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advice for beginning accordion

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GUEST,Jeff 30 Nov 02 - 09:40 PM
Cluin 30 Nov 02 - 09:48 PM
DonMeixner 30 Nov 02 - 10:21 PM
CarolC 30 Nov 02 - 10:34 PM
khandu 30 Nov 02 - 10:35 PM
CarolC 30 Nov 02 - 10:45 PM
khandu 30 Nov 02 - 10:49 PM
CarolC 30 Nov 02 - 10:57 PM
Cluin 30 Nov 02 - 11:03 PM
khandu 30 Nov 02 - 11:04 PM
Cluin 30 Nov 02 - 11:08 PM
DonMeixner 30 Nov 02 - 11:24 PM
CarolC 30 Nov 02 - 11:27 PM
Cluin 30 Nov 02 - 11:33 PM
CarolC 30 Nov 02 - 11:39 PM
Cluin 30 Nov 02 - 11:48 PM
GUEST,.gargoyle 30 Nov 02 - 11:52 PM
wysiwyg 30 Nov 02 - 11:58 PM
selby 01 Dec 02 - 03:49 AM
Boab 01 Dec 02 - 04:33 AM
brid widder 01 Dec 02 - 05:28 AM
Peter T. 01 Dec 02 - 10:30 AM
EBarnacle1 01 Dec 02 - 11:00 AM
GUEST,coinwolf 01 Dec 02 - 11:20 AM
Peter T. 01 Dec 02 - 11:51 AM
Rick Fielding 01 Dec 02 - 11:58 AM
GUEST,.gargoyle 01 Dec 02 - 12:27 PM
Bernard 01 Dec 02 - 01:21 PM
Bernard 01 Dec 02 - 01:41 PM
CarolC 01 Dec 02 - 01:48 PM
greg stephens 01 Dec 02 - 05:22 PM
vectis 01 Dec 02 - 05:34 PM
Bernard 01 Dec 02 - 08:26 PM
Bernard 01 Dec 02 - 08:38 PM
CarolC 01 Dec 02 - 08:55 PM
Bernard 01 Dec 02 - 08:56 PM
Boab 02 Dec 02 - 03:00 AM
Dave Bryant 02 Dec 02 - 07:06 AM
GUEST,noddy 02 Dec 02 - 07:11 AM
GUEST,Sam Pirt 05 Dec 02 - 06:09 AM
Peter T. 05 Dec 02 - 08:48 AM
Bernard 05 Dec 02 - 05:07 PM
vectis 05 Dec 02 - 08:22 PM
Mark Clark 05 Dec 02 - 08:49 PM
Mark Clark 05 Dec 02 - 09:49 PM
GUEST,SHIFTER 06 Dec 02 - 10:18 AM
Declan 06 Dec 02 - 10:42 AM
banjoman 07 Dec 02 - 07:18 AM
CarolC 07 Dec 02 - 12:21 PM
GUEST,J Shand jnr 07 Dec 02 - 02:03 PM
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Subject: advice for beginning accordion
From: GUEST,Jeff
Date: 30 Nov 02 - 09:40 PM

I have just started playing accordion, a 120 bass piano accordion. I have had some lessons on basic bass button accompaniement, basic right hand chording with some inversions, and basic right hand fingerings. I am in the 2nd Palmer-Hughes book and find the tunes a good challenge but not needing the basic music theory since I play guitar. I have received some instruction on technique but finding my mechanics to be a problem, especially with position of both arms, amount of right hand wrist bend, and correct movement of bellows including where to change direction with measures.

The instructors I have had for a few lessons are tremendous players but tend to ignore the mechanical aspects of playing. Any advice or good instructional videos to buy? I am also interested in any instructional material on more folky styles since most of my learning so far has been on traditional polkas and waltzes. I would like to find some good backing patterns for folky guitar music.

My last question is whether or not there is any effective way to decrease volume while still using reed blocks with more bass. I enjoy playing with friends on guitar but find I am drowning them out even when decreasing force on the bellows. Thanks for any assitance.

