Obviously the first thing you need to do if you want to learn how to play accordion is to find an accordion to play.
But how do you go about it?
You could go out and buy a lovely shiny new 120 bass accordion from a music shop, but it probably makes more sense to start off with a smaller instrument. You can then look for a full sized accordion when you have mastered some chords and tunes, and are sure that you want to continue playing.
It also makes sense to start with a used accordion or one you can borrow. That way, if you find that it doesn’t suit you, you haven’t wasted money on something that will sit around in your spare room gathering dust. On the other hand, if you do find that you really love playing accordion, you will have some experience and will know just what you are looking for when it comes to shopping for a new or better instrument.
When I first started learning how to play accordion, I borrowed a little old ”squeezebox” from a friend. It had just 12 buttons on the left hand side, so I didn’t have to remember much in the beginning. It was also very light and easy to control.
Once I had mastered the chords and a few easy tunes on this little accordion, my friend lent me another larger one with 24 bass buttons so that I could progress to more interesting tunes. It was enough to get me started, and I could accompany some songs as well as join in with a small school folk band.
So keep an eye out for second hand instruments. Many music shops have a range of used instruments for sale, or will be able to advise you about the best places to find them in your area. Look through classified ads in your local paper, check out ebay and other online auctions and sources to find an accordion for sale. You might even find that a friend or relative has an accordion stashed away in their attic.
When you do find an accordion you like, make sure that it is in good condition. It’s really frustrating when you start learning how to play accordion if the instrument makes wheezy noises, or the notes don’t play properly. The keys and bass buttons should all play freely with no sticking. The accordion bellows should be intact with no tears or air leaks. To test this out, press the air release button and pull out the bellows. You should hear a hiss and the instrument should pull out easily. Then take your finger off the air release button and try pushing the bellows shut. If the bellows are good, there should be firm resistance and no leak of air.
It is also important that the accordion strap is in good condion, as well as any other securing straps for the bellows.
It may take a while to find an accordion that you feel is the right one for you, so while you are waiting it may be a good idea to start learning a bit about keyboards and notes. Then, once you have found your first instrument you will be ready to begin learning some chords and simple tunes.