Is the Button Accordion Hard to Learn? 


I decided to write this blog post in the hope that I myself would be able to answer the question. It is something that I get asked commonly, usually by a listener at a session or a concert and they have that nagging question in the back of their minds, “Should I learn the accordion? Do I have the time? Am I too young/old?” All these fears and doubts culminate in asking a professional/semi-professional accordion player “Is the button accordion hard to learn?” 


Hard to Learn? It doesn’t have to be

My answer is generally, “no”. It’s not. Go ahead and do it”. It’s worthwhile to point out that musicians of other instruments often make fun of accordion players. “All you have to do is press a few buttons”. I always laugh and smile through gritted teeth at this banter. Having thought about this however, it is partly true. To maintain a strong melody hand, 50 to 70% of the process of accordion playing is pressing buttons (I apportion the other 50 to 30% to bellows control and bass notes). When you delve deeper into the question “is the button accordion hard to learn?”, this is where levels of interpretation differ.  

Attainable, the accordion doesn’t have to be hard to learn

It is very attainable for anyone to become competent at accordion playing. I stress anyone. Therefore my understanding of competent is anyone who has wide a breadth of style of traditional tune. Effectively can join a session and play appropriately with the atmosphere and tone of the session. Competent players can maintain rhythm without increasing the tempo or pausing to play an upcoming bar of a tune. This is an aim for a lot of people as traditional music is a hugely social experience and is a place to make life long friends. I get messages all the time, “I would just love to sit down and play a few tunes”. This is achievable for anyone willing to put the time in. 

Making that decision……

However if your motivations are higher than competent, I believe this is where it can become difficult for some musicians. Moving higher than a competent level is really about solo performance. Acquiring the skill to play in front of an audience and holding their attention is very difficult in any artistic discipline. It involves the ability to convey your personality through your craft. Attention to detail must be very high. Therefore accordion playing it is the ability to include subtle variations, tasteful ornamentation, using other melody instruments as an influence and a whole host of other characteristics that take time to acquire.  

Is the button accordion hard to learn?

That depends on what you want out of it. I would like to think that will grant the wishes of any hopeful accordion player and assist them in reaching their motivations and levels of performance.   


If you want an example a relaxed playing, and making the accordion look easy:


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