Jeff


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Subject: RE: advice for beginning accordion
From: Cluin
Date: 30 Nov 02 - 09:48 PM

Play it under water.


sorry. ;)


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Subject: RE: advice for beginning accordion
From: DonMeixner
Date: 30 Nov 02 - 10:21 PM

Jeff,

Not everyone here has much appreciation for the accordion. But we do have a few who play. Carol C is one I believe. But you can save yourself a lot of abuse and agravation by taking up the Tiple instead.

:-)

Don

PS: Good luck, if the info is out there , here is where to find it.


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Subject: RE: advice for beginning accordion
From: CarolC
Date: 30 Nov 02 - 10:34 PM

Hey Jeff. Despite the inevitable jokes that you can expect to get on this thread, this is a good place for you to ask your questions. There are several people around here who play the piano accordion, and some of them even know what they're doing.

I play the piano accordion myself, but from what you've posted, it looks like you know more about accordion playing than I do. I've been playing for about two and a half years, but I've never had any lessons. I still consider myself very much a beginner.

In what part of the world are you located? Hopefully in the US. We need more accordion players in this part of the world.

(P.S. I wouldn't worry about the ones who make fun of accordions. They can't help it if they're a little slow on the uptake and hopelessly uncool. Who knows? They may even catch on some day ;-)


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Subject: RE: advice for beginning accordion
From: khandu
Date: 30 Nov 02 - 10:35 PM

Jeff,

I would recommend a more honorable and musical instrument. How about the kazoo? It is far more respectable and sounds much better than the (ugh!) accordion! It is also easier to carry!

Of course, there is Carol the sailor to consider, but she has runnoft to the Polka Circus again. Maybe you can catch her there!

;-)   :-)   ;-P   ;-)

khandu


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Subject: RE: advice for beginning accordion
From: CarolC
Date: 30 Nov 02 - 10:45 PM

khandu, there you are! I waited and waited for you on the stage of the Lawrence Welk Memorial Accordion Ballroom here at the Polka Circus. You said you were going to teach me Lady of Spain!


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Subject: RE: advice for beginning accordion
From: khandu
Date: 30 Nov 02 - 10:49 PM

I use that line on all newly-weds. That way they lose interest in me very quickly!

khandu


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Subject: RE: advice for beginning accordion
From: CarolC
Date: 30 Nov 02 - 10:57 PM

Ok then, khandu. See you at tap dancing class!


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Subject: RE: advice for beginning accordion
From: Cluin
Date: 30 Nov 02 - 11:03 PM

Definition of perfect pitch:

Tossing the accordion into the dumpster so it lands squarely on the bagpipes.


Okay. I'll stop now.

Actually I like a well-played accordion.

I'm really trying to avoid another punch line here. See? I can be good.


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Subject: RE: advice for beginning accordion
From: khandu
Date: 30 Nov 02 - 11:04 PM

And a well-played accordion is one that is played far far away!

k


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Subject: RE: advice for beginning accordion
From: Cluin
Date: 30 Nov 02 - 11:08 PM

Whay! See what happens?

Now I'm Bud Abbot.


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Subject: RE: advice for beginning accordion
From: DonMeixner
Date: 30 Nov 02 - 11:24 PM

NO! A well played accordion is played in a ............well.


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Subject: RE: advice for beginning accordion
From: CarolC
Date: 30 Nov 02 - 11:27 PM

I was looking for you, too, Mr Bud (Cluin) Abbot. Warren the accordion repair guy asked me to tell you that that custom rhinestone job you had him do on your big accordion (the red and gold glittery one) is finished and he'w waithing for you to go pick it up. I think he got your name wrong though. When I was in his showroom yesterday, I saw a big, glittery, red and gold piano accordion, with someone's name in rhinestones. At first I thought it said "Cluin", but when I looked more closely, I saw that it said "Clown". Bummer, eh?


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Subject: RE: advice for beginning accordion
From: Cluin
Date: 30 Nov 02 - 11:33 PM

Yeah. What a waste of rhinestones.


