How do they do that?

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Happy girl
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How do they do that?

Post by Happy girl » Fri Nov 04, 2016 5:10 am

The one thing I most admire when watching a skilled PA accordionist is their ability to shoot up & down the octaves, move from one chord to another all within a blink of an eye sight unseen. How do they do that so effortlessly?

Yes, I know; years of practice & dedication: which leads me on to the next question; how can a mere mortal (& a retired one at that!) even set off & attempt to emulate this wondrous process?

Are there are any ‘easy to understand’ videos on line which demonstrates the concept clearly & simply?

I love technical exercises but I am looking for something more…..an insight into ‘the tricks of the trade’ if you like, a starting point & a gentler way forward, which in effect should make the whole process more sustainable.

The whole focus for me is in the word 'attempt'. Nothing ventured nothing gained

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Re: How do they do that?

Post by NigelB » Fri Nov 04, 2016 10:35 am

You could spend a few moments with your eyes closed visualising the keyboard and imagine your fingers playing the notes. Try to keep the mental picture of the keyboard in your mind as you practice and look at that instead of the real thing. I think the 'minds eye' processes the information and formulates the actions much faster and more fluidly than the real eyes. When performing I often find I'm staring at someones shoes intensely as I visualise the keyboard.

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Re: How do they do that?

Post by Pianoman1 » Fri Nov 04, 2016 10:53 am

Totally agree with visualisation also practice root and inversions of 3 and 4 note chords so that you can put them on at speed and move easily from one to another Also practice doing this as arpgeggios as it frees up the hand

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Re: How do they do that?

Post by debra » Fri Nov 04, 2016 11:14 am

Happy girl wrote:The one thing I most admire when watching a skilled PA accordionist is their ability to shoot up & down the octaves, move from one chord to another all within a blink of an eye sight unseen. How do they do that so effortlessly?
They don't. It is not effortless at all.
Happy girl wrote: Yes, I know; years of practice & dedication: which leads me on to the next question; how can a mere mortal (& a retired one at that!) even set off & attempt to emulate this wondrous process?
Some have more "talent" than others, but nobody can do this without a lot of practice and dedication. And I mean several hours of practice every day.
Something that greatly contributes is to keep playing either the same instrument of an instrument of the exact same (keyboard) size for a very long time. I always say "the keys have not moved up and down at all in all these years, they are still in the same position" to players who look at their keyboard to find the notes. (This comment is often not appreciated :( )
Paul De Bra (not Debra...)
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Re: How do they do that?

Post by simonking » Fri Nov 04, 2016 11:20 am

Happy girl wrote:The one thing I most admire when watching a skilled PA accordionist is their ability to shoot up & down the octaves, move from one chord to another all within a blink of an eye sight unseen. How do they do that so effortlessly?
Can you post a link to a few videos with an example of technique/sound you like?

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Re: How do they do that?

Post by Anyanka » Fri Nov 04, 2016 12:04 pm

I know what you mean. My two mentors, Karen Tweed and Paul Hutchinson, both play up and down the keyboard with flying fingers - the keys don't seem to move but the music pours out. Both started young and played for several hours a day. Eventually you just KNOW where everything is, with that thing that most people (inaccurately) call 'muscle memory'. I can do it on the whistle, but not on the accordion, probably because I learned recorder as a child, and really ploughed those neural pathways....

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Re: How do they do that?

Post by george garside » Fri Nov 04, 2016 1:38 pm

As Paul has said its down to hours and hours of regular practice and is therefore something that many of us are unlikely to achieve simply because we can't or won't practice to what I would term 'professional' i.e earning a living olaying the box, standard.( I am aware that there are some really dedicated demon players but they are probably in a minority)

For most of us its a question of setting realistic gaols taking age , physical condition - arthritis or whatever - into account as well as the time we are able/prepared to devout to the box. In other words to be happy with whatever we can achieve whilst remaining hopeful of perhaps getting a wee bit better!

As to charging about the keyboard without looking the simple answer is DON'T LOOK - ever!!. practice scales in all or at least several keys each time you pick up the box and DON'T have a gander at the keyboard - do it by LISTENING. If it sounds wrong just start again (without looking)

The mental process involved is rather like the way a singer operates the gob! Think it or read it and the gob operates without conscious instructions eg open a bit more, move tongue here or there, purse lips , blow harder or whatever. With the box it needs to be think it (if playing by ear) or read it in terms of how much higher or lower the next note is and the fingers should go there without conscious thought - its not muscle memory but the superb computer we all have in our head functioning in the way we have programmed it to act.

