Are You Left or Right Handed

April 23, 2010 at 03:48 AM ·

My instructor is left handed yet plays the violin in the usual manner; Right hand bows, Left hand fingers the strings on the finger board. By the time I posted this I noticed that the topic is being somewhat delt with so forgive me if this may be redundant.

My question is, are you Right Handed, or Left Handed?

Whichever hand you are does it give you an advantage or disadvantage playing the violin/viola/cello?

Does it realy matter which hand you are?

Replies (24)

April 23, 2010 at 03:22 PM ·

I'm left handed. 

Vibrato and trills came very easily for me as a student, but the bow was a mighty struggle.  In the end, I think it all comes out in the wash.

April 23, 2010 at 07:21 PM ·

 Lefty.  Like the person above me said, left hand technique has been quite easy to pick up, but my right hands needs loads of work ! !

April 23, 2010 at 07:23 PM ·

I write with my right hand, but I've always preferred using my left hand for things like opening bottles, jars, holding/pouring saucepans and kettles etc and since I can remember I've worn my watch on my right hand which some right handed friends have told me is "weird".  

When you consider the complex movement patterns etc that are required, developed  and constantly repeated in left hand technique - I'd go so far as to say that in theory violinists are ambidextrous - and that people who are right-handed in every other respect have a far more advanced level of left hand ability than non-string players.

This would make a great topic for a medical research/thesis project. 

April 23, 2010 at 11:12 PM ·

Like Rosalind, I am left-hand dominant but write with my right hand, as I was "corrected" when I was a little child. Now I use my left hand/arm for tasks that require more strength, such as batting and golfing, and right hand for tasks that require fine motor skills. I can use the computer mouse with either hand with equal ease, use chopsticks and write with my left hand (just not pretty), so it's likely that I'm ambidextrous. I believe that it would have been pretty easy for me to do vibrato and trills (I picked them up easily) if not for my hand size/pinky/stiff fingers...

April 23, 2010 at 11:25 PM ·

I've been told I was completely ambidextrous as an infant/toddler.  That being so, my mother decided that if I didn't care, it was a right-handed world and life would be easier if I used my right hand, so she encouraged me to do so.  I've had people tell me I do things like sweep, shovel snow, etc., left-handed.  Frankly, I don't know which way is which and will switch off to avoid fatigue or reach into a corner.

On thie violin, I would say that my left hand skills are better than my right, but I think a lot of that has to do with how and what I was taught.  My guess is that the same is true of many folks.

April 24, 2010 at 12:23 AM · I used to be ambidextrous, but when I lost my left hand I became right handed. Except for playing the fiddle, which is now the only thing I do left handed because you can't note with a hook.

April 24, 2010 at 03:01 AM ·

I'm left handed. I always felt it was an advantage to have my dominant hand doing the fine finger stuff. As a consequence of playing cello starting very young, I do big arm things like pounding nails right handed, and fine stuff with my left. In my violin making it's the same, except with many of the small things like using knives I can use either hand and be comfortable, which is great. I like to think there's a real advantage to being a lefty in a right world. :-)

By the way, from my perspective, I'd never recommend learning to play left-handed. Doing it right-handed as a lefty, I have serious advantages, I think.

April 24, 2010 at 05:38 PM ·

How odd- no real right-handers here yet.  Are musicians in general more likely to be leftys or ambidextrous?  Of my three kids, the one who has really stuck with music is ambidextrous.  He writes with his right hand, uses silverware in his left, throws and catches left-handed.  A few years ago when I started teaching him to play tennis it took him several days on the court to settle on which hand he wanted the racket in.  He'll still occasionally switch to reach a really wide shot.

April 24, 2010 at 06:20 PM ·

I noticed just South-Paws also! I am right handed but have done many other things left handed. I began playing the violin at age 10, played Bass Guitar from 16 years old to 25 years old. Is there a connection with instrumentalists and handedness?

April 24, 2010 at 06:59 PM ·

What is interesting to me is that handedness doesn't seem to be an issue for string players.   I imagine that this is due to the necessity of uniformity in the orchestra-- don't want to be whacking into each others' bow arms.  Same with piano, as far as I know there are no left-handed pianos.