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Subject: RE: advice for beginning accordion
From: CarolC
Date: 30 Nov 02 - 11:39 PM

Don't feel too bad, Bud. You can always get Warren to remove them for you. I bet they'd make a really nice tiara ;-)


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Subject: RE: advice for beginning accordion
From: Cluin
Date: 30 Nov 02 - 11:48 PM

You misunderstand me. I meant that Warren could have jammed the reeds with them.

Okay. No more. The guy asked a serious question and deserves some real advice from somebody who actually know something about the things.

Bye.


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Subject: RE: advice for beginning accordion
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 30 Nov 02 - 11:52 PM

The acordian...more so...than the piano....and less so... than a pipe oragan...is a full breathing insturment...so VERY MUCH like the human voice.

Play is soft and hear the nuances...play it loud and hear the scream...unfortunately, like metal-music...loud is all any-one hears....

The reeds are beautiful, soft and deep....but I have promises, and miles to go before I sleep.

Sincerely,
Gargoyle

>Don't give up the accordian..no matter what day-job they give your....mama.


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Subject: RE: advice for beginning accordion
From: wysiwyg
Date: 30 Nov 02 - 11:58 PM

More fun, less technique, and more playing with others. Develop a feel for the SONG... let the technique come with time. Find people who want to play as loud as you play, and just GO for it, for now.

~Susan


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Subject: RE: advice for beginning accordion
From: selby
Date: 01 Dec 02 - 03:49 AM

to calm the volume down on the bass hand stick gaffer tape over the holes on the inside of the end plate.
Keith


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Subject: RE: advice for beginning accordion
From: Boab
Date: 01 Dec 02 - 04:33 AM

You want to have lessons, go ahead, and good luck Jeff. Me, I'd suggest not too much worry about what the instructors get you playing, just make sure you learn the "fingering". Get that, and a good accordion, and you will confound all your critics--all those with any ear for music at least. And playing the BELLOWS is just as essential as bass or keyboard. In a group session, or as part of a band, you may find that the bass provided either by either the guitars or a bass player gives you the option of playing keyboard only. This is practised by many group players. And a well played "single voice" melody can outshine fiddle or whistle, particularly on slow airs. As is the case with ANY instrument, playing it at its best doesn't mean trying to be the loudest on stage. Group music is, much more than any other shared art, a co-operative pastime.Forget that,and you might as well not try it!
Long-winded stuff from Boab---who never did learn the proper fingering---and now realises the gap in his talents----


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Subject: RE: advice for beginning accordion
From: brid widder
Date: 01 Dec 02 - 05:28 AM

I'm trying... I know very trying..., I'm trying to learn on a 48 (might as well be just 8) bass.....I realise playing the accordian well is hard... I find it easy mostly cos I'm crap!!

The main bit of advice I would give is to be careful if teachers make you hold it in the 'correct'position... I had one that did that... shortened all the straps and told me where my elbow should be etc... I ended up with tenosinovitis... very painful. I changed teacher, lengthened straps... made sure it was always comfortable ( I only play sitting down)and stop practice if it hurts!!! now I have no trouble... well not with the wrist anyway... but it still sounds pretty bad!!


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Subject: RE: advice for beginning accordion
From: Peter T.
Date: 01 Dec 02 - 10:30 AM

breathe the accordion with the music just as you would sing -- the only rule is, don't "break back" the bellows (go in or out suddenly) in the middle of a phrase. (I have an expert friend who has just sold me his accordion upon leaving the country (not because of his accordion playing) and given me a lesson or two, and this was his advice). He also said that the tendency early on is to keep tight in as you are trying to get the fingering correct on the basses, going in and out with each change of chords: you need to consciously lengthen out the bellows through the chord changes.

