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The Weekend Vote weekend vote: Are you left-handed? (and happy Left-Handers Day!)

August 12, 2011 at 4:48 PM

Happy Left-Handers Day! Certainly, this calls for a weekend poll!

There are an unusual prevalence of left-handed people in the arts, and this includes classical music. Some examples: Mozart, Beethoven, Schumann, Paganini, Prokofiev, Ravel, and more.

I happen to be left-handed as well. A number of people have asked me if I ever considered playing the violin with the bow in the left hand and fiddle in the right. It's a questioned that has always puzzled me, I always felt at an advantage, with all that work the left hand must do! Of course, I've had to work hard on BOTH hands, as we all do!

Are you left-handed? Do you know of any other violinists who are?

Happy left-hander's day!

From Jim Hastings
Posted on August 12, 2011 at 5:05 PM

As I've mentioned in a few threads where the subject has come up, I'm decidedly right-handed.  Yet, in violin-playing, the right hand -- especially in dealing with new pieces -- has always been more challenging for me.  I solve the left-hand challenges in new stuff earlier.  Playing the notes with the left hand feels as natural to me as walking and breathing.

From Francesca Rizzardi
Posted on August 12, 2011 at 6:55 PM

I have the short pnky problem, and my left pinky is even shorter than my right!  (I'm right-handed.) As soon as I realized this, I  wondered if I'd be better off reversing sides.  But maybe left-handers with a short pinky have a shorter right pinky!

From Michael Divino
Posted on August 12, 2011 at 7:10 PM

 I love being a left-handed violinist!  

From Eloise Garland
Posted on August 12, 2011 at 7:15 PM

 Both my brother and I are ambidextrous and I wish that that was on the vote. But, when it comes to what hands we write with, I am right handed and my brother left (he is also a violinist). Interesting discussion! :)

From David Rowland
Posted on August 12, 2011 at 7:33 PM

I voted left handed but in reality, I'm confused.

I write and throw a ball, bowl, with my left hand but use a computer mouse with my right hand. Many other tasks where eye dominance is critical, I do right handed because I am right eye dominant. Things like photography and shooting sports.

Some would say I'm ambidextrous, which simply means I can't do squat with either hand. :)

From Patrick Tinney
Posted on August 12, 2011 at 7:59 PM

My oldest is a lefty, but not a string player. I always said "I'd give my right arm to be ambidextrous" and in 1971-72 a bout of tendonitis made this come true, though I was always a little ambidextrous.

I have always heard that it would be difficult to play violin left handed in an orchestra and would amount to something along the lines of trombone suicide, but I have to wonder.

I have seen a couple of luthiers that show violins for sinistrals, and I do not mean this as a left handed remark. These are said to be mirror images of traditional violins.

I saw Reinhard Goebel play in Austin many years ago (over twenty, I’m sure). I do not think he had switched hands at this point. He had a bunch of violins to deal with the scordatura in the Biber.

I have known guitar players that sometime reverse the strings so even left handed the bass is to the top. Does anyone know if Goebel had the bass on the right when he switched to the left hand.

From Sue Buttram
Posted on August 12, 2011 at 8:04 PM

 I am right-handed in most things with the exception of skills that my left-handed brother taught me like dealing cards and playing pool.  My feeling about string playing is that both hands have very important tasks to accomplish - it's more important to have two hands capable of totally independent tasks.  I fail at playing the piano because each hand is doing basically the same task which apparently confuses me.

From Randy Walton
Posted on August 12, 2011 at 8:47 PM

I'm a righty and every violinist I know personally is also a one.......and she feels that being a lefty and playing righty was a distinct advantage!   

From Lyle Reedy
Posted on August 12, 2011 at 9:44 PM

I used to be ambidextrous and would play right handed if I could. Since I became right handed I am forced to play fiddle left handed, but I prefer to play right handed fiddles. I'm sure that sounds confusing, but very simply, I no longer have a left hand. So, ironically, playing is the only thing I do left handed.

From Julianne Heinen
Posted on August 13, 2011 at 12:19 AM

I have started my left-handed daughter on the violin and wondered whether I should do the left-handed violin. I chose not to simply because it would mess with her being in an orchestra setting if she played the opposite direction. I also wondered if left-handers didn't have the advantage anyway since the fingering is left handed. I decided that since I'm right handed and don't have a problem with left hand fingering, that she probably wouldn't have a problem with right hand bowing. So far so good.

From Julian Stokes
Posted on August 13, 2011 at 6:52 AM

Mostly right handed, though I always use my left hand for tasks requiring strength. On the topic of digital dexterity, I always find it easier to do my right cufflink (using the left hand) rather than the left (using the right). I don't know if that's due to playing the violin?

From Anne Horvath
Posted on August 13, 2011 at 12:22 PM

Southpaw here!

From Karen Allendoerfer
Posted on August 13, 2011 at 11:10 PM

 My daughter is left-handed and she plays the violin.  

From jean dubuisson
Posted on August 14, 2011 at 6:58 AM

 From what I see with my son, being left-handed is definitely not a bad thing when playing the violin (in the conventional way, so bow with the right hand). The other day he came home and had learned vibrato in half an hour with his teacher! His teacher basically said "try to do this" and he just did it. I think it is much easier to do if you are left-handed. For example I am right-handed, and tried for fun to vibrato with my right hand and indeed you can do it just like that. On the other hand it is true that bowing is probably a bit disadvantaged when being left-handed.

From Rosalind Porter
Posted on August 15, 2011 at 1:42 AM

Another ambidextrous person here.   I open jars with my left hand, prefer to pour tea/water and carry cooking pots etc with my left hand.  If I'm lucky enough to have the chance to take a dog for a walk, I will always hold the leash with my left hand.  But I write with my right.  Maybe I should have been a lefty, but I do think lots of elementary schools automatically assume kids are right-handed and perhaps push them towards writing with the right hand.   I know several friends who were forced to be right-handed, but later on in life followed their natural instincts and changed to being left-handed. 

From Charlie Gibbs
Posted on August 16, 2011 at 9:16 PM

I write with my left hand.  I also hold my fork with my left hand; although this can cause seating problems at meals, at least I can just pick up my fork from the table setting without having to transfer it to my other hand.

I'm right-handed in just about everything else, though - including playing musical instruments.  Maybe that's why I'm so confused all the time.

Just remember, though, that since the left side of the brain controls the right side of the body and vice versa, only left-handed people are in their right minds.

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