Makes me wonder if the sales of guitars and basses for lefties has as much to do with profit as anything else.  Left-handed guitars always cost more than right-handed ones.  I know that lefties were flipping their guitars and playing them upside down before makers started marketing left-handed guitars, but I've had plenty of right-handed guitar students who come to me having taught themselves to play their guitar upside-down as well.

My view is that, for the sake of  being able to play with others in tight spaces, and since all instruments demand a degree of ambidexterity, why not play in the traditional manner?

April 24, 2010 at 07:16 PM ·

I'm left-handed too. Learnt to write with my right hand, but threw balls and played tennis with my left. People tell me it shows in my playing. I would not know, for lack of comparison.

April 24, 2010 at 09:19 PM ·

This is an interesting subject -- one I never even thought about in connection with violin playing while I was growing up.

I'm decidedly right-handed.  But I took to the violin quite easily as a kid, and I remember that I was always quicker to absorb new left-hand technique than I was to overcome new bowing challenges.

April 24, 2010 at 09:32 PM ·

@ Jim H.- Interesting, I am/was the same way as you, with regards to Fingering & Bowing.

April 25, 2010 at 12:35 AM ·

right handed.

April 25, 2010 at 02:04 AM ·

Very interesting responses!  I am seriously Right-Handed, and never even questioned the fact that my left hand had to do some tricky things. As a beginner, it ALL felt tricky and awkward, so I never even wished to reverse it.

April 25, 2010 at 02:16 AM ·

Righthanded! That is why I do things juuuusssssttttt Right!

Kidding aside, I have no problem which either one that is dominant, my problem is coordinations!

April 25, 2010 at 11:42 AM ·

Elinor- I think we are ALL challenged to some extent with coordination! Hahahahaha!

April 26, 2010 at 01:07 AM ·

 I'm mostly right-handed, so I write, swing my tennis racquet, and hold my bow with my right hand. However, I use my left hand for a variety of tasks, especially in working on computer hardware, texting on my phone, and all the manner of tasks while cooking.

All of us are usually not extreme right or left, but fall somewhere on the spectrum, thus the presence of people from time to time who are truly ambidextrous and are able to accomplish most tasks easily with either hand (assuming equal amounts of training on each).

April 27, 2010 at 04:17 AM ·


April 27, 2010 at 05:12 PM ·

I consider myself "right-handed", but when I was very young, my parents thought I was left-handed. I've always used my left hand a lot. However, any time I wanted to draw a picture or write, I always used my right hand. Nobody ever told me to do that... it's just what seemed natural.


I played french horn for 15 years before learning to play violin, and of course the keys of the french horn are depressed by the left hand. I also played guitar. So I had a lot of experience using my left hand to play a musical instrument. That really did not translate into an advantage while learning to play the violin though, because the tasks for both the "string hand" and "bow hand" seemed equally awkward and difficult to me in the beginning. Also, my left hand and arm tended to want to mirror whatever the right hand and arm were doing. I had a lot of tension in my left hand, which I finally cured by forcing my RIGHT hand to relax.

April 27, 2010 at 05:24 PM ·

I am completely right-handed, but... even to this day on the violin left-hand technique comes much faster for me than right-hand technique. Never really thought about that before... pretty weird :) 

April 28, 2010 at 10:28 PM ·

@ Glenda.

On going from guitar to violin.  Do the following phrases seem familiar?

"No sodding frets on this thing!"

"I've played the string.... Why isn't it still ringing?..... Oh yeah, got to keep the bow hand moving..."




April 29, 2010 at 04:49 PM ·

Yeah, Matt! I liked the guitar for its frets and geared tuners, but I never got very smooth at chord changes and the strings really dug into my fingers. Pressing the strings down on the violin is WAAAAYYYY easier but just about everything else feels more difficult to me than guitar. This may sound strange, but to me, violin has more similarities to french horn than to the guitar. For instance, when playing the horn, a correct note isn't achieved just by pressing the right key, you also must have the correct air speed and lip vibration going through the mouthpiece... YET, if your right hand isn't cupped in the bell just right, you won't achieve that big, fat, round, mellow tone you're striving for, and your intonation can suffer as well.

Yep, without a doubt, on violin ya gotta keep that bow moving or you'll kill the vibration.

April 30, 2010 at 08:45 AM ·

I'm left handed and play right handed, I think it's a good setup. 

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