First practice!

April 24, 2016

OK, so I caved a bit… but it was in a good way!

I really wanted to start the first practice with the Hohner, but since life gave me lemons, I decided to make lemonade.  In easier terms, I did my first practice today using the Elka instead of the Hohner.  It took me an extra day to come to the decision, but I’ve been holding off starting for too long.

I am not going to lie and tell you that it didn’t feel good because it felt great, but the session was only about 30 minutes in length and yet it was brutal.  No songs as I said.  Instead I covered about 6 pages of exercises from 3 books (standard Stradella bass style accordion exercise books), and repeated each exercise about 8-10 times.

All the first issues were still there… the stiffness, the lack of knowing where I was on the keyboard, the lack of muscle memory, there was zero proper bellows control and my hands felt as if I had been holding on hard to a vibrating washing machine for an hour, and the fingers of the right hand in particular felt a bit numbed fatigued and all I did was give it a bit of a light push in terms of effort.  It’s ok, I was kind of expecting this and the feeling past in just a few minutes.

The straps felt really uncomfortable, too loose, and when I tightened them, they still felt wrong, unbalanced and no matter how I adjusted them, they felt wrong.  These were the Neotech straps, the mid-range thinner ones.  In particular, as I worked the bellows, the shoulder part stretched, making me work harder than I should have been to get the same sounds out.  I think that I am going to go back to the traditional leather straps that are wider and thicker.  Three inches wide on the shoulder sounds about right for me.  I’ll look around for a great set of straps, place those on the Hohner, and the ones on the Hohner go on to the Elka, that’s going to be the best solution all around.

oh, one thing that I noticed a couple of times and had to correct for.  As I started to really concentrate and read the music as I played, several times I found myself hunched over and kind of  balled up.  A really bad posture, one that I will have to pay attention to, we don’t want this to become a habit!

I also spent a couple hours going through the electronics part of my setup.  Things like:

  • eliminating ground loops
  • replacing the smaller monitors with larger ones that sounded a bit better
  • installing and testing the M-Audio MIDI adapter
  • installing and testing Reaper (a new audio recording program)

… and a couple of other things which basically made me feel better about my setup.  I have a few ideas and things that I may want to change later (like changing the monitors for full sized speakers), but for now, its working adequately for where I am at the time.

You must excuse me now, I am going to go back downstairs and play a little more!

Saturday, July 25, 2016:

I’ve since improved a nice little amount over that first day, but to be honest, I have not put in that many hours.  The muscle memory is starting to return, the cement blocks that are my fingers have loosened up a little, but there is so much more room for improvement.

While my right hand has improved, my left hand is where things are really not improving at the same speed.  Stradella bass stuff never was a great challenge, but the Free Bass work is quite ugly.  Seems that I am not going to have the advantage there of having past experience like with the right hand, and am pretty much forced to start quite literally from scratch.

Though it does bother me that I have lost all left-handed Free Bass skills (and honestly, the amount of time spent on Free Bass has truly been minimal in comparison), I am able to play and occupy myself by preparing and recording music that pleases me.  Each jingle and song always has some little story and I am now playing for a different audience… myself and here and there, also for my mother.

That said, those Free Bass skills will improve with time and effort as I slowly complete these non-Free Bass projects and focus on adding a little more Free Bass projects slowly over time.

Maybe some time for a little bit of that grim determination again as well?  Cannot hurt!  🙂

Tomorrow is my 56th birthday, maybe I will “waste some time”  by going downstairs and just spend a bit of it  playing and enjoying my accordion!

5:32 PM 4/10/2016