Accordion Lessons in Houston, TX

Have you always wanted to learn to play accordion? Dr. Berlin teaches accordion lessons in Houston, Texas blending the ideals of Dr. Shinichi Suzuki's teaching techniques with Dr. Willard Palmer's expertly-edited, high-quality accordion repertoire. For diatonic instruments, Dr. Berlin utilizes Dr. Helmi Harrington's pioneering diatonic accordion methods.


While there is no formally-accredited Suzuki Accordion program in the world, Dr. Suzuki and Dr. Palmer were followers of each other's work and upon meeting for the first time remarked with mutual admiration and respect how influential they had been to each other. The Palmer-Hughes features 10 Accordion Course Books, 5 Recital Books, and 3 Note Spellers make up the core repertoire of the Palmer-Hughes method. Dr. Harrington's methods contain similar material specially selected and arranged for diatonic accordions.

Many Types of Accordions

There are many different types of accordions in existence today. Dr. Berlin is glad to help you choose which accordion is best suited to your musical goals. Accordions can generally be divided into two broad categories: chromatic accordions and diatonic accordions. The chromatic accordion family includes the piano accordion, the C-system chromatic button accordion, and the Bayan or B-system chromatic button accordion.

Chromatic Accordions

Piano Accordion
Most popular in the USA and easiest to learn.

C-System Chromatic
Popular in Western Europe and gaining popularity in the USA and Canada.
Notice: Row 3 has three white buttons in a line.

Bayan or B-System Chromatic
Popular in Eastern Europe and Russia.
Notice: Rows 1 and 4 have three white buttons in a line.

Important: Chromatic button accordions come in 3-, 4-, and 5-row models. Dr. Berlin urges chromatic button accordion students to begin on 5-row models.

Diatonic Accordions

Button diatonic accordions are generally lighter and more compact than chromatic accordions. These accordions are are among the most popular instruments in the world. Their basic do-re-mi-fa-so-la-ti-do organization is easy to understand, pleasant to learn, and appropriate to the playing of most popular folk music. Popular diatonic accordion models are the three-row "Bohemian" accordion and the single row melodeon, also known locally as the Cajun accordion.

Three-Row "Bohemian"
Popular in the Southern USA and Central and South America.

One-Row Melodeon
Popular in Southwest Louisiana and Southeastern Texas.

One-Row Melodeon
Popular in Southwest Louisiana and Southeastern Texas.

Important: Diatonic accordions come in various keys. Dr. Berlin teaches one-row accordion in the key of C and three-row accordion in the G-C-F configuration.

Some types of accordions are definitely easier to learn and applicable to more styles of music than others. Dr. Berlin will be glad to help you decide what accordion is best for you!

When to Begin?

Because Suzuki music instruction is linguistic in nature, it has been found that students can begin learning this second, musical language shortly after they have begun acquisition of their first, spoken language. Most students can begin learning an instrument as early as age three or four. Young students interested in the accordion begin on melodicas (mouth-blown keyboard instruments) and transition to the accordion at age seven or eight. Young students interested in the piano or organ can also begin on a melodica. Learning the accordion supports learning of both the piano and the organ. In fact, students can even learn two instruments at once!

Dr. Berlin Has Taught Accordion to More Than 1,000 Students!

To the parent of a young child interested in the accordion, I suggest you start them as early as possible.  This will ensure that accordion playing becomes a part of their daily routine from which they will not deviate with competing activities vie for their time later in adolescence.  To the older student, I suggest you start as soon as possible. It is never too late to begin!


Because of the many remarkable videos available of very young Suzuki students performing advanced repertoire, some people mistakenly believe that Suzuki is a "children's method" not suitable for later beginners or adults.  This is certainly not the case.  Any person, at any age, with an interest in learning an instrument can thrive under the guidance of a certified Suzuki teacher.

Another misconception is that students are taught by rote and that music reading is not emphasized.  This is also not the case. It is for the pre-literate student that written music is not emphasized.  As the student begins to become a literate person in their primary language (e.g. English), they are introduced to reading in a very natural, developmentally-appropriate fashion.

Students are trained to play by ear, not by rote.  The difference may seem subtle to the casual readers, but it is substantial.  Listening and mimicking is a natural process of language acquisition. Ear training is also used for older, literate students.

Principles of Study and Guidance

  1. The student should listen to reference recordings every day... to develop musical sensitivity. Rapid progress depends on this listening.
  2. Tonalization, or the production of beautiful tone, should be stressed in the lesson and at home.
  3. Constant attention should be given to correct posture and proper hand positioning.
  4. Parents and teachers should strive to motivate the [student] so [they] will enjoy practicing correctly at home.

(excerpted from Suzuki Guitar School, Vol. 1. Van Nuys, CA: Alfred Music, 2018, 4.)

The adult or self-motivated adolescent student will naturally not require the same level of external motivation as younger students.  Nevertheless, others in the home should support and encourage the music student's endeavors.

Preparation for College
and Beyond!

