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Great Tips for Ensemble Players (Good for Solo work too!)

I just returned from working with TWO FANTASTIC accordion ensembles – one in San Diego California and the other in Yuma Arizona – please see some of the photos below.

We had a fantastic time – please sign up your accordion ensemble for a workshop in the future. JUST ASK these two clubs about how much fun we had!!!

Here is the workshop guidelines I started with – I thought you all (ya’ll) would love to see these.

4 Ways to Play a Note

  1. The Correct Note
    1. Check the Key Signature
      1. Key Signature
      2. First and Last Chord (If no key change in middle)
      3. Last Chord Is the Key
      4. Understand Minor Key Signatures
    2. Write in Fingering if needed
  1. Played on the correct beat
    1. Initiate the note exactly on the correct beat or count
    2. Learn to SAY your counts OUT LOUD
    3. WRITE the COUNT below or before the note
    4. When syncopation occurs (note hits off the beat) and you get trapped – just SPEAK the words – SHORT for the 8th note and LONG for the Quarter or longer notes!
    5. When the meter changes like 4/4 to 2/4 – Continue counting from the first measure – like – 1-2-3-4 then continue – 5-6 – for the 2/4 measure.
  1. Start and End Note Correctly
    1. 3 ways to strike a note
      1. Dribble a ball – staccato (Wrist – not full arm)
      2. Full Depress – bottom out key – detached – Full Arm for weight
      3. DIG IN – Legato – weighted fingers
    2. 3 ways to end a note
      1. Lift note after the full value has been reached
      2. Lift the note short of full value – to accentuate a phrase ending
      3. Lift the note AS you are depressing the next – to accomplish legato
    3. PLAY RESTS VERY LOUD!! SPEAK the word “Rest” when playing
  1. Proper Volume
    1. Start the note at the notated dynamic
    2. End the note without a JERK (lift finger don’t involve the bellows)
    3. ALWAYS crescendo into a phrase and diminuendo out of a phrase
    4. Accents are to be played at the marked dynamic – not louder (simple pop of the bellows)

Hope this helps – now here is a FUNNY!!

Golden Rules for Ensemble Playing

  1. Everyone should play the same piece.
  2. Stop at every repeat sign and discuss in detail whether to take the repeat or not. The audience will love this a lot!
  3. If you play a wrong note, give a nasty look at the performer next to you.
  4. Keep your fingering chart handy – You can always catch up with the others.
  5. Take your time turning pages.
  6. The right note at the wrong time is a wrong note (and vice-versa)
  7. If everyone gets lost except you, follow those that get lost.
  8. Strive to get the maximum NPS (notes per second). That way you gain the admiration of the incompetent.
  9. Marks for slurs, dynamics and ornaments should not be observed. They are only there to embellish the score.
  10. If a passage is difficult, slow down. If it’s easy, speed it up. Everything will work itself out in the end.
  11. A wrong note played timidly is a wrong note. A wrong note played with authority is an interpretation.
  12. When everyone else has finished playing, you should not play any notes you have left.
  13. The conductor WILL stop waving their arms – when the music stops.
San Diego Orchestra Rehearsal1

Shelia workshopping the San Diego Accordion Ensemble

Yuma Accordion Orchestra Workshop 2

Shelia works 8 hours with the Yuma Arizona Accordion Ensemble

Yuma Accordion Orchestra Workshop6

Yuma was a 2 day affair – and we learned 11 NEW Songs!

Yuma Jam Workshop-Pinky on C

Shelia at Coreen’s home – works with over 12 accordionists to learn HOW TO JAM!!!