Ancient beginner
#1
Hullo accordionists all.  I have made my way here by the circuitous route of the folk revival of the sixties, hence guitar, banjo, etc.  Largely accustomed to busking chords to blues and folk songs, I decided to give diatonic accordions a go some years ago and taught myself to play, though largely lost the impetus with pressure of work and other pursuits.  I returned to the squeezing work a couple of years ago, and have reached the level of being able to play somewhat inadequately for Morris dancers, although I found the standard repertoire rather limited.  I bought a three row G/C box with the third row comprising accidentals and reversals.  With this I could theoretically play in any key in the upper register, although the bass is pretty limited still.

I finally decided to dip my toe into the water of chromatic unisonoric accordion playing.  Being a creature of a contrary nature I have bought myself a rather decrepit, but functional c system button accordion with 96 button stradella.  I made an attempt to teach myself, using the rather limited resources offered by the very few tutor books published in English (Anzaghi, Galliano, also Palmer & Hughes which is not adapted to the button accordion) and one in French (Maugein) which uses the confusing (to me at least) solfège notation system.  All give instructions on the playing of the stradella, which as a time-served chordal busker I find theoretically straightforward being based on the circle of fifths.  The practical side, however, is another story.  I am struggling to find my bearings on the  bass, and find my fingers wandering in a featureless desert of identical tiny buttons which only reveal their true nature when I play the (usually dissonant) note/chord.

The treble side poses less of a problem.  I can play scales in most keys, and the nice thing is that you only have to shift your starting point to use the same fingering for any key.  Similar to a guitar or mandolin in this respect.  Accidentals involve shifting one button diagonally up or down.

Being now over 71 time is no longer on my side, so I am off for my first music lesson in over forty years next Wednesday.  Hope springs eternal, eh?
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#2
You are about to start out on an endless and intoxicating experience.
If you are very lucky you may not become an obsessive.
Enjoy yourself!
Richard
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#3
Hello Chris,

Welcome to the forum, where I feel sure you be right at home.

Please keep us informed of your progress (and any setbacks).

Have Fun.

Kind Regards,

Stephen.
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#4
Hi Chris,

The main issue with chromatic is its continued lack of popularity in the UK. You'll probably find in time that you'll just work out what fingering suits you best for the right hand, and I'll reiterate there is no right and wrong way to play the treble side. Various authors have devised their own methods which are fine in the beginner stage, but there is no need to follow them religiously.

Most of us, who started relatively late after having played other instruments, often have difficulty with the bass, and are more intent on working out the melodies. Most amateur players never really progress much beyond the simple alternate bass accompaniment, which you'll sometimes see being referred to on here as "oompah". A lot of the folk accordion styles only call for that, but the serious brigade will always remind us that it is rather basic.

It really all depends how far you want to take it, and as long as you're enjoying it, then the opinions of others are precisely that. 

Anzaghi's dual piano/chromatic method tends to be the bible for Italian chromatic players, who have always been in the minority there, except in certain areas of the northern part of the country. It was at one time about the only CBA method available in the UK. Maugain's French method is rarely known outside of France, and obviously leans heavily towards the modern French musette style of playing. You'll find it is for instruments possessed of 4 rows only, and I've never seen a French method that caters for 5 rows. A bit more laid back than Anzaghi, but at three volumes with those CD demo tracks that go missing with amazing regularity, then it isn't cheap. 

For 5 row playing you're probably as well to stick with Anzaghi, as it has stood the test of time. Palmer Hughes is very popular in the US, but I'd never heard of it until I joined the forum. 

I spent over 30 years trying to teach myself using a combination of French methods, most of which contradicted each other with regard to right hand fingering. All of those methods only gave basic instruction for the bass side, and I never really got past the oompah bass. 

I got tremendous pleasure out of the accordion for many years, but ultimately realised that it was just beyond my musical capability, for the music I wanted to play on it. The bass side defeated me entirely, as I wasn't possessed of the dexterity to play melody on the bass and treble at the same time. Now you don't actually need to be able to do that, but it kept annoying me. Had I started playing as a child I might have got to the "oompah, oompah, oom pah pah" stage on the bass, and even that could have made all the difference. 

I'm sure you'll come on in leaps and bounds now that you've found a teacher so early on into the learning process.   


Good luck.
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#5
Hi, 
Welcome, I hope you'll enjoy the CBA.
It could be useful to spend a few days or weeks to study the logic of the Stradella bass layout on paper. 
And the basic patterns, identical in all music keys. 

Do you know the works of Frédéric Deschamps, French accordion teacher? 
He published a modern CBA accordion method. Nouvelle approche technique. 

He's an expert in teaching young and adult accordion students.
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#6
Thanks to all for your hints, tips and encouragement. I’ve ordered the Deschamps book, and I’ve just returned from my first lesson.

I couldn’t be more pleased with my new found tutor; kind, thoughtful and quick on the uptake, she has spotted several errors in my attempts at playing, prescribed exercises and easy practice pieces to cure them, and been thoroughly encouraging to my efforts. The hour went by quickly and was very productive. Also quite taxing. I may need a little sit down later on today.
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#7
(26-06-2019, 05:28 PM)Chrisrayner Wrote: Thanks to all for your hints, tips and encouragement.  I’ve ordered the Deschamps book, and I’ve just returned from my first lesson.

I couldn’t be more pleased with my new found tutor; kind, thoughtful and quick on the uptake, she has spotted several errors in my attempts at playing, prescribed exercises and easy practice pieces to cure them, and been thoroughly encouraging to my efforts.  The hour went by quickly and was very productive.  Also quite taxing.  I may need a little sit down later on today.

If you have a tutor that is the way to go. The Stradella bass is quite logical and just takes a little time to get a mental image in your head. I'm a 70 yo piano box learner so keep at it - us oldies are not all past it.
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#8
(24-06-2019, 07:46 PM)Chrisrayner Wrote: Being now over 71 time is no longer on my side, so I am off for my first music lesson in over forty years next Wednesday.  Hope springs eternal, eh?

I am ahead of you by only 1 year. The question we must ask ourselves with regard to playing any instrument is, that 10 years from now, what will we think if we hadn't started today?
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#9
(09-07-2019, 02:06 AM)fphlpsnrg Wrote:
(24-06-2019, 07:46 PM)Chrisrayner Wrote: Being now over 71 time is no longer on my side, so I am off for my first music lesson in over forty years next Wednesday.  Hope springs eternal, eh?

I am ahead of you by only 1 year. The question we must ask ourselves with regard to playing any instrument is, that 10 years from now, what will we think if we hadn't started today?

I'm 71, 72 in about a month, and started my accordion journey about 2 years ago. fphlpsnrg is correct. Don't be one of those who when they finally do get old is sitting in some chair wishing they would have only done this or that. There are many excuses as to why one doesn't do something. I wanted to ride a motorcycle all of my life but something always got in the way. Parents. College, Work, Marriage, Children, Mortgage. Life. Well I finally got my license on my 59th birthday.  

I know I'll never play the accordion well or even good, but that is so not the point.
Cordially, Tony
Artisto, Italian, LMM, 41/120, PA
Warning: Only speaks/understands American English
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