For the advanced student, the Palmer-Hughes repertoire includes material suitable for the college and professional level.  A student beginning at age three or four with a support system in place who practices regularly can expect to complete the final book in high school. When the students are ready to apply for college, their life-long dedication will cause them to stand out and be noticed for acceptance and scholarship.  Even if the student does not study music in college, they will be equipped and primed for a life-long relationship with music through their accordion which will never leave them.

The Berlin Accordion Method

The only person that really taught "The Suzuki Method" was Dr. Suzuki. There is no "one, true way" to teach an instrument.  Every student is different and every teacher has their own unique and innovative strengths and strategies for their students. Dr. Berlin's background, personal study, and scholarship makes his teaching unique in all the world, even with a shared repertoire!

Graded Supplemental Repertoire

A high-quality graded teaching repertoire is essential to student success. The core Palmer-Hughes repertoire is listed to the right. These are the central pieces for those studying the three types of chromatic accordions. Additionally, the graded "Recital" series is intended to accompany the P-H tutor books 1-5 and theory books.  Students working through the material have a expansive range of repertoire from which to draw.

O, Dear, What Can the Matter Be? * Cuckoo Waltz * Pop! Goes the Weasel * Beautiful Brown Eyes * The Grey Goose * Aura Lee * A Tisket, A Tasket * I Wish I Were Single Again * Our Boys * The Monkey and the Owl * Bugs * Waltz (from Poet and Peasant) - Suppe * Barcarolle (from Tales of Hoffman) - J. Offenbach * Shortnin' Bread * Home, Sweet, Home - Bishop * Starlight Waltz * Largo (Dvorak) * Ideal March * Tourelay * Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen * My Wild Irish Rose * Ta-ra-ra-boom-de-ay * Invitation to the Dance * Home on the Range * Nelly Bly * Liebestraum * The Fortune Teller * Gay Nineties * Patriotic Medley * Jenny Lind Polka - A. Wallerstein * La Golondrina (The Swallow) - Serpadell * Soldier's Joy * Skater's Waltz - Waldteufel * Waiting for the Robert E. Lee - Muir-Gilbert * Just a Song at Twilight (Love's Old Sweet Song) - J.L. Molloy * Barbara Polka * Gold and Silver - Franz Lehar * Battle Hymn of the Republic - Bishop * Oh Where, Oh Where * American Patrol - F.W. Meacham * Bella Bocca Polka * Billboard March * British Grenadiers * Gypsy Dance * Hawaiian War Dance * La Raspa * Melody of Love * P-H Polka * Wedding of the Winds * Popcorn Polka * Can-Can * Grand Old Medley * Serenade for Strings * Spinning Song * National Emblem * Mystery Theme * Ballet Music from "Faust" * Banderas

...and MORE!

In addition to the music in the lesson and recital books, there are many other high-quality repertoire collections. The 71 books expertly written and edited by Palmer and Hughes provide accordionists a lifetime of material to enjoy!

Harrington Triple-Row "Bohemian" Teaching Repertoire

Take Off * First Waltz * Pop! Goes the Weasel * Au Clair De la Lune * Oh Dear, What Can the Matter Be? * Little Hans * Flying * Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star * Going Higher * Beautiful Brown Eyes * Sleep, Holy Child, Sleep * Skip to My Lou * Mary Had a Little Lamb * Wooden Heart * Old MacDonald * Camptown Races * L-P Treble * L-P Waltz * L-P March * Going Home * Kumbaya * Home Sweet Home * London Bridge * A Cute Tune * Give Back My Heart * Starlight Waltz * Five Higher * L-P Five Higher * I Saw Three Ships * Red River Valley * Big Parade * When the Saints Go Marching In * Marines' Hymn * Oh! Suzanna * Down in the Valley * Schnitzelbank * Singing Basses * Another Little Hans * Aura Lee * Give Back My Heart * Du, Du Liegst Mir Im Herzen * Ode to Joy * Tom-Tom Song * Little Exercise * Make the Difference * Cockles and Mussels and more!!!

Once students master these core teaching tunes, they then have the musical and technical foundation to pursue other types of music including Cajun, Conjunto, Creole, Norteño, Tejano, and Zydeco!

Harrington Single-Row Accordion / Melodeon Teaching Repertoire

Take Off * First Waltz * Second Waltz * Au Clair De la Lune * Little Hans * Oh Dear, What Can the Matter Be? * Mary Had a Little Lamb * Sleep, Baby, Sleep * Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star * London Bridge * Wooden Heart * Home Sweet Home * Kumbaya * Joy to the World * Camptown Races * Bye, Bye, My Baby * Going Home * Give Back My Heart * Soldier's Joy * Cuckoo Waltz * Chicken Dance * Echoes * Johann pa Snippen * Brahms' Lullaby * America * Morning Has Broken * Silent Night * Cajun Lullaby * Frosty the Snowman * Life in the Finnish Woods * Du, Du, Liegst Mir Im Herzen * Snow Waltz.

Once students master these core teaching tunes, they then have the musical and technical foundation to pursue other types of music including Cajun, Creole, and Zydeco!

