Learn to Play the Diatonic Button Accordion/Melodeon By-Ear Confidently with Both Hands Using The Mel Method

As an aspiring melodeon player, which of these statements do you identify with the most?

“I’ve recently bought/inherited a squeezebox and I don’t know where to even begin!”

“I can play tunes on the right hand, but can’t get to grips playing both hands together.”

“It’s such a complicated instrument to fathom – my frustration levels reach boiling point very quickly!”

“It spends more time inside it’s case than lovingly held in my arms.”

Whichever one you chose, I’m certain you’ve already experienced some confusion, frustration and time barriers when it comes to understanding the button box.

The melodeon (or diatonic button accordion to give it its proper name) is not an easy instrument to get your head around as a beginner. Even if you’re using a tutor book; there’s no melodeon teacher to turn to for advice. It’s so overwhelming!

It may often feel there isn’t enough time left for you to get to grips with this devilish instrument. It can leave you floundering and feeling like giving up. That would be such a shame after investing in or inheriting such a beautiful instrument. 

Despite the frustrations, you’ve reached the conclusion that you really do want to play the instrument. You’re not looking to become a virtuoso, but you want to play it well and have fun whilst doing so. It’s always been a dream of yours to do it!

Surely there must be an easier way round this…?


Yes, you read that correctly! Often when people pick up a melodeon as a beginner, they gravitate towards the right hand/treble end ‘where all the notes are’. It is the easiest place to get a tune or melody out of in the first place. 

Learning in this way inevitably sets you up with bad habits which are difficult to rat out later on. And who wants to waste time righting the wrongs?!

When you go back to basics and start learning the melodeon left hand first, you can more easily establish confident rhythmical coordination between right and left hands. 

Simply by using the left hand on it’s own to begin with, you allow yourself to become familiar with the necessary fingering positions and patterns of movements that enable you to accompany your favourite tunes more easily.

Hi, I’m Mel Biggs – expert melodeon teacher with a wealth of knowledge, empathy for others and oodles of patience 

That feeling of being new to something all over again is a feeling I’ve not forgotten in all my years playing and teaching melodeon. I recognise my own experiences in your learning journey – your anxiety, your vulnerability, your frustration. They are part of my journey too. 

These humble realisations have enabled me to hone in on the hang-ups my students experience, and draw from my diverse skill set as a melodeon teacher. I can ease your struggle by offering fabulous online learning content designed with you in mind.

Mel’s Melodeon Teaching Approach: The Mel Method

My teaching approach, handily coined The Mel Method, combines every folk music student’s wish list into 4 neat principles:


Learn to Play By Ear

The most important skill in making music is listening. Through patient guidance you’ll learn how to let your ear guide your fingers.


Learn The Musical Structure

I’ll teach you how to understand some basic musical theory which is essential in building a firm foundation from which to grow.


Learn to Deconstruct

With your newly sharpened listening and music theory skills, I’ll teach you how to simplify a difficult concept into bite-sized pieces of information that are easier to pick up and retain.


Learn to be Mindful

The most important principle of The Mel Method. I’ll teach you to focus your mind away from the chatty brain of everyday life and on the physical aspects of playing the melodeon, helping you to build better muscle memory.

Introducing: Pick Up & Play with Mel Biggs: Let’s Get Started!

I have been able to take what I do in teaching beginners ‘on the ground’, and following the principles of The Mel Method, build a place for you to flourish in my ‘Pick Up & Play with Mel Biggs: Let’s Get Started!’ online course.

Through this online course, I guide you through the basics towards learning your very first tune with both hands. Start by finding out what your instrument is and how it works, then go on to learn about basses, chords and rhythm before learning to play a simple traditional English dance tune with both hands together.

But it doesn’t stop there…

The course teaches you a proven transferable methodology for successfully and confidently learning tunes by ear with both hands which you can use time and time again to build your repertoire.

Busy life? No strife!

Work through the course at your leisure and when it’s convenient for you. An expertly designed self-paced course where each video lesson demonstrates one bite-sized chunk of information. Build your skills and knowledge progressively throughout the course, demystifying previously complex concepts.  

If you’re struggling to work out how to get the most out of your squeezebox by playing with both hands, you can follow my proven methodology, by-pass the time wasted figuring it all out for yourself, and start enjoying stress-free melodeon playing!

What you’ll gain from this online course:

  • Access expert knowledge and experience from an established online music teacher with a proven methodology
  • Learn how to play by ear — a valuable and sought after skill in any folk musician’s toolkit
  • Grow confidence coordinating basic rhythm across both hands
  • Develop mindful strategies for overcoming annoying frustrations
  • Transfer this skill to other tunes in future

All in an easily digestible on-demand video course split into bite-size chunks! 

You’ll also gain access to the VIP Facebook Group, set up just for participants of this course, to ask questions, get answers and share your progress with others.


When you’ve finished the course, share a video of you playing and I’ll send you some personalised feedback!

