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The Organic Tango School
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My Bando Blog

Hi everyone, I will use this blog to chronicle my bandoneon learning and playing experiences from time to time!  Hope you enjoy reading and perhaps (for some novice players) this will provide some form of inspiration or guidance.
  • 22 Mar 2012 6:08 PM | Homer G Ladas (Administrator)
    Just for memory sake, I decided to make a solo student video...enjoy!

  • 27 Nov 2011 2:57 PM | Homer G Ladas (Administrator)
    Well it's been a few months now and I've had about 7 or 8 online bandoneon lessons.  My teacher's name is Aude.  She's very good at using the full potential of Skype to communicate her thoughts and also to monitor/support my progress.  I've learned a lot of little details that I was never aware of.  It's really amazing how subtle some of the material can be but how it can make a huge difference in my playing.  

    To be honest with you, thought, I'm happy I had over a year to 'just play' with my bandoneon developing.  Now I can really compare (hear and feel) the differences as I adapt new (proper) playing techniques.

    I'll keep folks posted on my progress...right now I can only say that I need many more hours of refinement (playing scales, learning how to use the bellows - including general air control, open to close transitions, dynamics, staccato vs legato, etc).  And for the time being Aude seems to always open a new door of understanding with every lesson!

    Hugs, Homer ;)
  • 31 Jul 2011 2:41 AM | Homer G Ladas (Administrator)
    My last day in Paris and I've been very reflective on what I'm currently feeling wrt my bandoneon practice...  Here's an attempt to summarize my thoughts.

    Well, I've been learning bandoneon for about 1.75 years now (almost two years).  I'm straddling the 1000 to 2000 hour mark (probably somewhere in-between as opposed to either end) of practice time.  As is known in most education circles it takes about 10,000 hours to begin to master something...  Perhaps you could say that I'm at the end of the beginner phase and the beginning of the intermediate phase (just my personal self-assessment)? 

    Up to this point I've been moving from one practice idea to the next so as not to get to overwhelmed or focused.  As you may know the bandoneon is not an easy instrument to learn how to play.  It's been a very good and productive way to have fun while learning how to play bandoneon.  And, I've learned alot.  You can read my first post in 'My Bando Blog' to see what methods I've employed.  I still recommend these learning techniques for new bandoneon enthusiasts!

    As it is with all things in life, however, I've reached the point where I've learned just how much I don't know and just how much there is really to learn (at least another 8500 hours worth of effort).  This is a very natural part of learning and I knew it would just be a function of time before I arrived at this position.  It's important to also refine this 10,000 hour rule with the idea that correct practice is necessary.  Practicing something wrong for 10,000 will still be wrong (and lead to anti-mastery if you will).  I'm not actually sure how much of my initial time was spent practicing in a good and productive way.  I do feel, however, that most of it was spent getting to know my instrument in a fun and mostly productive way (maybe 1000 hours or so?). 

    So while I still embrace my initial learning techniques it's time to get more focused and find a guide that will help me approach the next 2000 hours of practice (1 to 2 years effort).  In essence, I'm looking for a teacher, that I can develop a relationship with, who will help me stay focused and develop my bandoneon skills to the next level or two.  Specifically I'm interesting in cleaning up my current technique and also learning how to be more efficient at self-study.  I've approached my friend and bandoneon player-teacher Ben Bogart ( for consultation.  He has a suggestion (teacher recommendation and approach) that I will follow-up on and report back (in the next bando blog).  Note, I will make sure that learning is still fun (using points from my first bando blog) while trying to incorporate a little more structure to this next level of learning...

    Stay tuned for more info!

    Hugs for now, Homer ;)
  • 16 Jun 2011 6:13 AM | Homer G Ladas (Administrator)

    Here's an edited and expanded email reply to Giovianni who is also a community member of The Organic Tango School.  Giovanni owns a bandoneon but is frustrated with the learning process.  This is my two-cent reply with my own advice and experience learning how to play bandoneon (and I'm still learning)...  It is by no means a profession view point.  Please consult many people (teachers, experienced players, etc, before you embark on your on musical studies).

    As a preface to everything I'd like to say that if you're not totally in love with, and really want to play, bandoneon then nothing will really help you learn and stay with it.  Fortunately for me I'm in love with both traditional tango music and Astor Piazzolla.  In general, I also want to help promote highly danceable  live tango music for social tango dancers with the eventual creation of many large community orchestras around the world.  So everything pushes me to keep learning and practicing!

    Here's the email reply to Giovanni:

    Hi Giovanni, I read a great book called "Practice Makes Perfect"

    Here's the actual link (

    If nothing else it is very inspirational to get you focused.

    Also, it has many ideas/games/techniques so you don't get board. 

    It's hard to learn how to play bando.  I do not recommend any method book.  Most are for very advanced musicians and are very dry and boring (if you're a beginner).  Later in your practice you can play pieces from these method books but even then it's still kind of dry.  I only found one piece in one method book (Don Benito) that I use a daily warm-up.

    I recommend to have fun, pick a tango song like 'Malena' (from Ben Bogart's free lead sheets) and slowly learn the melody on the right side opening...  While you're doing that, slowly learn to play the chromatic scale opening on the right.  Then work on the left opening chromatic.  For the left opening I also recommend learning some easy chords (G, G-, A, A-, E, E-, D, D- etc) first.

    Basically, I'd have about 10 things you like to do and just do them randomly and at will so you don't get board and change your activity when you get frustrated.  The best practice for me as a beginner was learning a few songs on the right hand opening.  That gave me the most satisfaction.

    Later, you can get more formal in your studies.  However, after 1.5 years of learning, I'm still jumping around a little bit, although I have my favorite things I like to practice and try to go deeper each time...  As you get more maturity in your practice you learn the difference between just playing and actually practicing.  The aforementioned book "Practice Makes Perfect" explains all that.

    The final thing I can recommend is to play with other musicians.  No matter how bad it sounds you'll have fun.  If you learn a melody or two on the right opening and if you learn most of the major minor chords on the left opening you can at least play accompaniment (chords) with a group and perhaps a line of melody here and there.  That was the most satisfying experience for me.  However, don't perform for dancers yet, just play with a group in private.  Later, the next step, would be to play for tango dancers - that's really exciting...

    If you're very lucky (as I have been) you will also run across bandoneon players in your travels or daily life who are willing and able to share with you little secrets.  I have lots of admiration and thanks to give to a half dozen or so bandoneon friends and acquaintances who have given me that little bit of inspiration and advice to continue playing (and practicing)!  Thanks to Adrian Jost, Korey Ireland, Ben Bogart, Christian Gerber, and to several others I've met along the journey of learning how to play the bandoneon.

    Hope this helps, many hugs, Homer ;)


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