Bulgarian Accordion Tutorial - Technical Drills

This page presents technical drills for practicing and perfecting the techniques described in the tutorial. See the tutorial lessons for explainations of all terms used.

My descriptions of technique in the lessons are (probably inevitably) less sophisticated than the "understanding" your hands develop in executing them. Use slow tempo drills to play with mechanical ideas and experiment. Ingraining good mechanics comes from relaxed, controlled, slow to moderate speed execution. Fast execution demonstrates ability, but does not build it.

Each drill consists of repetitions of a 1-4 measure motif. Pause before each execution of the motif to imagine the necessary mechanics. Start at extremely slow tempo. Avoid the temptation to continuously accelerate. Instead, maintain constant tempo during a single motif. When you feel comfortable with your execution, bump up the tempo for the next motif. Alternatively, if the mechanics become unclear or shakey, reduce tempo for the next motif to clarify. Take as much time as you need between motif repetitions to be clear on your intent.

The range of transpositions of each drill is typical of what I use. Feel free to use a narrower or wider range of transposition as suits your need.

Key Depression

Use this drill to practice drawing strokes with the thumb and fingers 2-5. Pause at each fermata to collect your thoughts for each measure before execution. The connection 1-2 is the most important, since that mechanism directly affects prall-triplet execution.

The above drill is drawn from Hanon's "The Virtuoso Pianist". Many of Hanon's drills are good for key depression practice. Another of my favorites is below. Here note the different mechanics between 1-2 and 1-3 connections.

Once you feel comfortable with the above drills as written (in C), transpose them to other keys to practice black key depression. Keys I use typically include, F, G, A, Bb, B, C, D, Eb and E.

Prall Triplets with Thumb Alternate

Here strive to create consistent mechanics, so that each prall triplet is executed from the same starting position. As you move up the scale, the angling of the hand must be adjusted appropriately.

In the drill below, note the different angle of thumb withdrawal between the first prall triplet in each measure (thumb on same note) and the second (thumb a step below).

Once the above exercise is comfortable, try the reduced version. This motif is used in Boris Karlov's "Radino horo".

The exercise below alternates a melodic motif (1st half of each measure) with a prall-triplet (2nd half). As you move up the scale, use proper hand angling for good execution of the prall triplet.

Prall Triplets with Finger 3 Alternate

While the drill below varys only slightly from the one above, the mechanics are very different due to the preparation of the prall using finger 3. See the lesson titled "More Pralls" for details.

Pralls/Trills with Finger 4 Alternate

In this drill, we prepare the ornament with finger 4. It follows the same principles as with finger 3 above, but requires its own practice. Take care to softly depress finger 2 on the pralls, rather than to hammer it, as is a temptation when connecting from finger 4.

Prall Triplets with Mobile Hand

In this drill the hand is constantly repositioning for the next prall. Hand angling changes within each motif between the 1st and 2nd prall. Also, each motif transposition uses different angles than the last, due to changing black key geometry.

Note: This drills sounds weird when diminished 5ths appear (3rd and 7th iterations). To remedy this, use F# instead of F and C# instead of C in those transpositions.

Copyright 2015 Erik Butterworth. All rights reserved.