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If you have a button accordion, or even a piano accordion, you still need to know how to play accordion bass buttons.

There are going to be based buttons no matter the design you have and being able to play them the right way will go a long way toward helping you read music correctly and produce the sounds you want.

To help you with that we have put together this guide that explains not only how to play these buttons, but the best ways to learn your accordion.

How to play the accordion

If you have a button accordion, the right-hand will play the buttons that correspond to the treble notes.

If you have a piano accordion, the right hand will still play the corresponding treble notes but they will be piano keys instead of buttons.

But regardless of which model you have the left side will always play the bass buttons and the bass and will always be just that: buttons. 

The left hand is what plays the accordion bass buttons. It also plays any preset chords you might have.

If you look at the left side the fingers are usually numbered so that gives you a point of reference for your bass board.

The left hand is also going to change switches and be in charge of the air button.

Your left wrist sits inside of the bass strap and your left arm is what you use to push or pull the Bellows while you are also playing the bass buttons. 

Seating position

When you are playing the bass buttons, or any other buttons, you can choose to sit or stand.

Most people sit because it is more comfortable, especially for a larger or heavier piano accordion.

If you decide to sit or stand but especially stand, it’s good to have multiple shoulder straps and a back strap so that you can evenly distribute the weight of your instrument.

  • You also need to keep a straight back the entire time. Having these back straps can help that.
  • You need to sit in a comfortable seat if you are going to perform while sitting such that your feet can rest on the ground so that you have full control over your instrument.
  • You need to keep your right elbow curved outward so that your right hand can maintain a good position.
  • Finally, you need to keep your fingers curved over your bass buttons, taking on the shape of a claw so that you are using just your fingertips when you press the accordion bass buttons.

Teaching yourself

Teaching yourself is always an option with any instrument.

When you teach yourself you can learn by ear where you simply press different buttons and figure out what sound they make, but if you are going to read music ever, you might also have to learn how to read music and then connect that to the corresponding buttons on your accordion.

Online resources will go a long way toward helping you learn how to play the accordion and memorizing your buttons.

Music teachers

One of the fastest ways to learn is to practice yourself but to also meet with the music teacher.

A music teacher that can meet with you in person will make a significant difference in how quickly you are able to memorize these buttons and learn how to read music and play your instrument.

You can sign up for large music classes where you are part of a group and you receive the same instruction as everyone else in that group, usually meeting once a week.

The one downside to being in a group setting is that you do not get as much individualized attention.

For this reason, you might make a mistake in your posture, in your technique, or in your memorization of the buttons and your teacher may not catch it for a while because they are so busy making the rounds to every other student in the class.

If this goes on long enough, you might commit a mistake to muscle memory and then have a much harder time fixing it later.

Individual lessons if feasible are the best route to take because a good teacher will be able to dedicate themselves entirely to you and your learning experience, and they will watch your Technique the entire time you are working with them, they will see where you struggle most and dedicate more of your lesson to fixing that particular problem.

If one hand is really easy for you to memorize and play and you have no problems, they will just move right along to the opposite hand and try to work on whatever hindrances you might have.

Choosing a music teacher or individual tutor can be difficult because they might be a perfectly well qualified person and just not have a personality that works with you.

Don’t be afraid to do a trial lesson. Good teachers will give you a trial lesson, hopefully for free, where you can see if it’s a good fit.

Online tutorials

With online tutorials you have a wide array of different learning styles out there.

Not every learning style works for every single musician which is why having so much variability can be beneficial for you.

On the other hand, you will likely have to go through some trial and error which takes a bit of perseverance and motivation before you find the method of teaching that works best for you.

In the world of online tutorials that will teach you how to play the button accordion you can find websites that give you direct connection to virtual teachers where you get in front of your webcam at a pre-arranged date and time and the teacher does the same and then you go through your lessons virtually.

You can also find pre-recorded online lessons. In the world of pre-recorded lessons these can be free or paid for.

Usually the free lessons tend to cover one specific area, genre, instruments, or level of skill.

You might have somebody who recorded a range of free introductory videos or provided introductory articles with pictures that correspond to the lessons being taught.

Some people can read a piece of text and see a corresponding picture and follow along with their button accordion just fine and others prefer to have a video attached.

The videos that you get range from things that have only the sounds of the instrument and quick Snippets of the instrument being played.

It might be zoomed in on the left hand playing the bass buttons with text that pops up on the screen pointing to specific buttons or specific ways that you hold your hand.

The more complex videos will be actual lessons recorded by a teacher who walks you through different processes and talks to the camera the same as if they were talking to you.

Virtual teachers

There are websites where you can find a list of virtual teachers who have developed online courses for every single type of accordion.

If, for example, you have a button accordion that is the Irish style Anglo concertina, you can find a specific online course where you sign up on a monthly basis or an annual basis and get virtual lessons.

If you have other types of button accordions and you want to focus on learning to play the instrument or learning to play a specific type of music, you can find teachers to meet with you in person or via Skype.

There are some teachers that will meet with you if you’re close enough to where they live or we’ll meet with you online individually.

There are plenty of music schools in major cities that offer group classes on button accordions during the school year on the weekends and you can take these classes online or in person. 

Pre-recorded

There are free online tutorials that will instruct you.

With many of these button accordion instructions you do have an accordion tutor but rather than working together individually you get video and audio files that combine things like text, music notation, and photos to help you learn the process as easily as possible.

With these button accordion tutorials you can find levels of information for absolute beginners who have never even picked up an accordion all the way through advanced players.

Usually they are divided by level of skill. 

  • In the beginner section you might watch videos where the tutor demonstrates the different parts of the button accordion and uses slow, easy music that you can learn right alongside them. The individual parts might be demonstrated, and you might practice different techniques, learn the notes and scales, and get introductions to reading music.
  • In the advanced section you might get more highly ornamented music Styles and learn different Tunes like polkas, reels, Jigs, and other specific music for specific genres. This might cover minor Keys, octave triplets, chromatic triplets and single note triplets. 

How to play accordion bass buttons

Now you know how to play accordion bass buttons, how to properly hold yourself when sitting or standing and playing your accordion, and which types of lessons are going to give you the biggest advantage.

It really comes down to personal preference when choosing the type of teacher you want, or whether to invest in digital or virtual teaching.

But once you have the basic understanding of your seating position and the left-hand corresponding to the different face buttons, and you have memorized them, you will be well on your way to being able to play whatever music you want with your accordion. 

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