Culturally Responsive Repertoire

Please see Dr. Berlin's page on culturally responsive repertoire.

Palmer-Hughes Repertoire

  1. Skating
  2. Go 'Way
  3. Merrily We Play Along
  4. Horse Sense
  5. The Donkey
  6. Jingle Bells
  7. All Through the Night
  8. Join the Fun
  9. Dreaming
  10. Indian Song
  11. My Bonnie
  12. There's No Place Like Home
  13. Old MacDonald
  14. The Can-Can
  15. Vegetables on Parade
  16. Drink to Me Only With Thine Eyes
  17. Camptown Races
  18. The Caissons Go Rolling Along
  19. Come to the Sea (Vieni Sul Mar)
  20. Marine's Hymn
  21. Echo Waltz (adapted) - Franz Behr
  22. Vive L'Amour
  23. She'll Be Comin' 'Round the Mountain
  24. Over The Waves
  25. Golden Slippers - J.A. Bland
  26. Chiapanecas
  27. Country Gardens
  28. Minka
  29. The Merry Widow (waltz) - Franz Lehar
  30. La Donna E Mobile - G. Verdi
  31. County Fair (Varsouviana)
  32. Arabian Enchantment (Scheherazade) - Rimsky-Korsakoff
  33. Arkansas Traveller
  34. Danube Waves - S. Ivanovici
  35. William Tell - Rossini
  36. Riding on the Range
  37. Little Brown Jug Polka
  38. Cielito Lindo - C. Fernandez
  39. Oh, Susanna! - S. Foster
  40. Alouette (bass)
  41. Song of the Volga Boatmen
  42. Zacatecas - Codinas
  43. Emperor Waltz - Johann Strauss
  44. Fascination
  45. Santa Lucia
  46. Mexican Hat Dance (Jarabe Tapatio)
  47. Second Hungarian Rhapsody - Franz List
  48. A-Hunting We Will Go!
  49. The Star Spangled Banner
  50. Light Cavalry - Suppe
  51. Tell Me Your Dreams - Daniels
  52. Cotton-Eyed Joe
  53. Ciribiribin - A. Pestalozza
  54. Scotland the Brave
  55. The Thunderer - Sousa
  56. Comedians' Dance - G. Kabalevsky
  57. La Cucaracha
  58. The Glow Worm - Paul Lincke
  59. Ragtime Cowboy Joe - Muir, Abrahams, Clarke
  60. Blow the Man Down (bass)
  61. Sharpshooters March - G. Metallo
  62. Treasure Waltz (from Gypsy Baron) - Strauss
  63. Clarinet Polka
  64. Two Guitars
  65. Prelude in A Major - F. Chopin
  66. La Spagnola - V. Di Chiara
  67. Roumanian Rhapsody No. 1 - G. Enesco
  68. Repasz Band - H.J. Lincoln
  69. Degoza - Nazareth
  70. Drink! Drink!
  71. Parade of the Tin Soldiers - Jessel
  72. Silver Skates (adapt. fr Louin du Bal)
  73. Our Director - E. Bigelow
  74. Waltz Theme - A. Durand
  75. Hungarian Dance No. 1 - Johannes Brahms
  76. El Relicario - J. Padilla
  77. Semper Fidelis - John Philip Sousa
  78. Charlie the Boxer - Stanley Karankowski
  79. Come Back to Sorrento (Torna a Surriento) - E. De Curtis
  80. La Cumparsita - C.M. Rodriguez
  81. Turkish Rondo - Mozart
  82. Hungarian Dance No. 5 - Johannes Brahms
  83. Entry of the Gladiators - J. Fucik
  84. Roses from the South - Johann Strauss
  85. Espana - Waldteufel
  86. Funiculi Funicula - L. Denza
  87. Toccata in D Minor - J. S. Bach
  88. Washington Post - John Philip Sousa
  89. Laughing Polka
  90. Medley of Strauss Waltzes
  91. Saber Dance - Khachaturian
  92. Dark Eyes
  93. Russian Sailors' Dance - R. Gliere
  94. Juarez (based on Jaleo de Jerez)
  95. Neapolitan Song (Swan Lake Ballet) - Tschaikowsky
  96. Canzone Amorosa (from A Day in Venice) - Ethelbert Nevin
  97. Stars and Stripes Forever - Sousa
  98. La Cinquantaine (Golden Wedding) - Gabriel, Marie
  99. El Choclo
  100. Czardas - V. Monti
  101. La Virgen de la Macarenas
  102. March of the Toys (fr Babes in Toyland) - Victor Herbert
  103. Waltz in Db Major (Minute Waltz) - Frederic Chopin
  104. Hungarian Dance No. 6 - Johannes Brahms
  105. One Fine Day (Un Bel Di, Vedremo from Madame Butterfly)
  106. Flight of the Bumblebee - Rimsky-Korsakov
  107. The Young Prince and the Young Princess (Scheherazade) - Rimsky-Korsakov
  108. Variations on a Ukrainian Theme (Schone Minka)