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Free Button Accordion Tutorial

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Derek Hickey

Derek HickeyDerek Hickey hails from Adare, Co. Limerick. Both his grandfathers played fiddle, and his own musical career began at ten years of age when his uncle left an accordion in the family home. Derek progressed to dance tunes within weeks, though he didn’t begin lessons-under the tutelage of Dónal de Barra-until he was 12.

Derek’s professional career began three years later when he joined the Shannonside Céilí Band. Formed by the Liddy family, the band was particularly popular in the north of the country. It also toured extensively in England, and made regular trips throughout Europe.

In 1991 Frankie Gavin asked Derek to join him for regular sessions in his hotel in Kinvara, Co. Galway. One year later, at just eighteen years of age, Derek joined Arcady, a band comprising some of Ireland's finest folk musicians, lead by bodhrán player Johnny ’Ringo’ McDonagh. Frances Black, Brendan Larrisey and Patsy Broderick were also members of the band at that time, and many other household names have played in the line-up including Sharon Shannon, Cathal Hayden and Gerry O’Connor.

In 1995 Derek joined the legendary Dé Dannan. The Dé Dannan sound has always been based around the interaction between Frankie Gavin’s virtuoso fiddle and the box (accordion). Other great box players in Dé Dannan’s colourful history have included Jackie Daly, Máirtín O’Connor and Aidan Coffey.

Derek recorded a solo album on the Shanachie record label, and was accompanied by some of the most influecial players on the traditional music scene, with Arty McGlynn on guitar, Alec Finn on bouzouki and Brian McGrath on piano.

How To Hold The Button Accordion

The best way to hold the accordion is to place it on your left leg, and use the right-hand shoulder strap for balance.

The right hand is placed on the fingerboard by sitting your thumb into the groove on the side; thumb straps are sometimes provided, but they can restrict your right-hand movement so try to get used to the groove.

You need to control the bellows with your left hand; so the strap should be adjusted to give you the optimum control.

Beginners - The Scale Of D.

Before we learn any tunes, I'd like to show you the scale in the key of D, and how to become familiar with where the notes are located on the fingerboard.

The D scale has 8 notes: D,E,F#,G,A,B,C#,D. You can see from the video that D, the first note, is on the draw (pull), E,F#, and G are on the press (push) and A,B,C#, and high D are on the draw. Try to play the scale using the same fingering that I have used.

Murphy’s Hornpipe

Play Video ⬇

Beginners - Miss Monaghan.

There is a three-note triplet at the beginning of this tune; this is almost part of the tune, so I thought it better to leave it in. We will look at triplets in more detail later on.

Miss Monaghan

Play A Part ⬇

Play B Part ⬇

Advanced - Tell Her I Am.

The use of ornamentation is becoming concentrated now! You will notice that the fingering is different for the triplet on D,E,D:
I use the first-second-first fingers to play it. Usually a triplet in the lower register will call for this fingering, and in the higher register you will find yourself using the second-third-second as seen before.

It really depends on whether you’re moving up or down, and thus what fingers are available or are easier to use.

Tell Her I Am

Play A Part ⬇

Play B Part ⬇

Play Full Tune ⬇