Selecting an Accordion Teacher
Want to sound like a pro? Then learn from a pro! It's that simple.
Learning the accordion is challenging -- why not give yourself every advantage? Overcoming poor habits after they are learned is next to impossible, so learn things correctly in the first place. Enjoy the thrill of rapid correct learning and playing your best with lessons from a qualified professional teacher.
What pro qualifications should you look for?
- Years of teaching experience? Not enough! Many experiened instructors have limited performace skills and will teach you all their bad habits!
- Solid performace skills? Not enough! Many highly skilled players have limited teaching experience with no insight to teaching various skill levels.
- Both performace skills and teching experience? Not enough! Many experienced instructors with solid performance skills will teach you to imitate rather than understand, because they do not understand harmony, music composition or even lead sheets.
- Performace skills, teaching experience, and music background? Still not enough! Teachers who are skilled in only a few musical styles teach you to be a one-dimensional player. Even if you don't intend to play many styles, your teacher should! This way you will get the correct nuance and characteristic of the styles you choose.
You will get the best results (which is the whole point of lessons!) with a teacher who:
- Is not only a solid performer themselves, but a true virtuoso performer
- Has decades of teaching success at all levels, beginner through professional
- Has a formal background in music theory and proven skills in composition and arranging
- Teaches a broad range of musical styles
These four skills areas should each be achieved at a professional level. Given the availability of accordion teachers online, you can afford to be selective. Be sure to evaluate your teacher before you choose.
Caution SignsThere are warning signs to look for with accordion lessons:
- Your teacher doesn't listen to you. If the lesson format has you listening to a canned lesson, but you aren't given the opportunity to be listened to at every lesson then it isn't really a lesson. This type of lesson may as well be "read this book and play the accordion"--not really a lesson at all. It is impossible to teach yourself even though some books say you can. The stories I can tell! A professional teacher listens carefully to you at every lesson to assess problem areas and mistakes early. The old saying "practice makes perfect" is wrong, it should be "practice makes permanent"--so how long to you want to practice a bad habit before your teacher notices? And how long will it be if your teacher isn't even listening?
- Your teacher has no accountability. How do you know if this is the case? If your teacher gives away lessons as YOUTUBE posts or offers free posted lessons in some other format, then they really don't know when they loose a student. They are not really accountable to their students. Amatuers give away their lessons for fun (or ego) -- professionals charge a fee because they are ... professional and accountable!
Accordion Teacher Qualification Checklist
for Gary Dahl
Widely known as a virtuoso accordionist and accomplished band leader
Decades of experience at all levels, not just beginners. Gary's students have won national and state competitions as well as achieving professional status.
A graduate of the University of Washington specializing in composition and theory. He has an impressive body of work including hundreds of individual arrangements, original compositions, and more than a dozen books currently in publication. He literally wrote book!
Has written books and teaches covering jazz, Cajun, zydeco, Latin, polka, ragtime, waltz, tango, and more.