Out of date. Out of touch. Antiquated. Out of style. Cheesy.
Do any of these terms apply to accordion learning books you’ve come across? If you said yes, you’re not alone. There are many old accordion method books from the 1950s and 1960s still being reprinted and being taught from. When they were written, these old method books were filled with relevant music and styles that accordionists recognized and associated themselves with. But many years have passed since then and while the entire world has changed tastes and even accordion techniques, these books continue to be reprinted and sold.
In my opinion this is a big problem. At the very least the music is tired and extremely dated, at the worst the techniques being taught are antiquated and can set the stage for a limited skill set and lots of remedial work to correct a bad habit.
a great method book
The only method book I would recommend for beginner accordionists is the book Richard Galliano Méthode complète d’accordéon written by Lucien and Richard Galliano (father and son). Currently only published in French.
Although I use additional exercises and pieces for technique and theory, this is the only method I teach out of. And some of the finest accordionists I know teach out of it as well.
who it is for
Richard Galliano Méthode complète d’accordéon is appropriate for:
- those who know nothing about music
- those who know nothing about accordion
- those who need a new foundation for their LH technique
- those who are currently working through a dated accordion method
where it excels
Point 1. The pieces in the book are inventively crafted to possess the necessary challenges and yet remain pleasant to play and listen to over and over. Almost every piece in the book is tasteful, musical and pleasant. There is definitely an emphasis on the French accordion sound, but it is not exclusive and the styles are drawn from around Europe and the Americas.
Point 2. There is a distinct emphasis on involving the left hand and developing left hand technique beyond oom-pa-pa. Starting in the first piece the left hand is introduced as a melodic voice. Chapter 1 begins with 2 notes in each hand and progresses until each hand is playing melodies with 5 notes. Only in chapter 2 do the chord buttons get introduced. And when playing rhythm (bass & chord) begins, the students are taught the important contemporary fingering style of 4th finger dominant and use of the pinky finger for some bass notes and chords. This is major, especially for those brand new to the accordion.
Point 3. The book is targeted and concise. Which, for the student, means that no week of instruction is wasted, each piece is a gem, and the book remains an attainable length to complete. In about 100 I have moved students from no prior knowledge of music or accordion to an advanced beginner level, with knowledge and chops that I stand proudly behind.
where it lacks
While this is the best book out there, that I know of, it doesn’t do everything.
Currently the book is only published in French, which presents a language barrier for most Americans. However, I definitely don’t think this makes the book unusable. I have almost no understanding of the French language and I was able to quite easily translate the necessary sentences using google and understand everything the book has to offer.
Basic bellowing exercises are crucial for beginners, and although this book definitely includes bellowing directions, it doesn’t possess any exercises designed to isolate and improve bellowing control and technique.
Because of the succinct text descriptions and the French language this book is best used with an instructor or skilled accordionist to consult and decode. This is not a ‘teach yourself accordion’ style book.
No method is perfect, but Richard Galliano Méthode complète d’accordéon is definitely the best one out there. If you are new to the accordion and are looking for the best instructional book out there, I recommend you pick this one up.
Dallas Vietty is a Philadelphia based jazz accordionist and accordion educator. As a musician he performs around the United States. His past projects have allowed him to perform the some of the top music venues: Jazz at Lincoln Center NYC, Iridium NYC, Kimmel Center Philadelphia, Catalina’s Los Angeles to name a few. As an educator Dallas is a pioneer in online accordion education through his learning website rebelreed.com. He is also one of the most in demand workshop and music camp instructors for accordion.