Enroll on this course and gain back time

Here’s the simple truth:

The melodeon/button accordion isn’t an easy instrument to get your head around. It can take years to master the basics and there are many potential pitfalls and bad habits you can fall into along the way.

Time is everyone’s nemesis. We all wish we had more of it to fit in All The Things that we want to achieve in life – whether it’s for family, friends or your own dreams and aspirations.

Sure, you might end up at your destination by sheer luck. But the time you spend on getting there will be much greater than if you’d had a guide by your side to help you navigate the journey.

Start with firm foundations

Learning to play the melodeon without first building the essential foundation steps is like building a building without first having a blueprint – madness!

Access proven methods from an expert with 12+ years experience.  

Learn and implement the skills needed to successfully and confidently navigate your way around the melodeon using both hands.

“This course is very good. Mel is a fine teacher, Personable, Knowledgeable and Enthusiastic. The pace of the lessons are great. It is clear that a lot of time and thought has gone into putting this course together. Each of the sections are clear and concise and allow you to work at your own pace. The whole course is packed full of useful tips and techniques to help you become a better player. Not only in the playing of the instrument but on your physical wellbeing. It is also well filmed and you can see everything you need to clearly. I thoroughly recommend this course. Well done Mel and the team.”

Andy Cutting

Blowzabella, Topette!!, Leveret

You’ve bought both ends of it – you might as well learn to play both ends of it!

I hear time and time again – “I play melodeon, but only the right hand”. The instant gratification of finding a tune there can often be too tempting to move away from! 

HOWEVER if you only ever stick to playing the right hand, you’re missing out on a HUGE opportunity for further discovery and FUN which your instrument is capable of giving you!

Playing melodeon/button accordion whilst accompanying yourself with basses and chords on the left hand is unbelievably satisfying. Not only that, it makes more musical sense too because you can add rhythm and harmony to your playing. Fun for one, or if you want to play with others, too.

The left hand bass end has far fewer buttons than the right hand treble end which means there’s less to remember. It makes sense to start there, and spend time learning what’s there and how to utilise it. 

By the time you have completed this online course, you’ll be able to:

  • Play a scale on the left hand, naming all the basses and chords and where they live
  • Establish a strong, confident oom-pah rhythm to accompany tunes with
  • Identify the sound of the left hand accompaniment separately from the melody
  • Accompany a simple traditional tune with both hands playing at the same time

You’ll leave equipped with the physical knowledge of your left hand bass end and have laid firm rhythmical foundations on which to build tunes that coordinate properly with the right hand melody.

Melodeon Course Breakdown

You’ll be expertly guided step-by-step through the process towards playing your first tune – with both hands – and with confidence.

The 6 sections of the course come with ‘Listen & Learn’, ‘Pick Up & Play’ and ‘Helping Hand’ video lessons:


Section 1:
Welcome to Pick Up & Play

Discover what’s in store throughout the course and hear more about The Mel Method of learning the melodeon. Listen to the tune you’re going to learn during the course.


Section 2:
Let’s Meet Your Melodeon

Learn about your melodeon, how to look after it, how to pick it up and put it on, how to find a safe, comfortable playing position and how to look after your body and prevent injury whilst playing.


Section 3:
Let’s Pick Up & Play The Bass End

Learn all about the basses and chords, what you’ve got, where they are, what they’re called and how to play them in a scale sequence. You’ll learn how to play your first chord sequence with a simple oom-pah rhythm, with additional Helping Hand lessons to solve issues with running out of air (how to use the air button effectively) and having stiff bellows (bellows stretching).


Section 4:
Let’s Pick Up & Play Both Hands Together

Learn about the right hand, where to position your hand and fingers and how to play a simple scale. Grow familiarity and confidence by learning to play simple exercises specifically designed to coordinate the left and right hand rhythm and finger movements.


Section 5:
Let’s Pick Up & Play Your First Tune

Learn to play your first tune with both hands working seamlessly together. This is where all your hard work from the previous sections will start to pay off! Following Mel’s ‘deconstruction’ method of learning tunes by ear, you’ll learn each ‘chunk’ of the tune one piece at a time before learning to combine them into the full tune. You’ll learn how to guide your ear to hear the left hand accompaniment separately from the right hand melody, develop better listening skills and establish overall coordination from playing both hands separately to playing them together.


Section 6:
What Next?

Learn what you can do with the tune now that it’s yours! Learn how to play at speed and spice up a tune by adding in some simple embellishments.  

“I did the pick up and play course to help me get started with playing a melodeon borrowed from my Morris team. I found it very useful and enjoyable. It has enabled me to get to grips with the basics of the melodeon and to move forward with learning to play some of the dance tunes. I know some people on the team have found learning to play the base notes difficult and only play with the right hand but doing the pick up and play course has enabled me to play both. I have carried Mel’s methods through and can now play several of our dance tunes. Thanks Mel.”