I would also like some folk instruction -- or, dare I say it, musette music -- as everything my friend dumped on me is polkas and waltzes. Nice, but.....

yours, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: advice for beginning accordion
From: EBarnacle1
Date: 01 Dec 02 - 11:00 AM

The accordion is the revenge of the concertina. Not all free reed instruments can be readily drowned out. Play loud and play proud--and be prepared to play alone.


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Subject: RE: advice for beginning accordion
From: GUEST,coinwolf
Date: 01 Dec 02 - 11:20 AM

Any hints on how to sing, while playing an accordion?

Breathing in and out with the accordion is all very well, but how do you sing at the same time?

Best after you have had a few,

you then have an excuse for it!


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Subject: RE: advice for beginning accordion
From: Peter T.
Date: 01 Dec 02 - 11:51 AM

From my two days experience with one of these beasts, it seems to me that the best way to sing if you are not very good is to use the bass chords only, and forget about the piano notes. Once you get better, I would assume that you can use the piano keys to chord as well. Generally, I would assume that it is like accompanying a singer with a piano -- don't play the straight melody, go for chords or simple patterns unless the singer doesn't know the tune, and go for grace notes in the silences between phrases, otherwise stay well back.

But what do I know.

yours, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: advice for beginning accordion
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 01 Dec 02 - 11:58 AM

Peter, you are now officially DANGEROUS!

My suggestion is hunt down some recordings of folks who use the accordion as ACCOMPANIMENT. Simple accompaniment at first...how bout Sis Cunningham from the Almanac Singers?

The style (if it can be called that) that I used to accompany myself on piano can work well. It's actually "backwards" from the way most folks would learn a keyboard instrument. Just involves a Bass-chord approach.

Rick


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Subject: RE: advice for beginning accordion
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 01 Dec 02 - 12:27 PM

This is good time of year to "throw away the books" for a few weeks.

The accordian is a grand instrument to "play by ear."

Start with a simple Christmas tune...beginning on C...spend a couple hours and get one melody down KEYBOARD side ONLY....say, "Silent Night" or "Away in a Manager."

NOW - slowly add the bass-buttons....its simple....because you only need to "feel the chord change." You will begin with the C button chord, and then it will always be either the F, or G, or C ....from then on...ending on C.

OK now you have one Christmas song...do the same with another tune...this time is will be easier. Do it a with a third tune....and now you are ready to go out caroling.

HAVE FUN....It is IMPORTANT that you start early to wheen yourself away from written music....You arn't planning on going into competition....

Have a blessed holiday season.

Sincerely,
Gargoyle


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Subject: RE: advice for beginning accordion
From: Bernard
Date: 01 Dec 02 - 01:21 PM

Mmmm...

Another good 'rule' is not to change bellows direction with any keys held down.

I play and sing at the same time...

Changing bellows direction depends on a lot of things...

If the bellows are leaky (not a lot of resistance when no keys are pressed), you will have to change direction more often - best to get the thing fixed!

If you are playing quietly, you will not need to change direction as often as when playing loudly - it's better to practice quietly, but this can be a problem when you have to play loudly!

The number of keys being pressed (and the number of reeds in use if the instrument has register stops) directly affects the bellows movement.


The easiest way to get the feel of things is to play waltzes - time it thus, just playing the bass (1 = 'fundamental', 2 and 3 are the chord):

>> 1 - 2 - 3   1 - 2 - 3 (change)

<< 1 - 2 - 3   1 - 2 - 3 (change)

etc.


When you improve, try:

>> 1 - 2 - 3   1 - 2 - 3   1 - 2 - 3   1 - 2 - 3 (change)

<< 1 - 2 - 3   1 - 2 - 3   1 - 2 - 3   1 - 2 - 3 (change)

etc.


Then try a tune - Amazing Grace, Plaisir d'Amour, Michael Turner's Waltz, and so on, usuing the same rules.

I'm fortunate - my big Swiss Hohner 120 bass Musette is really airtight, and practically plays itself... it's just so flamin' heavy!!


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Subject: RE: advice for beginning accordion
From: Bernard
Date: 01 Dec 02 - 01:41 PM

You can hear me play here...


