It is possible to teach yourself how to play accordion using books, DVDs, online resources and so on. But there is much to be said for having a teacher who will structure your learning and provide a regular source of demonstration and encouragement.
An accordion teacher will show you the correct i.e. the best, way to do things, and will correct any mistakes you make that you didn’t even realise were mistakes!
I discovered this when I started to have some accordion lessons over three years after I had started learning on my own. I had managed to teach myself how to play my accordion well enough to accompany singing and play in a school folk band. I thought I sounded fine and other people said I sounded good, but I decided that it would be useful to get some help and tips to improve my playing. I wanted to progress!
In my first few accordion lessons, the teacher spent a large amount of time showing me how to use the bellows correctly. This was something that wasn’t covered in any of the books I had. And it made a huge difference to how I played when I was taught the correct way to “squeeze”! You might think that it’s just a matter of pulling and pushing the bellows, and to be honest - so did I! But I soon learned that it made a huge difference when I learned the best places to change from a pull to a push, and how to vary the volume by altering the pressure when I squeezed the bellows.
Another thing that my teacher taught me was how to press the buttons. Well I thought I was pressing them perfectly well. After all, a press is a press isn’t it?
But no – there are subtle and not so subtle differences in how you can press the buttons. And the difference in the effects you get from pressing buttons in a precise way, rather than sloppily, can make a tune sound amazingly better.
A good teacher will guide you through exercises that improve your playing; will encourage you; will demonstrate techniques. A good teacher will give you someone to be accountable to and will know if you do not practise!
I do think that the resources available to teach yourself how to play accordion are much better and more thorough than they were when I started learning. So yes – get a book, buy a DVD or online course and get cracking with teaching yourself.
But remember the advantages of having a personal teacher – and consider investing in some accordion lessons as soon as you can. It will be well worth it!