In a sense to prove the point on the 3 row british chromatic , which is my preferred box, there is absolutely no point in looking at the keyboard as it is just a mass of white buttons with no 'black' ones to act as navigational aids!. As well as hitting the right button at the right time the left arm has to know whether to push or pull the bellows and just to add to the fun the right fingers need to instictlively go for the white button that provides the best bellwos control for the particular part of a particulat tune. The bass 96 in my case are standard stradella.

Thinking about it we all manage the bass without looking so why do we need to look at the treble?!

george

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Re: How do they do that?

Post by JerryPH » Fri Nov 04, 2016 2:04 pm

The easier someone makes a quick passage look, you can be 100% sure that it looks good because they put more time in practicing. Sure, natural talent has some small amount to do with it, but les face it, the great equalizer is time, effort and determination. The more time you put in, the easier it becomes and the more you look to even more complex passages.

Ksenja Sidorova is an accomplished professional, yet if you look at her videos 2-3 years ago, when she was nearing the peak of her popularity versus her most recent videos, it is obvious she has improved tremendously. She also makes mention of rarely even taking vacations without her accordion and even during "time off" she practices (only once in her life did she take a week off to go skiing and no accordion in sight), and the biggest bulk of what she does is exercises over and over and when that gets monotonous, she plays only the most difficult passages of various songs over and over. I think sometimes we as musicians have to be able to close off the part of the mind that says "I've done this 200 times already, I'm bored!" to think something along the lines of "I've only done this 200 times, I need to do it 300 times more, but cleaner and faster!". :)

I wonder how many here play hard enough that their fingers and forearms burn from the exertion? I used to do that EVERY day, 7 days a week to the point that for years I had no hair on my left forearm/wrist and left thigh (lol). Today, if I get even lightly fatigued, I stop, and for me, if I want to get back even a small piece of what I lost, I need to break that attitude.

I don't know about you, but I think I just motivated myself to practice more, better and try harder... lol :b
My musical memoires blog/website: http://www.AccordionMemories.com

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Re: How do they do that?

Post by Happy girl » Fri Nov 04, 2016 5:24 pm

Of course, it has been said many times on this forum not to look at the keyboard, but, to my knowledge it has never been explained why this is so, & to propose the alternative of visualisation.

It is not everyone’s forte’ to know instinctively the reasons behind these ‘rules’ & for me, it is a new way of thinking. I am guilty of eternally scanning the keyboard to check if I am in the right place.

I will now train myself to exercise my ears & employ visualisation. I feel more confident already.

Thank you.

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Re: How do they do that?

Post by JerryPH » Fri Nov 04, 2016 5:52 pm

Happy girl wrote:Of course, it has been said many times on this forum not to look at the keyboard, but, to my knowledge it has never been explained why this is so, & to propose the alternative of visualisation.
The very shape of the accordion makes it either very difficult or impossible to twist your head forward and down enough to watch the keyboard for anything more than a few seconds, or you risk an eventual kink in the neck. Yes, we **all** look at the keyboard from time to time, that is not against the rules, but there are times to not watch the keyboard, and that is once you begin playing.

To look at the keyboard before you start to set your finger location or to check the accordion registers is fine. After that moment, your eyes should be looking at the music or the people in front of you, or closed or whatever... anywhere else but looking down at the keys that is a comfortable position. Think of the accordion as a "touchy-feelie" instrument. Here is something I challenge you to play with... instead of looking down, turn your head side to side, eyes closed and listen to the music, listen for the tonal and spatial changes. At first it is going to cause you to do a mistake here and there, but that passes fast. Concentrate on the music, not where you hands and fingers are. In time, they will know where to go all by themselves. This is called muscle memory.
Happy girl wrote:It is not everyone’s forte’ to know instinctively the reasons behind these ‘rules’ & for me, it is a new way of thinking. I am guilty of eternally scanning the keyboard to check if I am in the right place.
There is very little that is instinctive about this entire process, so no need to feel bad or guilty. This is all one huge learning process for all of us, not just for you. :)

Now that you are aware of it, this is just a bad habit to get over, and you do that by being conscious about it and doing your best to be aware of it and trying your best to not do it again. Effort and (this should be the forum's new signature... lol) "grim determination" will help make this a habit that for you falls off soon and you can move on to other challenges. Like all things, the moment you put on the accordion, you are practicing. That includes practicing to not look at the keyboard and once this is not an issue, you should even be able to change accordion registers without looking.

As a kid I recall exactly how I felt when my teacher told me this, and I said it was very hard to do... up until the moment that my teacher told me to consider that the register button was just another key to "play" and all I had to do was to remember what "key" was where. It just became another thing to practice and learn... and I did.
Happy girl wrote:I will now train myself to exercise my ears & employ visualisation. I feel more confident already.
Go for it! :D
My musical memoires blog/website: http://www.AccordionMemories.com

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