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Subject: RE: advice for beginning accordion
From: CarolC
Date: 01 Dec 02 - 01:48 PM

Hey Bernard! I love that piece. About a year ago I tried to learn it by listening to that sound sample on your site. But I couldn't figure out the chords. Then I found the dots for it somewhere on-line, but the sheet music didn't have the chords. Would you be willing to give me the chords that you use?


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Subject: RE: advice for beginning accordion
From: greg stephens
Date: 01 Dec 02 - 05:22 PM

The ideal instrument for the campfire.


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Subject: RE: advice for beginning accordion
From: vectis
Date: 01 Dec 02 - 05:34 PM

Nice Bernard. I play the same tune on a Sonola musette but as a waltz instead of a lament.


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Subject: RE: advice for beginning accordion
From: Bernard
Date: 01 Dec 02 - 08:26 PM

Thanks, vectis! I have a recording of Iain McLachlan playing it, and he does it both ways (if you'll pardon the expression!). As he wrote it, he's entitled, I suppose!!

Greg - you try putting my box on a campfire, and I'll have yer guts for garters!! ;o>

I play it in the key of A major, Carol, and the chords work out (ignoring where I played a G chord by mistake on the recording, but it sounded clever, so I left it in!), starting at the accompanied bit:

A / /|A / /|D / /|A / /|

A / /|A / /|A / /|E / /|

F#m / /|C#m / /|D / /|E / /|

A / /|E / /|A / D|A / /|


If the above doesn't make sense, the chord name or forward slash each count as one beat, in 3/4 time (3 beats per bar). Well I understand it!!


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Subject: RE: advice for beginning accordion
From: Bernard
Date: 01 Dec 02 - 08:38 PM

WOOPS!! Got me minors mixed up!! Sorree!!

A / /|A / /|D / /|A / /|

A / /|A / /|A / /|E / /|

Bm / /|F#m / /|D / /|E / /|

A / /|E / /|A / D|A / /|

That'll learn me to check before I post!!
(Lancashire expression...!)


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Subject: RE: advice for beginning accordion
From: CarolC
Date: 01 Dec 02 - 08:55 PM

Thanks Bernard!!!


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Subject: RE: advice for beginning accordion
From: Bernard
Date: 01 Dec 02 - 08:56 PM

Just a thought - one way I control the volume on the bass of my box is to play staccato (as if the keys are so hot I can't hold them down) if I want to quieten it, and hold them down longer if I need more volume. As I play mostly for Morris (he's a nice chap, y'know!), it's important that it doesn't sound 'mushy'.

Quite often smaller accordions are bass-heavy, which is odd when you consider they are intended for beginners!

My big box has five reeds per single note in the bass, with couplers allowing the deep bass to be de-selected, or all but the two highest to be de-selected. Very handy!


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Subject: RE: advice for beginning accordion
From: Boab
Date: 02 Dec 02 - 03:00 AM

I actually picked up an accordion with the intention of singing with it. Now I hold the tune better if I AM singing with it! Being an "ear" player right from the start, it made for some rather unusual effects, though---I think it was John Kirkpatrick who christened me "the f-sharp man"! It just happened to be the key which was comfortable with my voice. As the years passed I had to branch out a bit, though, in order to accomodate others.


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Subject: RE: advice for beginning accordion
From: Dave Bryant
Date: 02 Dec 02 - 07:06 AM

One bit of advice - make sure your life insurance is up to date !

Any night at Orpington Folk Club you can hear the duelling Accordions of Ivan North and Ted Handley. They definitely sod up the argument that that we're trying to put over in the anti-PEL campaign, that accoustic music is quiet and doesn't cause a public nuisance.


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Subject: RE: advice for beginning accordion
From: GUEST,noddy
Date: 02 Dec 02 - 07:11 AM

DONT


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Subject: RE: advice for beginning accordion
From: GUEST,Sam Pirt
Date: 05 Dec 02 - 06:09 AM

Hi All

Well with so much advice theres not much more to add, would I would say is when playing, practicing or performing think LIGHT and ACCURATE. It will take time to get it accurate but thats why you practice, and if you play accurately you will play well and also the notes you want to play.

