It’s been awhile since I’ve talked about my accordion on the blog. That’s mostly because there hasn’t been much to report.
Periodically, I would get it out and noodle around on it, but not very often and increasingly less and less. Usually it was far enough between times that I was mostly just struggling to maintain what I knew, not really improving. It was obvious that what I needed was practice time, but learning anything (particularly an instrument) is an exercise in frustration and futility, and requires a lot of persistence.
Last Halloween, a friend introduced me to a neighbor who was also learning to play accordion. It seemed a shame that two accordion players would live so close together and not meet up. Through a series of mishaps, it took some time to actually make it happen, but eventually we did meet up a few times to play.
This was the motivation I needed.
As I suspected, what I really needed was practice time. Actually playing the accordion in front of someone else was very motivational to not suck. And even now, when we’re not meeting anymore, I’ve still managed to practice a good 20 minutes a day, 3 days a week. And it’s amazing how much of a difference that makes!
There’s really only one accordion book, the Palmer Hughes Accordion Course. I’ve had this book since day one, but I never got into it. The whole thing seems so cheesy, with stupid, childlike illustrations accompanying stupid, childlike songs. It’s sort of a shame, though, because now that I’m really going through it, it’s actually a really good course!
I think part of it, though, was hearing the songs played by someone who could actually play them properly made them seem less silly. Listening to him play, I was like, “Hey, that actually sounds like a real song.!”
Each song in the book adds an additional skill, and the difficulty increases pretty quickly. As soon as you master one song, the next one piles another level of difficulty on top. I’m not ashamed to admit that it took me awhile to get “Mary had a little lamb” since they used a jazzed-up version to work on your two hands doing two different things at the same time. So even though the song is simple, the concepts weren’t! It seems like each new song make me go, “Oh man, I can’t do that *at all*.”
Nothing is more motivational than actually seeing progress. I know playing the first 3 or 4 songs in an introductory book is nothing to brag about, but it’s a long shot better than nothing and getting easier all the time!