Accordion vs. Guitar

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!

Advantage Guitar

  • 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.

Advantage Accordion

  • 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.
Overall, in my limited experience so far, I believe the accordion is easier to learn how to play than the guitar, even including the extra stuff I have to learn, like how to read sheet music. But maybe I’ll change my mind as time goes along.

Christmas Extravaganza

We went to church on Christmas Eve, and Evie was really excited. However, we’re still struggling to find a Christmas service that both starts at a reasonable time, and is around an hour or so long. They tend to draaaaag. I understand, you want to get your big choir in, and read all the best readings, and have a Christmas play, etc., but it is very, very stressful to try to keep Evie entertained and quiet while all of this is going on. Especially when you factor in that you have to get there 30 minutes early if you want a seat.

There were still some good moments though, like Evie playing peekaboo with the president of the Cook County board, who sat right behind us. The big thing for Evie was singing Christmas music. Of course, she likes the more commercialized songs and the church ones tend toward the religious. She asked me if we were going to sing Deck the Halls and I was like, “I don’t think so honey.” She likes Hark the Herald Angel Sings, so I thought we might have a better chance with that. However, when we looked in the program, sure enough, Deck the Halls was on there! Who would have thought?

Of course, once we opened the door to Deck the Halls, as far as Evie was concerned, everything was fair game:

Evie: “Are we going to sing Santa Baby?”

Of course, Deck the Halls was at the end of the service and Evie didn’t quite make it. It was a big relief to me when she fell asleep, since I didn’t have to threaten her anymore, but I knew she would be disappointed that she missed it. The first question she asked when she woke up was, “Was it beautiful?” Then she made us all sing it when we got home in reenactment.

As far as the presents go, there were so many under the tree that the meager additions from Santa sort of went unnoticed. The presents I was most excited about were the balance bike, the sizable donations to college funds, the “my first bacon” from Uncle Nathan, and the beautiful, amazing doll house that Sara and Anna had when they were little (which Evie adores).

The bacon, in particular, has caused quite a stir. I can’t tell you how many times someone has said, “I’m bacon!” in the past few days. It was a present for Oliver, but Evie is the one who keeps playing with it.

Evie: “Mommy, shh! Bacon is sleeping!”

However, there were two presents that really take the cake.

Well, the first wasn’t technically even a present. For months now, Evie has insisted that the only thing she wanted for Christmas was a new bed upstairs where everyone else sleeps. Her bedroom is downstairs, by itself, and she’s terrified. It makes me feel pretty bad. So naturally she wants to sleep upstairs where everybody else is, and who could blame her? So, since Santa gave her a bed last year, she figured he’d be good for another one this year.

So my mom had a trundle bed she was willing to give up, so we got that to put into Oliver’s bedroom upstairs. We tried to make it very clear that it was not a Christmas present. It’s Oliver’s big boy bed in Oliver’s room, that he doesn’t mind sharing with her while he’s not using it. Her bed, and bedroom, remain downstairs.

For my part, the grand prize was my new accordion. I have really been wanting to learn how to play the accordion for some time now. I don’t know the first thing about it, but you know what they say: the first step is buying the accordion!

Something tells me you might hear a thing or two about the accordion on the blog in the future…