Amanda Seedhouse

Pick Up & Play Graduate

Every time you put the melodeon away again, you’re not making the most of your dream…

Don’t let the confusion, frustration, time excuses and despondency get the better of you. It is easy to become overwhelmed by the enormity of the task at hand in learning a new skill, let alone a musical instrument.

You’ve probably spent a pretty penny on buying the melodeon, or it holds some valuable nostalgic memory for you. It would be a shame to let it just sit in it’s case at the back of the wardrobe…

Just think, by taking this course in less than a year you could be merrily playing your favourite tunes with both hands and feeling really confident whilst doing so. A major milestone complete and a huge feeling of achievement in doing so!

Alternatively you give up, put the box back in it’s case and sit with the failure and disappointment at not taking the first steps to make your dream a reality. 

I know which one I’d rather choose…

“I started this course soon after buying my melodeon. I found the way the course is presented was really enjoyable – Mel presents in a very methodical and enthusiastic way. Going through learning a tune step by step really worked well for me and I intend to use this method for learning tunes in future. I progressed through the course and the teaching method helped me maintain motivation and interest throughout. I would definitely recommend the course to others.”

Andy Duckering

Pick Up & Play graduate


The course is built into my website and can be accessed by logging into you user account which you create at checkout.

You can view the course on any internet enabled device (e.g. iPad, PC, Mac, mobile phone etc). The bigger the screen, the better!

After purchasing the course, you will receive an email with information on how to access the course (make sure to tick the box at checkout to say you’re happy to receive emails from me!).

Make sure you tick the box at checkout to consent to receiving important emails from me regarding your enrolment — and check your spam filters for wayward emails! 

If you do not tick the box, my system does not ‘see’ you and therefore doesn’t trigger the automated email. You will not be spammed by ticking the box, although I may contact you from time to time with related information I think will interest you.

Once the lesson is open, click and watch the video (and read any other instructions), and then complete the tasks given. There are clearly marked paper-based resources along the way. Click the link to download the PDFs. Check your device’s ‘downloads’ folder to find them. Print if necessary.

After you complete each lesson, make sure to select ‘Mark Complete’ at the end of each lesson. That way, the course keeps track of where you’re at and bookmarks your progress for when you next login. 

The course is self-paced and the entire course is available to you from the get go, so you don’t have to worry about missing anything and you can go at your own pace. You can go backwards or forwards through the course at your leisure and repeat the lessons as many times as you need.

Your subscription to the course lasts for 12 months from when you first sign up. After this time, your access to the content is prohibited. Most people complete the course in 8 months or less. There is more than enough time to get the benefit of the course from the subscription period. 

No – not at all! 

The course is expertly designed to teach you how to learn to play by ear. This technique is often spoken about as a dark art, but in reality there are simple steps you can repeat in order to accomplish it. Each of the 65 video lessons demonstrate one concept simplified into a bite-sized piece of information that you’ll be able to pick up really easily by ear. 

It depends. There are three course options: one for DG, one for CF and one for GC diatonic accordion instruments. If you have one of these tunings, simply select the course that is appropriate for your instrument when you click the enroll button. 

If you have a different tuning, the keyboard layout and fingering positions on my instruments will likely be the same or close to yours if you have a BbEb, AD or BE or other tuning separated by an interval of a 5th meaning that you will be able to follow my fingers. 

However, the sound will not match as we will be playing in different notes in different keys. I will sound different to you and you won’t be able to play along with me with the sound on. You can however ‘mimic’ me by muting the video and following my finger movements which will in most cases match exactly. The note names will be different between us.

If you have a differently tuned instrument and already have a good theoretical knowledge of music, key signatures and note names, then the course will be appropriate for you. You will have to do some transposing by ear – which is a good skill to acquire – but it isn’t for the novice.

The only instruments that are NOT appropriate for this course are Irish/chromatic systems e.g. BC, CC#, DD# etc.

If you’re really unsure, check out this blog I wrote or simply ping me an email. 

Never give up on your dreams

If you give up before you’ve even really tried, you’ll never know how much fun you could have and how many opportunities you’ve missed out on. 

It’s easy to give in to the frustrations and excuses, but if you do then you’re giving up on the dream you’ve always had to play this brilliant instrument. 

Taking this course you’ll quickly realise that with steady, guided effort a little bit at a time, your ability and confidence improve and you’ll quickly learn to love your melodeon and make your dreams a reality!

“The Pick Up and Play Course is an ideal introduction to the melodeon. Mel has a warm, friendly and encouraging teaching style and delivers the course in bite size chunks which can be followed at your own pace. Filmed with care, the demonstrations are easy to follow and play along with. Mel presents the melodeon as a fun instrument which she hopes her students will love as much as she does. She introduces each section by playing a new or traditional tune, showing what can be achieved by applying her watchwords Patience, Perseverance and Practice. Once you reach the end of the course you are invited to send Mel a short video of your playing so that she can provide feedback, which she does in a very thorough and helpful manner.”

Helen Renton

Pick Up & Play Graduate