couple measures ahead in a matter of seconds and have to stop playing and synch up again, repeat the process every twenty measures and then blame the Youtube video (every single one of them). This is just to say I’m not that kind of person and actually find such lack of sense of rythm and phrasing rather ghastly.

I’ve broken down the problem, I’ve recorded myself and this is what seems to be the highlight of the problem:

-When I play one-handed, I do not speed up, not 1 bpm. In any given situation.

-When I play two-handed, I speed up a lot in a matter of a couple of minutes. But once it gets to a certain number of bpms, I don’t speed up any further. A factor would be that I like playing fast: I’m able to and usually play fast when I’m alone or playing solo. Apparently I unconsciously speed up everything until I get to my favourite tempo. Another factor would be concentrating too much on the punchiness of the basses, having them hit exactly on the sweet spots. Listening carefully to myself playing I can actually hear the speeding up happening, but only if I pay close attention and keep myself from enjoying the music and from concentrating on dynamics and accents, which is a shame. Starting the tune a little slower than required seemed like a good idea, but with me it actually doesn’t help. Tried practicing on metronome, speeding up doesn’t happen, same with recordings or Youtube videos. With live people, alone or solo: keeps happening.

Re: Box players advice: speeding up on accordion

Listen to your right hand and let the basses follow. I’m very Rhanded and my L always is off a tad. To compensate I seem to think about the L. Doing so gets a bit of adrenaline going and I over compensate. It’s better when I listen too and think about the melody. Apparently my mind is easily tricked.

Re: Box players advice: speeding up on accordion

Try a metronome, or playing with a guitarist who is steady. practise left hand on its own perhaps?

Re: Box players advice: speeding up on accordion

What kind of bass accompaniment are you doing? Occasional taps and blasts (inspired by modern uilleann pipes regulator playing)? Constant vamping (oom-pah oom-pah)? Or flailing away apparently randomly like some older box players? :)

If you are doing a constant accompaniment it might be easier if you introduced a bit of space. For example, if you mainly tap the chords on the off-beat, say in reels, you can bring your foot into the equation. If you tap your foot strongly on the on-beat and hit the chord on the off-beat, you should find you can pay attention to all three components (melody, foot, chords). Start slowly and it might be easier to get everything in synch.

If you play any waltzes that lend themselves to bass accompaniment, they can be a good training exercise. Or jigs with block chords rather than oom-[space]-pah.

Re: Box players advice: speeding up on accordion

It could just be that you need more practice on the left hand. D/G melodeon players usually learn to use both hands together from the start and so have done an equal amount of work on both hands but you are a relatively experienced player with your right hand while being an inexperienced player with your left. The inexperienced player is the one who is speeding up. You could try playing some left-hand only accompaniments along with recordings or other players till your left hand gets the hang of what it’s there for. It has 2 years catching up to do. No wonder it’s in a hurry!

Re: Box players advice: speeding up on accordion

Doesn’t sound like you *really* have a problem, you’re just accessing a groove that works for you, which is natural enough.

Try spending 5-10 minutes a day practicing at about 75% of a "normal" playing speed.

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Re: Box players advice: speeding up on accordion

It’s not peculiar to box players! I can think of various players of other instruments who do it. The solution is in listening, listening, listening, and watching, watching, watching! Whatever instrument you play it will almost always sound loudest to you, so you may well follow your own course without actually hearing or seeing what else is going on around you. No place for playing with the eyes closed as I have seen some of the worst offenders do! I’m not a fan of heavy stamping out the beat either. Just listen and watch when you’re playing with others - and when on your own, as others have said, practice with a metronome.

Re: Box players advice: speeding up on accordion

There is a tendency to speed up when things get more difficult and you have more to think about. As Trish says, it can apply to all instruments.
So, it just takes a bit more concentration and effort when you are trying to do two things at once. I find that when I play the harp, I will often speed up as, sometimes, I don’t always give the "left hand notes" the full length.

Also, with difficult passages in tunes especially some strathspeys where there is a rapid succession of notes, there is often a tendency to rush the tricky sections. We can all be guilty of that, unfortunately.

Re: Box players advice: speeding up on accordion

Aye, it is all about note values. Don’t rush runs of semiquavers, do hold long notes for their full value especially dotted ones, and don’t ever be afraid of temporary silence, (aka rests)!