Accordion/Getting Ready to Play Your First Song

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Picking Up The Accordion[edit | edit source]

You may lift the accordion by the straps, but do not carry the accordion by the straps. If the strap breaks, your accordion will fall. Falling on the ground will damage the fragile mechanisms inside. You put it on like a reverse backpack. The treble keyboard (the one that looks like a piano) will be played with your right hand. The bass keyboard (the one with rows of buttons) will be played with your left hand's second through fifth fingers (using piano fingering's approach, the thumb is considered the "first finger").

A Word About Notes[edit | edit source]

An octave goes from a C note to the next C note and contains 8 notes in the C Major scale: C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C (the "white notes"). Since you only have five fingers, you will only be able to play five notes without moving your hand. (Don't worry, our first lesson won't require you to do that.) If you happen to have more than five fingers, congratulations! Many great musicians have made use of their extra digits to play pieces that would be difficult or even impossible for those with only five.

Fingering[edit | edit source]

For the time being, each finger on your hand will strike one and only one key in a given song. Later in the course, you will learn how to smoothly move your hands across the keys to play a greater range of notes. As well, later on, you will press two, three, four, and even five notes at once to form chords.

To help you play these early songs accurately, each note in the song will be numbered. Starting with your right hand, count from your thumb to your pinkie. Your thumb will be "1", and your pinkie will be "5". Any "1" note will be played by your thumb, and "5" note by your pinkie, and any "3" note by your middle finger.

We'll do the same thing on your left hand. Your thumb will be a "1" and your pinkie will be a "5".

Note: More advanced musicians do not refer to notes this way. Starting from the "1" note, the notes would be C, D, E, F, and G. After you get more practice, we'll phase out the use of this numbering system. Our main concern right now is to get your fingers moving and making music!

Look on the treble keyboard (right hand) for the first grouping of two black keys. Place your thumb on the white key to the left of the first black key. The remaining fingers should be placed on the adjacent white keys.

Look on the bass keyboard (left hand). You want to place your "4" finger on C. (Some people prefer to use "3".) The C key will have a jewel, bump, or indentation on it so you can feel it, instead of looking for it. If you have a large accordion, you may have a few keys like this. The one in the middle is usually C. Don't feel daunted by the number of keys on the bass keyboard! Most songs we will be playing will only use a few that will be easy to reach. Many popular songs for beginners only use three or four bass notes.