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Irish BC button accordion beginner lesson - finding notes / scales

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so this is my method for learning where

all the notes are on the BC accordion or

at least all the ones that you'll need

for playing 95% of Irish traditional

music you can learn just these notes and

be able to learn hundreds of tunes and

then there's the odd tune later on that

you might want to learn some extra notes

for but for most students this will

cover you so a lot of the time when you

start learning where the notes are on an

instrument you might just learn one

major scale you might learn like the G

Major scale from G up to G the reason I

don't like to do like that on this

instrument is because there's not that

much traditional Irish music that fits

within one octave like G to G in a major

scale or D to D in a D major scale there

might be a few and if you can think of

any leave them in the comments below so

those are always handy to know but the

majority of tunes that are really common

for beginners to learn a lot of them use

maybe like an octave and a half you know

a bit more so it's good to learn the

notes all the way up and down right from

the start and then there's a huge number

of genes you can learn so what you need

is like a common pattern that helps you

learn it all the way up and down so the

notes we're going to learn first are the

notes that are in the key of G major and

the key of D major so these are by far

the most common notes and for all of

traditional Irish music and yeah if you

take the notes that are in both scales

then that's just six different notes and

it's a b d e F sharp and G so we're

going to learn those all the way up and

down with this pain that makes it really

clear where they are so I'm on a

twenty-one key accordion by the way if

you've got 23 count them if you're not

sure then you'll have two extra low

notes at the bottom just ignore those

for now so everything I do starting on

my first button you're going to start on

your second but I'm just ignore those

low notes so we're gonna start off with

three pull notes and

and those three next to each other on

the pole on the zero and they'll be

repeated later on so that's always a

pattern so and then if you go up to the

next button up so the fourth button if

you're on a twenty one key like this

we're now gonna get the other three

notes in the scale e F sharp and G and

they're arranged in a triangle like this

so it's a little triangle of notes and

again those are always arranged like

that up and down the keyboard so that's

a common recurring pattern as well and

that's it those are the only two

patterns we need for the scales so we've

got three in a row on the pole and three

in a triangle on the push all we need to

really know is where to start each shape

so a B and D and then we're moving up to

the next button start the push triangle

now that we're into the middle of the

scale it overlaps so that's same button

we've finished on that's gonna be the

start of our next pull shape

hey Big D so we had a baby down here

we've got abd just the same up here

a baby and then again it overlaps so

starting on that same button this time

we're gonna play a e f-sharp G little

triangle on the push and then at the top

we're starting to play another three in

a row soon as we had low down a D and

then there isn't a D button we don't go

that high but that's fine because B is

the highest note that is common in

traditional Irish music that's the

highest note you're gonna meet very much

really I can think of like one or two

tunes that have a high C in so again

that's a note you could always learn

later on but we're not really going to

need it much so that scale all the way

up from the bottom a we move to the next

button overlap same button same but I'm

starting on the next button so you can

just use your top two fingers

okay so work on that until you can play

it fluently all the way up and just go

for a slow steady speed and we might

find really helpful is if you try and do

that naming the notes as you play them


then that really helps you know

internalize what the notes are and yeah

you start to really associate the button

and the note with the name which is

helpful whether you're going to read

music or not because even if you're

learning everything by ear it's good to

know the names of the notes you're

playing helps with communication with

other musicians and so on so once you're

okay playing that up from the bottom to

the top try playing it back down the

other way okay up and down so those six

notes are by far the most common in all

traditional Irish music and there's

loads of tunes that just use those notes

so some really common teams for

beginners to learn that just use those

would be the britches full of stitches

peg Ryan's or Egan's polka the

blackthorn stick the cash out on the

ocean saddle the pony and a little thing

Banshee and Temperley bit so most of

those tunes are really the G or a minor

which to the most common keys and yeah

it's quite common for tunes in those

keys to just not use the C so the C is

part of the G Major scale or the a minor

scale but there's loads of change that

just don't use it and so with just those

six notes you can get off to a good

start learned quite a few tunes okay and

then we're going to put one more note in

the scale right in the middle that will

then let us play another you know few

hundred tune

so the only note we're going to add in

is C and we're just gonna write in this

C so there is a see down here there is a

see up here we're not going to add those

into the scale that we're learning for

now just because those are very rarely

used whereas the one in the middle is

used a lot so all you're gonna do to

change what you're already doing is on

your way up this group of three pull

notes say B so the B button it's also C

so it's beyond the pull C on the push so

you play it a big push for C just go

back to pulling for D and you're any



okay so practice it all the way up and

down using just the six common notes and

putting that C in the middle which makes

it into more of like the the real G

major scale a minor scale I mean it's a

slightly it's an artificial scale

because you know we're not really

playing we're not playing the C's at the

top and the bottom for starters and

we're playing it for just the part of

the scale that's useful to us rather

than doing like one octave of the scale

or two octaves of a scale we're just

starting at low E which is the lowest

common note ending at high B which is

the highest common note so that's the

second scale and and that one's gonna

open up let's see other tunes to you

that are common for beginners learn all

of the bali desmond polkas blarney

pilgrim just be windowsills Jim Ward's

jig off to California Sally Gardens so

all of those use just the notes covered

there in that scale okay and then we've

got one more we're gonna do which is to

add in c-sharp so this makes it into

more of a proper D major scale and again

D major really common key for Irish

music so this will let you play all of

those tunes

also most tunes in E minor or B minor

use the seven notes so the note we're

going to add in now is c-sharp

and we're going to add in two of them we

are gonna have one low c-sharp and the

c-sharp in the middle looks both those

are fairly commonly used now the way I

think of this is instead of the three in

a line we've now got kind of a square

root sign so a but that shape anyway

square root sign I think of it okay so

you're a B and D are still saying maybe

but you've got c-sharp in between the B

and the D yes she is the same G and then

again we've got and G and again there is

a c-sharp up here but I can't think of

any tunes that use that note so I

wouldn't bother on that for now just a B

so coming down that scale from the top

you've got the okay and that's all the

tunes you need for all the notes you

need for most D major tunes so that will

let you play John Ryan's polka Boys of

Blue Hill commitments rambles core corn

Pike drowsy Maggie and made behind bar

Mary blacksmith tripping up the stairs

so the Spear musical priests and wise

made and loads and loads more so that's

yeah that's my way of learning the

geography of the where the notes are up

and down the keyboard practice that bit

if it helps you but the yeah the

important thing to remember is keep

learning tunes as well don't think I'll

spend some time just learning these

scales going up and down get straight on

with using them to learn tunes whether

you're reading or doing it by ear and it

doesn't really matter still just you

know be learning tunes use those scales

try to be aware of what notes you're

playing when you learn tunes

even if you're learning something

completely by ear you're not looking at

sheet music no one's telling you the

name of the notes still just think I'll

what notice this tune start on what's

this note I'm playing now you know try

and be aware of how what you're playing

relates to the notes up and down or even

just noticing how it fits for the shapes

so there might be a part of a tomb where

you just think oh I've just used that

push triangle up there or part of the

push triangle and then come down the

three in a row


there's a lot of the places where yeah

you'll just find it running up and down

those shapes so good to be really

familiar with them okay I hope that

helps you and leave me a comment let me

know if it did or not and yeah if anyone

can think of any tunes that are only fit

within one octave of a major scale like

G up to G in a major scale or DFT in a

major scale

be interested know about any of those so

let me know in the comments thanks very