The Best Beginner Tunes for Irish Button Accordion
Published: November 2, 2020
Every musician wants to start out with the best tunes for their instrument. Not all tunes are universal though. A beginner fiddle tune for example might be far more challenging to play on an accordion, and vice versa.
No one wants to waste their time struggling to learn the wrong tunes when the right repertoire can be learned far more easily in half the time. That’s why I’ve put together this handy guide with three specially tailored recommendations for all the Irish button accordion enthusiasts out there.
With these beginner tunes under your belt, you’ll be well on your way to building a great repertoire of Irish accordion tunes. So what are you waiting for? Let’s get started.
What Makes the Ideal Beginner Accordion Tune?
When you first start learning to play tunes on the Irish button accordion you’ll want to limit your finger movement until you’re feeling more comfortable with the layout of the fingerboard.
The tunes below progress slowly, each tune will gradually extend the range of notes and movement required. You’ll notice that the first two jigs contain plenty of repeated notes to aid with this.
These learner-friendly tunes also require limited bellows movement, making them a great choice for beginner accordion players.
The Hole in the Hedge Jig
The Hole in the Hedge is a hugely popular jig that can conveniently be played using only the inner row of buttons on the keyboard.
This is a hugely popular session tune but don’t worry about getting it up to speed just yet. Here it is played at a lovely lilting pace by master fiddle player Martin Hayes. He shows us that we don’t have to play tunes at a breakneck pace to enjoy all they have to offer:
The Geese in the Bog Jig
The Geese in the Bog is another jig that can be played entirely on the inner row of buttons.
The version notated here includes an F# (F sharp) in the second part, which lives on the outer row. But if you substitute it for the note E instead (which is located on the inner row), then you won’t need to move to the outer row at all.
The F# in the second part is a passing note, so it’s not a structural part of the melody meaning you can change it without altering the sound too much.
In other words, don’t worry this won’t change the overall sound of the tune and plenty of people learn it like this!
Here it is played on one of my favourite button accordions, the beautiful Beltuna Sara 3:
The Little Diamond Polka
My third recommendation, The Little Diamond Polka is a little more challenging but will give you a good workout in the key of D major. It’s particularly helpful for getting your fingers used to common patterns that feature in hundreds of other tunes. This will develop invaluable muscle memory that will stand to you in your future playing.
Here’s a recording that’s a bit too lively for a beginner to play along with right away, but will give you an idea of the wonderful lift and energy this simple polka has to offer:
If you’ve mastered all three tunes included in this post, congratulations! You’re well on your way to being session ready.
The most important thing you can do now is listen to as much traditional Irish music as possible.
If you’re itching to learn more tunes and expand your knowledge and repertoire however, I highly recommend the brilliant Foinn Seisiún 1. In addition to the book, there’s also an accompanying CD which features recordings of each of the tunes. With these tools in hand, you’ll be a master of the accordion in no time at all!
For more information on the Irish button accordion, why not check out my Beginner’s Guide to the Irish Button Accordion.
Alternatively, if you haven’t purchased your new beginner accordion yet, and you’re finally feeling motivated, take a look at our online accordion store. You can browse our full range of beginner accordions – each designed to cater for the needs of beginner musicians.
[Featured image: Music Generation]
Best way ever to learn irish music on YouTube!!!..
I started learning the B/C accordion five months ago, and I wouldn't recommend any of these tunes to beginners.
I find jumping across the keyboard much harder than changing the bellows direction, so my recommendation for beginner tunes is: Keep the range small, and stick to one scale (Gmaj/Emin).
My first tunes were Britches Full of Stitches (in G), Fanny Power and Rose of Raby (in Emin).
Another recommendation, if you've played Irish tunes on another instrument before, start on the accordion with tunes you already know, and don't worry about sheet music.
Thank you for these wonderful beginner melodies.
Playing the melody is easy to learn. In my opinion, when playing the button accordion, it is only the combination with cords and basses that leads to the very beautiful sound.
Do you have any advice how to get the chords and basses right, what combination of melody and chords/basses notes sound good, which ones should I avoid?