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How Hard Is It to Learn the Accordion?

Discussing musical instruments such as the accordion is captivating.

We all have different views, and there are a lot of assumptions going around. While some are close to the truth, most of them are misleading.

Therefore, as a beginner, if you are not careful, you can give up on your dream, because of some things you heard, which might not be accurate.

One of the most confusing questions I usually encounter is, “how hard is it to learn accordion?” In this case, most people’s opinions are based on their experiences or what they might have heard.

However, in this article, we give you facts based on our comprehensive research results. Let’s exploit this hot topic once and for all.

Should I Learn Accordion?

Before you even seek to find out how difficult it might be to learn the accordion, you must be sure whether you want to play it.

In fact, this should be the first step. And the answer you give will determine whether you move to the next stage or not.

Like every other instrument, learning this instrument requires practice, dedication, and patience.

So, you should ask yourself if you’ve all it takes to master it within a given time frame. For example, if you’re working, will you have time to practice? And if yes, how many hours a week?

Also, are you patient enough to withstand the challenges that come with it? Or will you give up at the slightest mistake?

If you’re the kind of individual who can’t take a single correction, then consider working on your attitude before enrolling in classes or beginning to learn.

And most importantly, do you enjoy seeing other performers play it? Do you have some musical inspirations? Remember, the more interest you show, the higher possibility of wanting to learn.

I am trying to say that, so long as you’re genuinely inspired, nothing can stop you from becoming what you want.

Plus, as you ask yourself all these questions, remember to consider the price of a decent accordion (used or new). Is it within your budget?

If not, how do you plan to go about it? Is renting one a valid option for you?

Honestly, I can’t accurately answer all these questions for you. After all, you know yourself better than anyone.

Do you have the necessary skills? I will speak more about this in the section below.

But one thing I can tell you for sure is that, if you have the will to learn the accordion, you can do it.  It doesn’t matter how many challenges you come across. Your zeal will help you overcome them all.

So, go for it!

How Hard Is It to Learn Accordion?

Learning the accordion requires a lot of skills. And how faster or slow you master them will determine whether you find the learning process easy or hard.

It also depends on the kind of instrument you wish to learn. For example, there are two significant types of accordion: the piano accordion and the button accordion.

So, if I say that the question is easy and straightforward to answer, then I will be lying.

The Piano accordion or the keyboard accordion, as popularly referred to, is usually considered as the easiest to learn as compared to the button instrument. But it also presents its set of challenges.

Nothing is all smooth and rosy. However, learning the following skills will help you pull through, with less difficulty:

a) Muscle Memory and Coordination

First, you will have to consider the bellows. Any accordion master will tell you that it’s the bellows that shape every single note that you get to listen to.

Their functionality is actually similar to those of the bow in the violin, only that the bellows are the most difficult to master between the two.

Therefore, you will have to learn how to get sufficient airflow to both sides of the instrument, and that’s the right hand and the left hand.

Not forgetting each side comes with their specific requirements.

But then, once you get the idea, you will realize that the coordination and muscle memory skills you need to press through the keys and the buttons aren’t that difficult to achieve.

And even if you have played piano before, and consider yourself successful, don’t be surprised if you find yourself having some difficulties with the accordion.

You see, you might be great and all with coordination, but you’re likely to struggle with breathing that much-needed life into your accordion’s bellows.

However, if you have played any string instrument before, then you will find it easy with the bellows.

That could be the reason why most string instruments’ players who try out the accordion, turn out to be excellent at it.

b) Understanding the Serradella System (Diatonic Accordion)

When your accordion has a button system, it isn’t easy to get your head around it.

You see, these types of accordions are generally labeled in rows. So, they start with the crucial bass row, which is usually the first note of the keys you want to play.

Therefore, you need to figure out how to shorten the up and down movements, within the rows to determine the kind of key you play.

Therefore, you will have to master the aspect of “jumping” multiple rows (up or down) as you try to play the correct chord within the selected key.

And because of the complexity that comes with it, you will need a lot of practicing before you can achieve a decent tune. And that includes the ability to land on the right line with ease.

Otherwise, if you miss it out, you will end up playing two different keys at the exact instant, and you won’t like the results.

With the accordion, it isn’t possible to see the C Major Key as you play. Therefore, once you figure out its actual position, your task has just begun.

You will have to find the actual position of the other keys. And this includes the middle C.

And that’s not all. You should also master all the rows from left to right.

Yes, I know this sounds much complicated right now.

However, this information isn’t meant to scare you, but to equip you with the necessary information. You should take up this instrument, knowing what you’re getting yourself into, precisely.

Most beginners will tell you, everything falls typically into place and comes out naturally after some time.  But, with practice and, of course, the music theory classes will come in handy.

c) Self-Discipline

In the layman language, I loosely translate this to practicing. And I simply can’t insist on this enough.

While most individuals don’t consider practicing as a skill, most individuals who have tried playing the accordion will tell you that constant repetition, especially in the beginning, can be monotonous.

