button accordion newbie

button accordion newbie

Just received my first button box (B/C) and am looking for good learning materials online. I’m only finding books and videos to order, which I will also do. In the meantime, I wanted something to get me started. Any suggestions?

Re: button accordion newbie

Dear ariesfiddler,
Leave the husband with the cat and dogs and meet me in Dublin tomorrow night.
The rest will fall into place……

Re: button accordion newbie

There’s a DVD by PJ Hernon, and a short tutorial book called The Button Box. There really isn’t a lot around to teach yourself the B/C box.

Start off by getting used to the button layout by playing scales and arpeggios, particularly G and D. You need to cross the rows to get both these on a B/C.

Re: button accordion newbie

Forgot to add, check out melodeon.com, there’s people on there who can give good advice, and some useful online resources.

Re: button accordion newbie

There is a tutorial video/DVD from Homespun Records from John Williams that is pretty good. And I have an old video somewhere with Peter Browne demonstrating a whole bunch of ornamentation methods—but it is not really an entry-level thing. And there is a Mad For Trad DVD tutorial available that I hear is pretty good. Not a lot of books around.
My advice is get a teacher to show you. No amount of books and tapes can replace someone who can look at you and say "it would be easier to hold your fingers this way," etc etc.
I have had a B/C accordion for a few years, and because it is not my primary instrument, am still in the rudimentary phase on the instrument (airs, a few jigs, a few polkas, just starting to learn some reels). But even though I don’t have lots of time to devote to it, I find it is a very enjoyable instrument to play.
Have fun!

Re: button accordion newbie

Like Al does, I’ll recommend John Williams’ "Learn to Play Irish Button Accordion" for understanding the basics of both the bass and treble sides of a B/C. I recommend Peter Browne’s video too because it helps you to understand how some of those rapid triplets, cuts, and rolls are made.

If you can’t get a teacher, it helps if you’ve got favorite B/C players to inspire you so you can listen to their recorded music and maybe slow the tunes down with a sampler so you can analyze what they’re doing.

There’s a large and useful compilation of reels and jigs played at a moderate pace by Paddy O’Brien, an excellent B/C player from Offaly, available to buy at this site: http://www.chulrua.com/pobwhat.html

Posted by .

Re: button accordion newbie

John Williams is a good way to start. You can also get his *Steam* CD for inspiration. Otherwise, pick up the Walton books and CDs and get going at your own rythm.
One word of advice regarding fingering, that I wish I had heard when I started out: EASY ON THE PINKY. Using it very sparingly opened new horizons for me, and my playing has improved considerably since. There’s a thread about it on this site somewhere, as I recall.

Re: button accordion newbie

I always thought the goal was to bring Mr. Pinky up to snuff by using him and thereby strengthening his muscles through practice.
I must say, however, I saw Jackie Daly up close about a year ago, and he barely ever used his pinky while he played.

Re: button accordion newbie

Thanks for the Pinky thread Laitch.
Al, why don’t try leaving Mr Pinky in the doghouse for a while and see what happens. It’s not about strength, it’s about increased mastery of the keyboard. and getting those spatial ratios built into the neural pathways (sounds pompous, but it makes sense). You will play with increeased speed and confidence, guaranteed. Besides, you can always bring Mr Pinky back, but my guess is that you won’t use it that often after a while.

Re: button accordion newbie

I will give it a try!

Re: button accordion newbie

I’ve found also that I’m using my pinky less than I used to. As a convert from the piano, at first I thought that having the strength and dexterity to use the pinky was an asset. Maybe it is, but I’m thinking that maybe one of the reasons for avoiding using it is to keep it free to use for ornaments. If you arrange your fingering for the melody notes (with whatever degree of advance planning you use) to make minimal use of the pinky, it’s usually available for cuts.

Re: button accordion newbie

Get your hands on anything Joe Burke has ever done and if you do make it to Ireland take some lessons with him or go hear him play. Good luck!!

Posted by .

Re: button accordion newbie

The button accordion is a fairly easy instrument. Instructional videos can help, but really, they aren’t entirely nessecary.

Re: button accordion newbie

I wouldn’t advise the mad for trad CD, I personally didn’t find it helpful. I doubt any video is helpful, except one where they give some theory (like the bases/chords) or tips (like ornamentation, pointers)… but seeing as how fingering is totally subjective and variable it’s not like you really need lessons on ‘how to play’… just play the way it feels easiest / sounds nicest to you…
Of course private lessons are invaluable… unfortunately I haven’t been able to follow any after being playing for err like almost 4 months though :/

In my personal page you can find a link to some recorded tunes on my B/C box… so you can get an idea of how you could sound after a few weeks / months of playing without lessons… (ps: any tips are most welcome !!)

Best of luck !

- Vince

Posted by .

Re: button accordion newbie

I would have to agree with the guys who are talking about avoiding the pinky.

I recently had a great private lesson with Eoghan O’Sullivan who told me the same thing. And it’s been a huge help. I’m finding that there are some tunes where I’m still using it but mostly for ornamentation (rolls off the ring finger etc.) and certain places where it’s easier to use it for half a second rather than shift my whole hand (and usually when the note after it falls in the same direction but not always) . Anyway, try it and see if it suits you.

Posted by .

Re: button accordion newbie

Ha, I just entered because of this interesting discussion.
I use the little finger on the B/C accordion. How else can you play a high a roll?
Ann Conroy Burke said in a summer course: you got a little finger, so why not use it?
I think, there is some truth to it. As one does not need much
power in the fingers for the playing, I find using the little finger convenient.
For me learning through playing scales and arpeggios did not help. I got started through about 10 introductory lessons from a teacher (Tina McLoughlin) by imitation, directly learning tunes. Then I went to several music summer courses in Ireland - a lot of fun!! I made good experience by singing the notes loudly in parallel to pressing the respective buttons. That worked astonishingly well for getting familiarised with the buttons. I would try to never shift the hand when playing, otherwise one never gets acquainted with the geometry of the keybord. I disagree with Zazzaliss: I find the button accordian a terribly difficult instrument, because it is so counterintuitive. Therefore, the magic advice for learning the accordian may be: Be patient with yourselve.
Best wishes,
Christoph