I am left handed

April 2, 2012 at 05:40 AM · [edited]

I'm curious whether or not there are violinists who can write with both hands? I am left handed, I use my left hand for doing stuff, but I also can write with my right hand although my handwriting with this hand is awfully big.

I play violin right handed, I can't imagine playing left handed and I don't want to have my violin set up left handed. I have no difficulty with playing right handed, maybe because I used to play guitar, also right handed.

I do think i have good balance

Does anyone have any experience with this situation? Or ever teach a left handed student? Especially left handed student who has good balance with both hands? I have browsed for this subject on this site but I haven't found an article (well yes there are a few subjects about left handed violinists, but not the one who can write with both hands :D ).

Replies (32)

April 2, 2012 at 08:48 AM · I have and had some left handed students. Some manage easily, some don't. Being left handed to me is neither a benefit nor a harm. With patience and care everybody will learn to play the violin.

April 2, 2012 at 09:51 AM · I'm left-handed in everything, left-footed, but I play the violin the normal way. Odd thing is, if I pick up a bodhran (frame drum) I instinctively hold it with the skin facing left, and hold the beater in my left hand - the opposite of normal practice.

When I first started learning violin, I just held it normally, and it didn't even occur to me to play left-handed.

April 2, 2012 at 10:37 AM · @Jim Dorans: have u ever felt forced to do things right handed as every day things are designed right handed?

@Simon Streuff: are they ambidextrous? I don't know how i'd feel if my left hand was very dominant. I meant, I've been ambidextrous, obviously had no problem learning violin right handed. I've read that left handed starters told they had difficulty with bowing because their left hands are very dominant, (it's like, my left handed friend trying to eat with the spoon in her right hand and she keeps looking at the mirror to know where her mouth is because if not, she'd point the spoon to her nose), while for me, when playing violin, no hand is more important than the other because each has its own difficult tasks.

I'm ambidextrous because I was born in Indonesia, a country where left hand is considered rude so my teacher kept on switching my pencil to my right hand and I was forced to do things right handed, even my mom forbade me, but the more i got older the more I didn't listen and kept writing and doing things left handed. When I first started playing violin it was my friend's violin, he's right handed. I didn't know that a violin could be played left handed, I was a curious kid, watching how he played, I loved the violin so much that I managed to just play right handed.

April 2, 2012 at 11:32 AM · @Vanessa ... no, apart from wanting to have left-handed cheque books (although cheques are being phased out now) :)

April 2, 2012 at 12:27 PM · I'm right handed in everything except ... when I was a kid I played hockey and I shot left. It just seemed completely natural, whereas shooting right felt awkward. Handedness is one of those amazing parts of our experience that I believe is not yet very well understood.

@Jim, out of the frying pan and into the fire because the credit card swipe devices at the grocery checkout are right-handed.

April 2, 2012 at 12:43 PM · "@Jim, out of the frying pan and into the fire because the credit card swipe devices at the grocery checkout are right-handed."

@Paul - neutral, surely? You mean the chip&pin devices where you insert your payment card, and your securtiy no. at the till, or something else? (Talking UK checkouts here).

April 2, 2012 at 01:40 PM · My sense of this is that it depends upon the degree of dominance, though learned habits surely have something to do with it as well. I'm left-handed, but have always managed to play stringed instruments right-handed with no perceptible problem. My perception is that although I am left-dominant, I still have usable control of the right hand - shows in using tools, for example. On the other hand, I think that there are people so left-dominant that their right hand control is not sufficient to learn things like guitar finger-picking, that is, fine motor control of the hand and fingers. The comments of the teachers here seem to support that idea, and I'd say that one has to assess the degree of "handedness" a person displays if one is to judge their potential for normal instruments.

There is still some mystery here. I have always felt that the tasks of the two hands were more or less equivalent in complexity for string playing; and I'm not sure what I'm missing, if anything, in trying to understand the role that hand dominance plays in making learning possible.

