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Intro to Bellow Technique

The accordion is a PHYSICALLY demanding instrument to master. On the piano – notes, phrasing and dynamics are controlled by the fingers striking the keys – independently per hand. Each hand can phrase differently, control the attach on the key and that affects the volume, expression, and timber of the note.

BUT with the accordion, the phrasing and dynamics for both hands (at the same time) are controlled by the bellows. Only the notes are controlled by the fingers. ADD in the amount of air flow required to “sound” the bass tone at the same time as a higher pitched reed in the right hand is initiated – there is a major conflict! The “timing” of sounding the low and the high reeds at the same time – much less the volume “balance” is near impossible!


Let’s start with a simple exercise – LEARN YOUR REED CAPABILITIES

  1. HOLD BELLOWS CLOSED – put RH finger on low C (bassoon reed – single low reed) – now open bellows SLOWLY – listen for when reed starts to sound.
  2. HOLD BELLOW STOPPED IN OPEN POSITION – push in SLOWLY – repeat steps above.
  3. NOW – Repeat steps 1 & 2 – with middle C – then high C
  4. NOW – Repeat steps 1 & 2 – with single middle reed on all 3 Cs. Then High Reed – etc.
  5. NOW – Repeat steps 1 & 2 – with several bass notes and then several chords
  6. FINALLY – Repeat steps 1 & 2 – with a 4 note chord plus BASS & CHORD held down (Aim for SAME Volume as singe note exercise)

What did you LEARN?

  1. The lower the pitch of the note – the more air required to get the reed to FULLY SOUND
  2. The higher the pitch – the less air required to sound the note.
  3. There is an OBVIOUS LAG – when bellows are started and the reed FULLY responds!
  4. AND there is a MAJOR difference in the response for OUT or IN bellows!
  5. FINALLY – MORE AIR (Faster movement of bellows required) for multiple notes AND Basses – compared to single note – single reed.

If you have more than 1 accordion – repeat this exercise with each accordion!

This is a REQUIRED exercise – if you play an electronic accordion. COMPARE the acoustic against the electronic – for “reed” response and bellow speed needed. That is most accordionist’s response – to playing an electronic accordion – they never realized the phenomenon of “REED LAG” and “speed of bellows with lower and multiple notes” – that they had become used to – and the electronic has NO LAG or NO BELLOW SPEED change!

 NEXT: Bellow Technique – Movement