Learning to Play Accordion

We’ve been seeing a lot of encouraging signs that the accordion is gaining popularity — one of which is a sharp increase in emails from people who want to learn how to play the accordion. Even better, we keep finding new resources to help them get started. Here are a few we’ve uncovered recently…

Accordion lesson books have always been a popular topic on our site and recently I’ve had a couple accordion teachers recommend a relatively new series from Santorella Publications. Written by Jay Latulippe, Santorella’s three book series isn’t as deep as the venerable Palmer-Hughes series (which has ten), but it includes more contemporary styles and each book comes with a companion CD. Santorella also publishes two diatonic button accordion lesson books (also with CDs) by Henry Doktorski.

Books are great, but working directly with an accordion teacher is even better. For those who can’t find a local teacher, Duane Schnur’s online accordion lessons may be the next best thing. Recently retired, Duane taught accordion for nearly forty years and has decided to “give something back” in the form of these free downloadable lessons. There are forty-six lessons available so far; each includes a PDF with sheet music and an MP3 of Duane leading the lesson.

For visual learners, the rise of YouTube has made it incredibly easy to find and share lesson videos online. For instance, I’ve always struggled with the bellows shake, but thanks to this video from Australian accordionist Dave Evans, I’m well on my way to becoming the next Dick Contino.

Finally, readers may have noticed the link to Debra Peters’ The ABC’s of Accordion Basics lesson DVDs on our site. We’ll do a full review of her DVDs in a future post, but if you’re looking for an introduction to rock and blues accordion, there’s no better place to start.

Have you come across a particularly good accordion lesson book, video, or other learning aid recently? Leave a comment and let us know.


  1. For the last 9 or so months, I have been using Neil Griffin’s book, “You Can Teach Yourself Accordion” (Mel Bay).

  2. Hey Chris :)
    I am using the mel bay book Emil mentions – AND one by alfreds publishing with about the same title by Miriam Davidson…. theyre good enuff, BUT… if you aren’t into old fart type music and want something a bit more up to date those santorelli’s sounds great. I might be getting those myself!
    And yeah – I have both of Debras’ dvds – and they ARE good – but NOT really absolute beginners stuff, there are assumptions inferred in them that a total beginner would NOT understand. Theory type and note readin type stuff that assumes you have gotten at least past the 1st 2 palmer hughs books (?) but she has one bit that really helps – the camera focuses on her HANDS when she is showing something so you can see where and when she does it…and like you said theyre great additions to the teach yourself books I use now cause they give me hope that I can eventually play something besides biuts of classical and folk :P
    But that’s my 2 cents wotth – for what that’s worth

  3. Accordions are definitely on the rise! I’m not kidding when I say I’ve seen at least 20 commercials on TV with accordion music in it. @_@

  4. *them

    Sorry, I can’t stand my own typos. XD

  5. I have enjoyed how well thought out the Aretta series is. I am in book 7 and believe the series has 9 or 10 books in total.

    Many students have expressed their gratitude for my accordion flashcards. I’m glad to provide this product for those who find it useful.

  6. Hi I started a blog a while ago documenting my accordion journey and trying to share what I learn. It is not as well written as yours yet but I try to improve.

    To check it out click “Learn accordion blog” below.

  7. Thanks for sharing! Looks good so far!

  8. So I send an email to Walter Ostanek asking why there is no “how to play polka on piano accordion” videos that I can find and does he know or any. He does not answer, OK Walter is a busy guy. — But — how does polka on the accordion stay alive if there are no instructional videos to get the beginners into the music.
    I mean instructional videos that you can find for button accordion, guitar, mandolin, fiddle, etc, etc. So take me from the basics of the instrument to simple tunes, to more advanced tunes, to special techniques tips and tricks with play alongs and so on and so on.

  9. Duane Schnur really is a great teacher. All his lessons are free too. I’ve been taking his lessons online for over a year and I can play many songs. It starts out quite simple. I think the first two lessons are mostly just how to hold the accordion and how to read the music.
    So far by Jan 2010 he has over 80 lessons displayed. I’ve gotten to lesson 53 by doing almost one lesson a week. I believe he wants to get well over a hundred to hundred fifty lessons online for free. If anyone has questions about accordion playing, or his lessons, he will answer them on his chat mail icon.
    I’m a recent retiree and if I can start to learn the accordion at age 70 I believe that most anyone who tries hard will succeed in mastering the piano accordion by following Duane’s Lessons (they’re based on the Sedlon Teaching Technique). Good Luck ! ! ! or as they say in Spain, ‘Bueno Suerte’.

  10. Thank you very much. Bookmarked…

  11. me encantaria mas informacion sobre las formas del aprendisaje,estoy deseoso de aprender bien en forma.