Thank you Dale or whatever cosmic powers started an accordion forum!
So anyway, I notice that there are many questions from box newbies, most of which I was also asking when I started a couple years back.
Since I am lazy and also feel like pontificating, I will cram all my button box wisdon into just one post.
Here's what I worried about when I got started:
The B/C vs. C#/D question...
Scary! It's scary because it seems like a huge commitment to one system or another, often (as in my case) without much opportunity to borrow an instrument and try it out. It felt like having to choose a religion or a mail-order bride sight unseen.
I went with B/C simply because I found a good price on a Castagnari. It was reassuring that some great players like John Williams and Mick McCauley are B/C players, but then again Jackie Daly is the first one I ever heard live, and he is C#/D.
My own opinion is that it comes down to the individual tune; some moves are inconvenient in one tuning and fit handily in the other. The opening riff of "Music for a Found Harmonium" will take a long time to get right on a B/C due to the quick bellows changes. But the very next section is wonderfully easy on B/C, and hard as heck on a C#/D. So there it is.
Irish style box is weird because the notes change as the bellows change direction. You can approach this by either:
A. Thinking about it all the time, or
B. Just practicing until things become rote.
I recommend B. Go very slow and repeat things many many times. The hardest part is getting the bellows to behave, and not have to thing about it.
A good trick I learned was leaving out any hard notes (esp. F#'s between D and A, due to bellows direction) until I knew the rest of the piece really well. After that it's easier to introduce the hard note.
Also, getting a steady rhythm is even more important (dare I say this?) than playing the right notes. I was at Yale Univ. back in February and got to play in a session with John Whelan. He let me borrow his old Cardin B/C box. Well, he soundly rebuked me for playing too fast and not rhythmically enough. Point taken.
And what about the bass side? The bass side is really cool, and John Williams has some great demonstrations on his video, but you should really wait until the tune side is comfy before worrying about it. I listened in one time when the box player from Teada was teaching this little boy a jig, and he said he didn't touch the bass side for years when he was young.
If you feel daring, you might take the thirds out of your chords, especially E and A, which you will want as either major or minor (without thirds they can serve as either). This can be done with a screwdriver and masking tape. Again, you'll hear this sound on John Williams' video.
Another cool thing is to learn simple primary chords (I IV and V) in a few different keys by combining a few tune side notes with bass side notes. Then you can accompany vast numbers of songs without having to learn the tune. It is also an opportunity to enjoy the marvelous legato sound of the box when it isn't changing bellows direction every eighth note.
That's about all I know.
You can hear a sound clip or two in which my Castagnari is audible (dry tuning by the way) at this address if you want:
http://people.cedarville.edu/employee/m ... merits.htm