On you tube type in Chris Miller Love Bridge Waltz very good lesson on learning your first Cajun song
Welcome to the group Mark. First, you need to listen to Cajun music as much as possible. Seeing that it is learned mostly by ear, this will help you become familiar with the tunes you will be learning. A great source for Cajun music MP3 downloads is iTunes or Amazon.com, iTunes will work on Windows as well as Mac. Another source that I enjoy is cajunmusicradio.com. You will hear a great variety of old and new Cajun/Creole/Zydeco tunes on that station. I also highly recommend Big Nick's DVDs as well as his web site. I have used his "Learn to Play Cajun Accordion" DVD Vol 1 and 2 and the website and I swear by them. Next, you should download and buy the license for the Amazing Slowdowner. It works well with iTunes and you can select a playlist to import into the Slowdowner. Pick a song and it will slow down the tune without changing pitch. I have used this tool for almost 3 years and am very pleased with it. Purchase Ann Savoy's book of Cajun music. It is loaded with sheet music and lyrics for most of the standard tunes. Next, try to get together with some one who plays Cajun music. This is the best way to learn the "tricks of the trade". Go to dances and talk to the musicians. They are always glad to help a beginner. Finally practice every day. Learn one song at a time and if you have one, use a metronome. There a some free electronic ones on the internet available for download. You will need this to learn good timing and rhythm. This is very important because you are learning dance music. Good luck and keep squeezin'.
Welcome to the group, Mark.
Big Nicks vids are great and will help you getting started. The main thing is to try to play at least some every day. There will be frustration, but keep at it.
While waiting for your videos, probably the best thing you can do is scales - especially in octaves.
Keep at it and don't be afraid to post your progress.
John in Oregon
Thanks for all the good advice. I've figured out how to play a bunch of non-cajun songs on the box. I'm completely amazed by Big Nick's tunes. I have to tell you how much I love playing the accordion, and how much I can't wait to get better. Are there any accordion festivals in the NE states or Canada??? :)
Mark, go to this link: BostonZydeco.org then click on the New England Schedule. You will find monthly dances at the German Club in Pawtucket, RI, There is a big Mardi Gras dance in Cranston RI and a big festival just outside of Norwich CT in June. There are other activities in the area. This site will help. What state are you in? I'm in MA just north of Boston.
Dana pretty much said it all. Learn it as many different ways as possible, until you're thoroughly confused -- which is a good thing. My motto is, "If you don't make mistakes, you're not trying hard enough."
Here are 7 mistakes that I have made that you might try to avoid. I, too, live in an area where there are no Cajun accordion players. It's just us, the internet, some tunes, and the Amazing SlowDowner. (Google the latter - it's handy.)
1. Check out Ganey Arsement's basic accordion video on YouTube (link #2). Dull and fundamental, but essential. I jumped past this basic stuff and nearly beat myself to death before realizing that this is the first-day orientation.
2. Chris Miller Love Bridge Waltz four instructional vids on YouTube (Link #3) are invaluable. Impatiently, I moved out on my own, seeking more upbeat material, missing many foundation elements, such as glue the fingers to the keys. (it's easier earlier than later in your accordion career to master this.)
3. Don't try to learn on an inferior instrument. I opted for a Hohner Arriette, and wasted half the time and all the money I spent on it because it was leaky, sticky, and unresponsive. A bad instrument is like a ball and chain. If you can't afford a mid-range accordion ($700-$1000), it might be best to postpone the the substantial investment of time it takes to learn the squeezebox.
4. I didn't take Big Nick's "Mary Had a Little Lamb" drill (Big Nick's Cajun Accordion Vol. 2) seriously. Big mistake. The left hand will miraculously separate from the right at some point in time. The more you play "Mary", the sooner it will happen. I call this the "first plateau" of learning to play the accordion.
5. Tempo. Work with a drum machine, metronome, or similar rhythm device. I tried to go it alone for over six months, and my playing was so choppy I couldn't stand it. Play to a steady tempo every time you practice.
6. Speed will come with practice. I tried to outpace my skills many times, but then I dropped back and often played too slow. Move the tempo up in gradual increments, and you will often find that faster is sometimes easier than a slow beat. Sometimes then next day will yield a vast improvement from the previous day's frustrations.
7. Don't expect to be able to play with the legends. Most of the good players have a 10 or 20 year head start on you. You must be realistic, but strive to improve every day. Play for yourself (for now), and you'll have an understanding audience when you screw up.
Having made these mistakes, I estimate that I have probably wasted a month out of the first six. Try to be patient and methodical.
All that said, the Cajun Accordion is a really fun instrument, and I'm anxiously working to reach the "next" plateau.
Good luck in your endeavor.
That was some very good advice Ned. Well formulated.
a lot of erreurs sound very familiar to me.Respect!
I think everybody who starts to play this music should put these seven Commandments in a frame and hang it on the wall.