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The Weekend Vote weekend vote: Which hand tends to be dominant for you, in your violin-playing?

May 24, 2013 at 3:53 PM

I think that most people have a dominant hand, in their violin-playing, and it is not necessarily determined by whether they are right- or left-handed.

I noticed one of my teaching colleagues describing to a student how to feel something in the bow hand, and it dawned on me, that she herself tends to feel her playing mostly in the bow hand: in that tension of hair against the string, the feel of the stick against the thumb, even in the movement of hand and arm.

I feel that, too, but I think I mostly feel my violin-playing in my left hand: the strings into my fingers, the vibrating of the strings, the vibrato in my hand, the violin neck on my thumb.

On which side to you feel your violin playing most strongly, in the bow hand, or the violin hand?

From Corwin Slack
Posted on May 24, 2013 at 3:54 PM
Ysaye is said to have said that you could develop a left hand in a couple of years but it took a lifetime to develop the bow arm.
From Laurie Niles
Posted on May 24, 2013 at 4:05 PM
I agree with Ysaye, at least about the right hand...I think it takes rather longer for the left as well, at least for me! :)

From Pamela Wiley
Posted on May 24, 2013 at 4:54 PM
Totally agree here! My husband and I have had this "argument" for years. I finally won when I said "Why do you think violin-playing evolved with the bow in the right hand!"
From marjory lange
Posted on May 24, 2013 at 6:02 PM
I can no longer separate the two, for either good or ill. When I have a problem fingering, it shows in my bow arm, and likewise, when there's a tricky articulation, it can tangle my left.

My second teacher altered my use of both hands, so even in that, I can't say there's ever been a difference... It's like asking which is more important to song, lungs or larynx.

From Laurie Niles
Posted on May 24, 2013 at 7:56 PM
I had a teacher who always used to say, "You must divorce your hands!" That sounded pretty funny, but it's true in certain respects!
From marjory lange
Posted on May 25, 2013 at 4:01 AM
"Divorce your hands!"--That's true and it's not like I spiccato with my left hand or vibrate with my right, but the two are not separable into 'dominant' or 'weaker.' Maybe once, but not now.
From elise stanley
Posted on May 25, 2013 at 7:59 AM
The way I see - with the exception of vibrato - the left hand makes the note possible, the right one makes it mean something. So I live my right hand.
From Francesca Rizzardi
Posted on May 26, 2013 at 4:02 AM
There seems to be confusion between "dominance" and "importance" here. My left hand is better than my right but I think the right hand is more important because the tone quality comes from the bow. To muddy the waters, I'd say that the bow gives me better tactile feedback whereas the violin gives me better aural feedback.
From Patrick Tinney
Posted on May 26, 2013 at 4:22 AM
Some time ago at one of my lessons after playing a rapid passage and noting that I had always had agile fingering (typewriter, guitar, flutes and recorder), but crying in frustration I hate my tone and my articulation.

My teacher said "your left hand is your gift". Even as recently as last week she said "you must work on a supple bow hand. Let your fingers move with the bow"

I am just beginning after two years to get a tone I can live with.

My up bow is straighter and sound better than my down bow. My main plan is to memorize short passages and concentrate on the bow along with my right hand and my right arm.

It is not just the hand. I have to loosen the wrist and open the elbow. I have a lot of work.

But the left had just keeps on going. Ok, my third finger has a tendency to be a little sharp, but that is already getting a lot better.

From marjory lange
Posted on May 26, 2013 at 12:35 PM
You know, thinking about it, seems better to talk about 'arm,' rather than hand.

My bowing begins at the shoulder/neck on the right side. So, too, my fingering on the left. When I concentrate on a 'hand,' and whatever it is doesn't work, I've learned the first place to become aware of is neck/shoulder. Consider the source!

From Anne-Marie Proulx
Posted on May 27, 2013 at 3:09 AM
Well it depends...

All the great pedagogues tell the right hand is more important, is the articulation, phrasing and the signature or an artist...

Theorically, yes!!!

But the left hand is of an equal complexity for someone like me with narrow and weak hands with very thin fingers (and finger pads).

As much as I battle every day to add weight to my bow arm, texture, division, contact point, angle etc. I battle just as much after 8 years to do these nice, relaxed and rich vibratos (à la Perlman etc.), pressing two strings with one finger, spread my hand wide ennough for many things can be torture and my left hand is very prone to indjury since it's too fragile to press strings all day imho.

I know for most people it isn't but for me, my left hand is as complex to learn as the bow hand for the reasons told previously.

So, it's a personal issue I beleive :)

From Bart Meijer
Posted on May 27, 2013 at 6:41 PM
I voted left hand, because my focus is there much of the time. But when I have the time to focus on the right hand, it sounds better. It is best when the bowing is a reliable basis for the left hand to perform its tricks.
From Yusuf Eroglu
Posted on May 27, 2013 at 8:12 PM
I spent years mostly on developing the left hand but didn't realize that right hand gets worse.

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