Starting with the Accordion: An Introductory Guide for New Players




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learn the accordion

How long will it take me to learn the accordion?

So, you want to learn how to play the accordion? Great choice! Regardless of your musical or academic background, age, sex, height, or stature, becoming an accordionist could only positively affect your life.

This blog attracts people from all over the world who aspire to learn how to play the accordion. Learning how to play this magical musical instrument is a fun and rewarding journey. You can learn to play the accordion at any age and without prior experience in playing an instrument or knowledge of music theory. We are here to help you and guide you along the way regardless of your skill level.

When taking up a new hobby or learning a new skill you are often unsure where to start. Therefore, we created this blog to help you get all the information necessary to become a successful and skilled accordionist. (Accordionist is a person who plays the accordion).

Video courtesy of Lucy Riddet

The accordion is a compact, relatively inexpensive musical instrument that can truly serve you as a one-man band. It is great for developing that musical ear and laying a solid foundation for a future in music and perhaps playing other musical instruments as well.

Keep in mind that some of the most successful musicians and iconic singers started as accordionists.

Assuming that you already have an accordion in your household or will buy one soon, you want to start learning your first melodies and hopefully master the instrument. Everyone’s learning curve is different and for this reason, we can’t give a specific timeline for learning and mastering an accordion, but we can list “the most typical” length of time it takes to get to your desired level.

A beginner-level accordion player

Beginners or novice accordionists usually learn to play their first piece after the second week of practicing. For some, that learning curve can be as long as two months, but like with any new skill learning, practice and persistence are the keys to success. With an abundance of online tutorials becoming an accordionist at any age is not difficult.

Video courtesy of Alex Poole

How difficult it is to learn the accordion?

This is a common question amongst novice accordionists and those who are just considering learning a new skill or picking up a new hobby.

Before you actually start playing the instrument, pushing buttons with your left hand, and playing piano keys with the right hand while squeezing and stretching the bellow could look quite intimidating.

Once you familiarize yourself with the instrument and its intricacies, it grows on your pretty quickly. Many novice accordionists, music coaches, and even pros will tell you that it is not that difficult to learn the accordion.

Video courtesy of Luke Westaway

They will often tell you that you can only benefit from learning a new musical instrument. Those musicians whose first musical instrument was an accordion, say that it helped them develop a musical ear a lot. Learning how to synchronize bass with keyboard sounds can significantly help you develop and refine your auditory abilities.

What is the best accordion for beginners?

The majority of beginners in the United States and Canada start learning their first pieces of music on a piano accordion. If a student is desiring to learn how to play a button accordion from the get-go so he or she can play Texmex, cajun, or Russian folk songs and melodies, then a button accordion would naturally be the best choice.

The age group will also determine what size of an accordion is the most appropriate for a young musician. Although new generation accordions are getting lighter and lighter, children who are under the age of 15 would usually get 12 to 48 bass accordions. An 8-bass accordion is designed for children 5 years of age or younger.

An Intermediate Level Accordionist

At this level, you are a certified accordionist. Congratulations! You’ve gone through and mastered your first 4 or 5 lessons and now you feel comfortable playing them in front of your family and friends.

You are still learning how to read sheet music, but your ear is becoming well trained to recognize the scales, registers, bass buttons, and keys on your new instrument. Intermediate-level accordionists play the instrument either as hobbyists or music students who want to become proficient in playing a particular musical instrument.

They play regularly at least a couple of times a week and after the first couple of years, they can play with confidence and progress to a more complex piece. Usually, accordionists who have played continuously for a couple of years have their musical ear developed at this point to even play a lot of melodies simply by ear.

Are Virtual Music Lessons a good choice?

Yes, they are. Learning how to play the accordion with help from a virtual tutor is a great way to learn the instrument as long as you are following the instructions from your tutor on your own accordion. Some novices often choose their first five lessons to be in person, one on one with their instructor so they can get acquainted with the instrument and then they continue their course of learning online.

An advanced Accordionist

Advanced level accordionist: After your third year of playing the accordion you will earn a title of an advanced level accordionist. You can now join a band, play complex pieces solo or maybe even record some for YouTube videos.

If you’ve started your first lessons on a piano accordion now you can try out a button accordion or vice versa. Advanced-level accordionists often play both types of accordions and this way get to know the instrument well. It helps them decide what type of accordion they eventually want to master.

A Master Accordionist

After playing the accordion for more than a decade, and in most cases studying music theory at a college and university level, these musicians are now career accordionists.

They often play in bands, have a successful solo careers, teach accordion lessons to future accordionists, or play in a symphonic orchestra. Since the popularity of the accordion has been on the rise in the last two decades and is growing, mastering this underrated instrument and making it a career would certainly be a good choice.

What type of accordion should I start learning on?

While some accordionists think that there is no simple and clear-cut answer to this question, we will try to give you one in order to make your selection easier. We would recommend you go with the type of accordion that is prevalent in your geographical region.

So, if you live in the US or Canada where piano accordions lead the way, get a piano accordion and a piano accordion teacher. If you live in Russia or Eastern Europe, perhaps getting a button accordion as a beginner would be a better choice.

Once you learn the basics of either instrument or reach an intermediate level of performance, you will be able to switch from one technique to another much easier. We go a bit more in-depth about the differences between a button and a piano accordion in this article.

Also, if you are learning the accordion in order to continue a family and folklore tradition, then stick with the traditional instrument. Even if you live in areas where button accordions are not prevalent, you can find an instructor as well as the accordion type that suits your needs.

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