I remember one time my friends Jeremy and Chris were arguing about which is harder to learn how to play, the piano or the guitar. The argument basically went like this:
- The piano is easier, because someone with no knowledge whatsoever of the piano can sit down and pick out a tune. You can’t do that on guitar.
- The guitar is easier, because after you learn a few basic chords, you can play the vast majority of most songs.
Now that I am making some meager attempt to learn the accordion, I have discovered that they were both right! They are two totally different instruments, that both have their own advantages as far as ease of learning go. Keep in mind that I am less than a beginner when it comes to the accordion, so take my opinions with a grain of salt!
- Usually with guitar, you only play the rhythm part. You might learn a couple of little tidbits of picking here or there, particularly intros to songs, but during the song you usually only play the part that is sort of background, and then sing the melody. On accordion, you have to play both, simultaneously.
- For guitar, any song you can ever think of is available online, for free. I assumed it would be the same for the accordion. Not so! It is very, very difficult to find free music for songs. Usually you have to purchase a book containing sheet music. The other downside to this is that I usually check out 2 or 3 guitar versions of a song and pick and choose what I like about each (there are always many different ways to play any song). I don’t think I will be getting 2 or 3 versions of a song if I have to pay for each one.
- Guitar has a special, condensed way of designating how to play, called tab (or tablature) which is very easy to learn. For the accordion, you more or less have to learn to read sheet music. I haven’t looked at sheet music since 4th grade band. I am literally starting at square 1.
- On a guitar, you have two actions to perform: playing the chords with one hand, and strumming with the other hand. On the accordion, you also have to play with two hands, but in addition you need to work the bellows. 2 is easier than 3.
- Like my friend said, with the piano you can sit down and pick out a song. The first time I picked up the accordion, I could play *something* (even if it was Three Blind Mice). There’s no way you could sit down and figure out a tune on guitar.
- With the accordion, there are no hurt fingers! To really practice the guitar, you have to expect painful finger tips until you build up your callouses. If you play infrequently, like I do, your callouses go away, and your playing time is usually limited by how much pain you can handle in your fingers. It seems kind of crazy when I say it like that, but it’s true.
- On the accordion, there are no sour notes. Nobody will believe me on this, but it’s true! The only sounds you can make are coming through tuned reeds. When you hit the G-chord button, you get a G-chord. On the guitar, you get rattling strings, badly formed chords, misplaced fingers. All sorts of hazards.
- Any piano training is useful. I didn’t happen to have any, but if you already know how to play the piano, you could probably just start playing an accordion. I suppose there are other stringed instruments that you could know which would translate over into guitar, but the knowledge of these instruments is a lot less common than knowledge of piano.