And it takes a given percentage of self-discipline to keep going at it, even when your body is telling you otherwise.

Therefore, you have to make up your mind to adhere to those practicing sessions diligently. And the best motivation you can have is setting both short-term and long-term goals.

That way, each time you want to stop, you will want to keep pushing.

For example, according to most experts, it’s better to play even 30 minutes, six days a week, than 2-3 times a week. Your hands and brain need to be reminded of the skills you learn every day.

It’s easy to pick up from where you left yesterday, compared to “from where you left three days ago.” I hope you’re getting me.

If you find this difficult to do, don’t press yourself too hard at the beginning. Take it slow. For example, you can start with 20 minutes of practice and then build it up to a few hours each day.

These are the few and the most crucial skills you need to learn to make accordion learning easy.

So, if you can successfully pull them through, then you can learn the instrument, no matter how difficult it might seem in the beginning.

Be inspired by this YouTube Video:

How Long Does It Take to Learn the Accordion?

If I say I am an expert accordionist, then I will be lying to you. But I have watched some of my few friends learn from scratch, and I have had the opportunity to try it out (well, just for fun).

And with the knowledge I have, I can confidently say that there’s no standard duration as to how long it should take you to master the basics of this interesting instrument.

Yes, most individuals would readily say they did learn the in 6 weeks, others 10 weeks, and some in months. And interestingly, they will all be correct.

This is because, how long one takes to learn the accordion varies from one individual to the next. And most of the time, there are a few vital factors that contribute to this duration.

Let’s discuss them one by one:

Previous Musical Experience

This is one of the many factors determining whether you will take less or more time to learn the accordion.

According to accordion experts, if you already have some musical experience, you’re likely to master the instruments’ basics quickly.

For example, beginners with some standard piano playing experience will find it easy to play the piano accordions, compared to their button counterparts.

On the other hand, if you have played guitar before, you’re likely to have an easy time playing the Chromatic accordion, compared to the Piano accordion.

This is because the fingering style is pretty the same, and you get to pick from where you left with ease.

But even with this, I would also like to state that some individuals generally find it easy to grasp new concepts than others.

With or without previous musical experience, if you’re musically talented or conscious, it would take you less time to master it than someone who isn’t and have to find some inspiration along the way.

Type of Accordion

The type of instrument you choose for your beginner classes plays a significant role in your learning process.

That’s why it’s advisable always to consider investing in a good accordion with a low number of keys for your beginner lessons.

And yes, a low numbered keyed accordion doesn’t produce excellent sounds like an instrument with a lot of keys, but this shouldn’t be your primary focus as a learner.

The more the keys, the harder it will be for you to learn. And the vice versa is true.

Therefore, if you want to learn faster, get a low keyed instrument to help master the basics within the shortest time. You can always upgrade afterward.

Also, the fewer keys the accordion has, the less it will weigh. So, you can comfortably hold it for a long practice session.

Plus, if you get the piano accordion and have played the Piano in the past, you will find your way around it pretty first.  But if you’re a fresh beginner, then it could take you up to 8 weeks.

If you decide to begin with the button accordion, you should be ready to spend more time learning. This is because it’s more complicated than the piano instrument.

In this case, how faster you get your way around the smaller and closer together buttons, will determine the time you take learning.

Age

There’s always this misconception that young kids take less time to learn instruments such as the accordion as compared to adults.

But while I agree with some bit of it, as a younger mind remembers concepts pretty fast.

However, if you are young and don’t take your lessons seriously, you will take long before mastering even the simplest basics.

The advantage of being an adult learner is that you already know what you want and do anything to achieve it. Therefore, a dedicated accordion learner will take less time to master the instrument.

But this shouldn’t discourage young learners. So long as you’re willing and passionate about this instrument, it will be easy for you to learn.

That said, learning accordion can take place at any stage of your life.

You will only have to put in more effort when older as compared to younger. As a senior adult, you already have a lot of things to think about and might not be as active as before.

Dedicated Practice

There must be a reason why it’s often said that “practice makes perfect.” And you simply can’t ignore this when it comes to accordion learning and how long it would take you to master the instrument.

As earlier on mentioned, regular shorter practice sessions will yield more results as opposed to longer seldom training sessions.

When learning any new skill, you can quickly get frustrated, especially when things don’t seem to work out the way you planned.

With frequent practice, you can adjust pretty fast to both the size and instrument’s weight, therefore, taking less time to learn.

So, taking you back to the main question, “How long does it take to learn accordion?” I would say it all depends on how well you score in the above consideration factors.

And as long as you keep pushing, you will finally get there, no matter how long it takes. After all, life isn’t a race. What works for you might not work for others and vice versa.

The secret is to identify your strengths and weaknesses and develop a strategy to help you become a better learner.

Here are some useful insights:

How to Learn Accordion

There are no absolute good or wrong formulae when it comes to learning the accordion.

