Bandoneon Tutors

Tutors are called in Spanish usually métodos. Since the bandoneon was nearly forgotten during many years, it is hard to find métodos for the bandoneon today. I hope this will change in the near future. If you find one, please be sure it is suitable for your instrument. The methods found in Germany are thought for the 144 voice Einheitsbandoneon while those from Argentina are based on the 142 voice version. In case you are not sure about the differences, please refer to the Keyboard section. I do not know about tutors for unisonoric instruments.

The first tutors were probably introduced by Heinrich Band and which were hold in German. The first translated publication is known to be Carl Ullrich's Neueste practische Schule für 64, 70, 88, 100 und 130 töniges Bandonion in deutscher und englischer Schrift published by Verlag F. W. Wolff, Mainz in 1877. and which was translated by Alfred Band into French in 1895. The other popular Self-Instructor for Bandonion by Otto Luther appeared first in 1890, then in 1892 in two languages (not Spanish) at Verlag Julius Heinrich Zimmermann in Leipzig, the same as his Table of Fingering. Since this tutor came together with many instruments of different manufacturers, it is clear that it reached many countries in the world.

At the Rio de la Plata there were no printed tutors available at that time. Instead the accordion and other primitive harmonica instruments were available since about 1850 in these countries. The repertory was limited to folk music including waltzes, polkas and mazurkas, particularly influenced by the tutors coming with the instruments and which contained music of the country of origin. The composition Tango No 1 of 1883 by Jorge Machado, a coloured virtuoso on his instrument, is perhaps the first hint for the use of a harmonica instrument in tango music. A tutor for accordion in Spanish is known from 1886: Método teórico-práctico de acordeón by Emilio Yerba y Piqué, at Romero, Madrid and Hug, Basel.

On the other hand it is known that an auto didactic teaching by mail ``correspondencia'' was offered by the coloured Sebastián Ramos Mejía at his facultad de bandoneón in Montevideo in 1890 like Arturo Bernstein's instituto or Jesús Pérez academia de bandoneón in Buenos Aires. This mail service was used by many later famous bandoneonists.
It served the new generation of tango musicians to develop during the last decade of the 19th century a technical basis. Among these musicians were Sebastián Vázques, Domingo Repetto, Antonio Chiappe and the legendary Sebastián Ramos Mejia. Arturo Bernstein (El Alemán, * Petrópolis, Brazil 17-Nov-1882, + Buenos Aires 20-Sep-1935), son of German immigrants with a solid musical education, developed the educational basis for the bandoneon near the beginning of the century. A prominent pupil, Carlos Marcucci (Bs.As. 30-Oct-1903 - 31-May-1957) and Félix Lípesker were who prepared from his material, the first printed edition in Spanish.

Bandoneon Tutors

There existed even more tutors created by Sebastián Ramos Mejía, Antonio Ríos, Edgardo Pedroza.

Mon Bando 1 speelstukjes voor bandoneon by Pieter van Dijck is a very nice approach to the instrument. The 17 exercises written by the Dutch author and fingered for the 142 voice Argentine layout instrument, introduces the beginner starting with a limited number of notes and which are increased gradually. The bisonority of the instrument is applied appropriately. The exercises are also recorded on a separate audio CD which may be used as an additional aid.

More advanced pupils may learn just by playing pieces which are not too difficult. Some two voice pieces from the Notenbüchlein für Anna Magdalena Bach adapted and fingered for bandoneon by Beat Muggli, Niederlenz, Switzerland, are an excellent exercise.

Learn by Your Own

The first step of all, and a very difficult, is to learn the keyboard. I used some exercises with a narrow range of notes first. Beginners' exercises for piano are a good alternative if you don't have original ones. You can learn fairly fast using only one hand. Learn all the notes for both bellow senses and by separate. The coordination of both hands simultaneously is far more difficult. While you progress learning the keys you can choose exercises with more notes. Later play simple but real pieces to learn the handling of the bellow. The bellow is not an air pump and has a prominent importance in getting the real sound. All the first exercises should be played as legato. To learn this you may play a scale holding every note as long as you can but with constant intensity. Imagine you are playing a cello. Always check if your are completely relaxed!

Here some recommendations of Felix Lipesker given in his HANON, adaptado y digitado para bandoneón, Edition JULIO KORN (I'm not sure if it is still available, my personal issue is of 1958):

  1. find a comfortable sitting position and avoid a rigid body
  2. press the buttons with the finger tips deep to the bottom by moving only the lids
  3. don't press the button near the edge
  4. avoid lifting the fingers too much, they must be kept close to the keyboard
  5. work each exercise by separate hands. First learn one hand and then the other. Once you are sure with each part, start playing both hands together
  6. don't go to the next exercise until you are not secure with the preceding
  7. the fragment which causes the greatest difficulties has to be studied by separate
  8. every exercise has to be played in the indicated tempo. You must reach the final part with the same speed as you started
  9. since the fingers 4 and 5 are the weakest, use them more frequently to make them as strong as number 2 and 3
  10. don't work more hours as you can support and divide the time making recreation periods for the muscles and the brain

Contributions on learning the bandoneon were provided by many volunteers. Thank you for this valuable work!

Bandoneon Technique

The bandoneonist Amijai Shalev from Pitango has written an article on the Bandoneon Technique specially for those who need to learn by their own.

The contact address for Amijai Shalev is found in the article.

Auxiliary Material

Learning the keyboard and the basic chords takes it's time. It is not a surprise that students try to find ways to shorten the proces. In this place contributions from people giving their experience are presented: keyboard layout, chord tables, learning tools, and also a game!

Besides the traditional 142 voice layout there are other systems. See also the Keyboard Systems.

Leschewitz Chord Tables

Several tutors come along with chord tables showing up a keyboard layout and where the buttons to play are enhanced. Most of them list a pair of chords; the tonica and it's dominant, both to play in different sense of bellow. Since the key pattern is not the same for all tones, learning the chords takes a longer period of time and each student finds its own way to learn them.

Thanks to from Brazil who prepared a table containing chords for the bisonor bandoneon pdf (pdf) based on the button coding of the instrument. (original Word Document)

Santato Chords Collection

has prepared a chord collection for the 142 voice bandoneon. He makes it available from his original site compressed.gif to all bandoneon students.

It consists of The Bandoneon Chords Tutor pdf (16MB) and a blank keyboard layout pdf to print out and make your own annotations.

The Seguro Layout and Chords Tables

from Costa Rica has kindly provided his set of chords for the 142 voice bandoneon named Bandoneón, Graficos de los Teclados y Acordes

The Zisman Layout

Michael Zisman has elaborated an other version of the 142 voice bandoneon keyboard layout. Versions showing the vertical view (1.7 MB) and the horizontal view (1.6 MB) are available.

The Piquinela PC learning Tool

has prepared a PC program which helps you to learn the keyboard of a bisonoric 142 voice instrument. It consists of three units based on Toolbook and allows even to hear the sound if you have a midi device. After downloading the heavy document, a setup program installs the utility. Please direct your questions directly to the author.
download Win version compressed.gif (5.3 MB)

The web based version (2001) of the Keyboard Tutor requires the Beatnik Player to hear the sound.

Le Bandonote Memorizing Game

, student at the music school in Gennevilliers, France, created the game Le Bandonote (1.2 MB). The aim of this game is to help memorizing the 142 voice bandoneon keyboard. The presented version is in French.

On-Line Keyboard Layout

Keyboard Layout of the 142 voice Bandoneon (Nico Kaiser)

(german, spanish, english)
last update: 2016-12-10

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