The Accordion for Beginners

by Chris Brower
The left and right hands perform different functions on the accordion.

The left and right hands perform different functions on the accordion.

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The accordion is known for its signature sound heard in polkas and zydeco music. It shares similarities with a piano in that its keys are arranged like those of a piano and a specific hand controls particular notes. Like all instruments, the accordion requires practice to play proficiently. However, there are some basic things you should know to get started.


Like a piano, your right hand controls the treble notes, while the left hand controls bass notes. The right hand plays the side of the accordion that looks similar to a piano, playing chords and individual notes. The left hand plays the other side of the accordion, which consists of buttons that are pressed to play preset bass chords. You can play each side individually or together.


Although the accordion often is played while standing up, sitting is typically the most comfortable way to play. Choose a chair that allows both feet to touch the ground, and sit up straight. Also, make sure the accordion is comfortably strapped to your body. The accordion straps should go around your body, much like a backpack. Position the accordion so your fingers are curved over the keys, allowing you to use the tips of your fingers.


The bellows is the center part of the accordion that expands and contracts to create sound. The bellows is controlled using the left hand, while the left hand also plays the bass notes. The left hand is positioned in a strap on the left side of the accordion, making it easy to move the bellows using the back and front of the left hand. The easiest way to control the bellows is to time the change in direction (pushing the bellows toward the rest of the accordion or pulling it away) to a phrase in the music, such as every measure.


Accordions have several buttons and fragile parts, making proper storage essential to prolong the life of an accordion. It's important to store the accordion in a dry, warm place. It can damage the accordion to store it near a heater or in a car overnight. Also, storing it in a case reduces the risk of the accordion being damaged when it is not in use.

About the Author

Chris Brower is a writer with a B.A. in English. He also spent time studying journalism and utilizes both to deliver well-written content, paying close attention to audience, and knowing one word could determine whether a product is a success or a failure. He has experience writing articles, press releases, radio scripts, novels, short stories, poems and more.

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