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Traditional Irish Button Accordion | Beginner 1

Study the basics of the button accordion in this free online course with Irish champion Conor Connolly.

Publisher: World Music Project (Alison)
The button accordion has been at the heart of traditional Irish music for generations and now you too can learn with these free online beginner accordion lessons, with notes. Your tutor is Conor Connolly, a former Young Irish Musician of the Year. He will teach you the basic accordion skills any beginner needs, along with some tunes. While the button accordion may seem difficult, you will be playing polkas before the end of this 11-part course!
Traditional Irish Button Accordion | Beginner 1
  • Duration

    1.5-3 Hours
  • Students

  • Accreditation


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This free online Irish accordion course is designed to help the beginner develop the basic skills needed to play one of Traditional Irish music’s core instruments. While the accordion is popular in a number of countries’ cultural traditions and is often associated with romantic ballads, in Irish music, it is normally played with gusto. Like the piano, its percussive qualities are matched by strong melodic strains, making this a favourite accompaniment for Traditional Irish dancing at fleadhs, ceilis and set dances. The effortless joy of a well-played button accordion belies the technical know-how needed to master the instrument. First of all, you must memorise which button is associated with each note, then co-ordinate the movement of the bellows in or out. That in turn alters the note that is being played. And all that is without mentioning the different tuning systems! These mysteries and many more are patiently explained by your tutor, Conor Connolly. In this course, he covers the basics that any beginner accordion player needs to know, using the B/C tuning system, which is most commonly used in Irish music. Through a series of clear, concise lessons, Conor will introduce you to the techniques needed to play the accordion with confidence.

The course begins with instruction on holding the instrument correctly and becoming acquainted with the bellows and the notes. Before long, you will know your way around the accordion and be ready to master the scale of D, which is the building block for tunes in a number of keys. Conor breaks this down into segments and ensures that learners have a clear grasp of the fingering on the right hand as well as the bellows before moving on to teaching some popular Irish tunes. First up is a tune from the home of Irish polka dancing, ‘The Dingle Polka’, named after the west Kerry village. He teaches the tune, which offers opportunities to practise the D scale, in separate parts. The notes are provided in a downloadable PDF from the resource section of the course, however, Conor encourages learners to play by ear. Once that milestone first tune has been mastered, the accordion lessons proceed to another popular tune, ‘Tom McGowan’s Polka’. This is in the key of E minor and introduces learners to playing some notes in the higher octave. Again, Conor breaks the tune down into easy to manage segments.

If you enjoy Irish dancing tunes and would love to be able to play along on one of folk music's most distinctive instruments, this free online accordion guide provides the ideal starting point. You will be learning from a champion accordion player who hails from south Galway, dubbed ‘The Accordion Capital of Ireland’. The west coast is a major hub for Traditional Irish music and Conor Connolly is very much part of that, with his talent winning him the prestigious TG4 Gradam Ceoil Young Musician of the Year prize in 2019. Conor also teaches the other two courses in this series, Traditional Irish Accordion, Beginner 2, where you will progress to jigs and the C scale, and finally Traditional Irish Accordion, Intermediate, which includes a barn dance, a jig and a reel. Throughout the three courses, you will be learning tunes that are played across Ireland and beyond. By completing this course, you can not only learn those all-important techniques that are fundamental to becoming a competent button accordion player but you can also gain certification by passing the end-of-course assessment. It’s time to press those buttons!

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