Exercises on B/C Box

Exercises on B/C Box

Has anyone ever come across finger exercises for traditional music on B/C box? I’m trying to improve my speed/accuracy and think something like this might be useful - also useful ultimately as warm-up exercises.

Practicing scales seems a little pointless.

I’m thinking of musical sequences with variations on cuts, rolls, etc in different timings (6/8, 4/4, etc).



Re: Exercises on B/C Box

I haven’t seen anything that has finger exercises as such, other than playing rolls and cuts on all notes, but I find playing tunes themselves is pretty good way of practicing, the tune will tell you pretty quickly whether you have it or not.

maybe you should come at it from a different perspective, pick a tune that you have problems with, explain what you do and then ask people how they approach that tune…

one approach you should probably always try to apply, while playing a note, try and have your finger over the next note to be played (almost touching it, it’s not always possible but I would say you should be able to do it most of the time).

Often, problems can come from not using the correct fingers to play the notes and often the correct finger is determined by the tune.

I would take it easy on the ornamentation at first and try and make sure you’re not running out of fingers first.

are you making good use of the B on the Push (when appropriate) and to a lesser extent the E on the pull.

Re: Exercises on B/C Box

I have not in book form.

Peter Browne has a teaching video that goes into depth with techniques:


Please correct me if I’m wrong, but there just doesn’t seem to be that much out there as far as written training materials for intermediate box players to advance their skills.

I suggest as an idea, perhaps pick a relatively simple tune with repeated notes, for example with jigs like the Kesh or Jimmy Ward’s and experiment with variations using cuts, rolls, etc. Then do the same thing for a reel with a lot of repeated notes, like The Silver Spear.

I don’t think practicing your box skills in the context of tunes is any less effective, my guess it would be more effective, than practicing the skills in isolation, so it’s worth considering doing both. Practicing them in the context of tunes forces you to learn to come at the rolls and such dynamically from many melodic contours rather than in a static context.

Sounds like you’re not playing bass/chords yet, when you do, or if you already do and are looking for some exercises in the context of tunes to learn to play bass, I’ve put together some training materials and a free PDF book at:


Re: Exercises on B/C Box

Thanks for the advice.

The B on push may well be the first button to wear out . . .


Re: Exercises on B/C Box

And thank you Michael. I have been following your work on bass techniques. I have a slightly different approach, but you have encouraged me to work at it - I played a piano box as a kid (for my sins) and am trying to shoehorn that bass knowledge and expectation into just 8 buttons!

Re: Exercises on B/C Box

Matt, great! I also play the C-system chromatic button accordion with Stradella bass and if you already have the bass skills and understanding of backup, once you get the push/pull bass feel in your body, you’ll be off to the races.

The one transcription in my collection of “Fanny Power” pretty much has everything a piano box player would need to practice to make the transition to push/pull basses. It puts you through all the directional combinations in fairly rapid sequence. There are much more challenging tunes melodically in the set, but the essential bass skills to internalize are all there in that one. 🙂

Re: Exercises on B/C Box

Some exercises designed for C#/D players but which may be of interest to B/C players too.


BTW I think practising scales is far from pointless. Learn all 12 major scales on your box, just for fun. And then minor scales, why not. And then arpeggios. It’ll teach you a lot - indeed, everything - about your keyboard, and about useful fingering patterns.

Re: Exercises on B/C Box

Apparently some people’s idea of “fun” is very different than mine, still good advice. 🙂

Re: Exercises on B/C Box

I know that I find it both useful and fun to go through tunes in twelve keys.

Re: Exercises on B/C Box

Nice thread!!!!

I am very interested in creating a Facebook group or WhatsApp group to share things about Irish box. Specially the fingering. I don’t really mind the system as long as there is a semitone in between the rows. But yes, I play B/C. With a mobile app though, I have no money for an accordion. I absolutely love the mobile app, I know It won’t be a problem for me if I have never have a box.

For the fingering I am trying to do this:

- I try not to use the pinky, only if there is almost no other choice. But this is really rare, it only happened to me with The March Of Kings Of Laois in F.

- I’m not doing exercises, I only try to play tunes.

- The only ornaments I’m playing for the moment are cuts. I always do them using the buttons, never using the bellows.

- I am sliding the finger through the buttons quite a lot and in all directions.

Wow very interesting to see that there are people like me that like to play in all the keys. I am very interested in three keys that use the B row as the main one: B Major, E Major and F# Major (and related minor keys). I would like to prove that the B/C system is just perfect to play in the original keys of the traditional Castillian dulzaina tuned in F#.

I am not using the base at all for the moment, I’m leaving that for the future, when I feel more comfortable with the right hand.