After a while it will feel natural then you can start to experiment with the rhythms, tempo and chords of each hand, then it gets VERY exciting!!!

Cheers, Sam


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Subject: RE: advice for beginning accordion
From: Peter T.
Date: 05 Dec 02 - 08:48 AM

Whatever Sam says, do!!! yours, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: advice for beginning accordion
From: Bernard
Date: 05 Dec 02 - 05:07 PM

Aahh... what does he know? He's a mere lad...!!

Somebody hold him down whilst I stamp all over his fingers... ;o>


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Subject: RE: advice for beginning accordion
From: vectis
Date: 05 Dec 02 - 08:22 PM

Learn to play without actually moving the bellows. It makes you a more popular player. I know......
I play accordion (ducking and running like Hell from the Stanley knives)


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Subject: RE: advice for beginning accordion
From: Mark Clark
Date: 05 Dec 02 - 08:49 PM

I used to think I didn't like accordions … that is until I heard (and saw) Nathan Abshire playing with the Balfa Brothers. Boy did I become an accordian fan. There just wasn't any happier music than that.

My advice is trade your piano accordion in for a French (German, actually) accordian like the one Nathan played and get yourself down to Louisiana post haste.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: advice for beginning accordion
From: Mark Clark
Date: 05 Dec 02 - 09:49 PM

This Hohner Ariette 3002 looks like an approximation of the one Nathan Abshire played. Hohner says it's tuned to C, I know Nathan played in more keys than one—probably using the stops—and I was thinking his had more than two bass bars but it's been a long time and I really don't know anything at all about accordions.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: advice for beginning accordion
From: GUEST,SHIFTER
Date: 06 Dec 02 - 10:18 AM

...DON'T BLOODYWELL BOTHER, THEY'RE TOO DAMNED NOISY AND DROWN OUT ALL THE OTHER MUSICIANS!!!


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Subject: RE: advice for beginning accordion
From: Declan
Date: 06 Dec 02 - 10:42 AM

If you didn't already have an instrument, my first piece of advice would be to get a smaller box. Its difficult not to drown out everyone else with a 120 Bass. They are inherently loud, but the more subtle players can get away with it.

Some people worth listening to, if your interested in Irish or celtic music are Phil Cunningham, Karen Tweed, Seamus Mehan (I don't know that he's widely recorded but look for The Temple House Ceili Band). I've heard Mr Pirt who has posted above a few times playing with his band 422 and he's definitely another one for this list.

Try to keep your touch as light as possible and use the bass sparingly. When I was in an accordion band we were thought to use the bass to bang out the rhythm oom-pah-pah style and I think that sounds pretty awful now.

I own a 72 Bass Paolo Soprani myself, although I haven't played it for years.


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Subject: RE: advice for beginning accordion
From: banjoman
Date: 07 Dec 02 - 07:18 AM

DON'T - Whats the difference between a an accordion player and a pieceof cardboard used to block up a broken window?

The cardboard is a substitite - the accordion player is a real pa(i)ne(e)


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Subject: RE: advice for beginning accordion
From: CarolC
Date: 07 Dec 02 - 12:21 PM

I was hoping I wouldn't feel compelled to do this, but I guess I do. I know you jokers think you're being funny, but Mudcat etiquette dictates that it is bad form to post silliness on a serious music thread. Although some of you don't think accordions are serious music, the fact is that they are. And believe it or not, these jokes are not new to us. We've heard them all many times before.

This is a serious music thread, so please take the jokes elsewhere.


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Subject: RE: advice for beginning accordion
From: GUEST,J Shand jnr
Date: 07 Dec 02 - 02:03 PM

Come on CarolC surely we can all take a joke. Unfortunately most of the jokes in this thread are old and whiskery and have been applied to most instruments we play. Good luck to Jeff - learning any instrument is not as easy as people pretend.


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