But, you can achieve faster results if you apply the following tips:

1) Have A Practice Schedule In Mind

Have you ever realized that the best way to develop habitual behaviors is by scheduling things to do into your everyday routine?

When it comes to learning new skills such as playing the accordion, constant practicing will enhance your capability.

When you schedule, you’re becoming intentional about how you want to spend your time.

Therefore, just the same way you adhere to your job station’s plan, so should you when it comes to your learning sessions.

When developing a schedule, include the days’ time and breaks in between (if you need any).

The recommended training time per day for a beginner is around 20-30 minutes, whereas advanced players should take up to 1 hour.

So, you should keep adjusting your schedule to match your learning pace.

And while at it, remember consistency is key. I have addressed this in the above section, so I am not going to detail here.

If you religiously follow your daily schedule (or at least 6 days a week), you should begin to see results within 6 weeks.

2) Take Time to Warm Up

Just the same way warm-ups are essential in a cardio workout routine, so are they in your music training sessions.

Before you get into serious business, take a few minutes to exercise your muscles. Work on your chords, scales, among others. The key is to help yourself avoid repeating the same mistakes.

Also, when you warm-up, you ready your body for the task ahead. And so it will become easy for you to concentrate.

3) Listen to Music

And here I don’t mean any type of music, but tunes that inspire your style of playing. For example, you can download a few pieces of your favorite accordion musicians playing and listen to them.

This way, you will have a specific target in mind. When you listen to professionals, you begin to reason like one, and you can quickly identify your mistakes even before someone points them out.

So, you can polish up even without the help of a tutor.

YouTube is an excellent source to get all types of accordion performances. Use it.

4) Don’t Rush

Any experienced accordion player will tell you that there’s barely anything good that comes out of rush playing, especially when you’re starting.

Yes, you’re excited, and yes, you want to go through the notes, but you should control yourself, or else you make a lot of mistakes along the way and end up feeling discouraged.

The advantage of playing slow is that you get to identify all the details, which you can then use in the subsequent serious sessions.

5) Feed on Information

Learning should never stop. And if you don’t learn something new each day, then you’re missing out on a lot of fine details within your environment.

Therefore, the best way to learn accordions is by feeding on as much information as possible.

The internet is full of free and affordable resources such as YouTube, Accordionlife, online accordion teachers, and much more.

The more you get to understand about this instrument, the more you will like to master it.

6) Repeat and Repeat

Yes, this might be annoying initially, but you will understand the importance of repetition as you progress.

When you repeat play, you’re also likely to develop a new way of practicing. And it’s those little twists that will help you better at the instrument.

The secret is to set the purpose of each repetition set so that you can swiftly proceed to the next set and focus on making it perfect.

Self-Taught Vs. Taking Accordion Lessons: Which Is Right for You?

In any form of learning, having a tutor is always advantageous. The same case applies to learn the accordion.

However, due to the unpopularity of this instrument, not many music teachers take it up. And this is why there are few accordion teachers in the world, including the US and Europe.

So, before we even discuss which between the self-taught and taking accordion lessons option is better, you should count yourself lucky if you’re able to locate a one-on-one tutor.

But the good thing is that you can still find online teachers, which is a plus. But is this necessary? And which one is the best for you?

Therefore, if you can enroll in lessons, then, by all means, go for it, especially if you’re an absolute beginner.

However, if you have had some experience with the piano or guitar and are confident about your skills, you can go for the self-taught option with various resources, such as those I mentioned earlier.

FAQs About How Hard Is It to Learn Accordion

What Is the Easiest Accordion to Learn?

For a player with no musical experience, a button accordion will be easy to learn. It has a few keys and smaller buttons.

But those with experience will find the piano accordion easy to learn. It usually has one key per note.

Is Accordion Harder Than the Piano?

Yes, it’s generally a little bit harder to master the accordion as opposed to a piano. When learning the accordion, the player has to press keys /buttons and control the bellows simultaneously.

Can You Learn Accordion on Your Own?

Yes, you can. But you should know that learning is an individual decision. So if you’re self-disciplined, then you can quickly learn it using tons of available online resources.

But if not, then it’s advisable to hire a tutor or enroll in some lessons.

Do People Still Play the Accordion?

Although the use of accordion isn’t as popular as playing the saxophone, people still play it and learning in various parts of the world, even today.

Do Accordions Need to Be Tuned?

Yes, but it doesn’t happen often.  It all depends on how frequently and hard you play.

Wrap Up

Learning to play the accordion can be hard or easy, depending on your perspective, previous experience, the type of instrument you choose, among other useful factors.

But, the most crucial point I want you to take home from this article is that:

No matter how difficult the instrument might seem, you can still hack it, with the right attitude, passion, and willingness to learn from mistakes.

Lee Cardwell
Owner and Chief Editor of Music Tech Hub. I play banjo, mandolin and I am currently learning how to play the harmonica.

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