April 2, 2012 at 02:06 PM · "There is still some mystery here. I have always felt that the tasks of the two hands were more or less equivalent in complexity for string playing; and I'm not sure what I'm missing, if anything, in trying to understand the role that hand dominance plays in making learning possible."

Exactly! Both hands have difficult tasks. I know a left-handed woman who plays righty and considers it an advantage to be lefty, especially when it comes to vibrato.

April 2, 2012 at 03:22 PM · One of my left handed student is 8 years old. She learns in school to write with right hand, but I think she will learn both, in the lesson she makes marks in the sheets sometimes left sometimes right, funny thing is with left she sometimes draws mirror-inverted :) On the violin her being left handed comes in handy because she already discovered a wrist vibrato (!) on her own, because she is very flexible and agile with her left fingers. But also her left hand didn't come 100 % naturally and needs a lot of correcting. Same with the Bow: Some things work some do not. Same with every student. Some things come quick, some need more time and some give up trying. Many right handers have a huge problem with the bow also.

But being left handed is also a myth to me. But I believe its an unconscious conditioning in the early years not something pure inborn. When we are born, I assume we are quite much centered. But my opinion is not scientificly proven, its just what I believe. Maybe someone knows more about it?

April 2, 2012 at 07:34 PM · Simon, as the mother of three, two rightys and one ambidextrous/leaning left, I'm convinced that kids are born with right or left dominance in place. You see it in the early months with a new baby.

Vanessa, according to my mother I was completely ambidextrous as a baby. She decided that if it really didn't make any difference to me, i'd be better off learning to do things right-handed. As a teenager I broke my right hand and got pretty proficient writing left-handed by the time the cast came off. As a middle-aged adult I can still write with my left hand, albeit slowly and clumsily, and I'm told I do things like sweep and use a shovel left-handed. Frankly, I don't kniow which way is which and switch off as needed.

My second child eats with his left hand, writes with his right, and is left-dominant for most things using gross motor skills. For what it's worth, he's a good violinist/violist.

I don't see what difference handedness would make for a violinist, unless someone is absolutely hopeless with the non-dominant hand. By the same token, I wonder if playing helps increase competence in the non-dominant hand.

April 2, 2012 at 10:13 PM · Yes, I also think there will be an dominance. But as you say, some are lefthanded and do some things mainly with the right hand. Its not that absolute how some people want to see it. Maybe I have gone a little far with my contradiction. But I meant that you can learn everything. I am sure I can learn to write with left hand too. In fact I can "write", but I simply never practice it, so it doesn't get better.

Coming to the violin it is as everybody knows quite well balanced and both sides need attention.

April 2, 2012 at 11:38 PM · I think if one tries to learn anything with both hands, although in the beginning it may be hard, one can have a good balance so imho everyone could be ambidextrous and I still see no reason for beginner violinist to play left handed unless she or he has had an accident (e.g. finger missing). Of course dominant lefties might feel limited because they're forced to play right handed, but trying to learn anything with both hands makes dominant hand less dominant. Poor lefties have to adapt, it seems the world is so unfair =D

April 3, 2012 at 03:12 AM · I'm left-handed too. I also can do many things with my right hand and I think the reason for this is that so many things in the world are designed for right-handed people that us lefties have to be flexible and learn to be more comfortable with our non-dominant hand than the righties do.

I personally don't think it affects violin playing very much though, since both hands need to be very involved.

April 4, 2012 at 05:25 AM · I agree with Michael. I am left-handed. Since we are in the minority, we are forced to learn to function in a right-handed world so we tend to be come more semiambidexterous than our fellow right-handed counterparts, who have everything set up to suit their dominant side. I remember my first 'handed-ness' frustration was the stationary pencil sharpener in my grade school class. I HAD to learn to do it in order to sharpen my pencil.

That said, I have NO idea how or why anyone would want to bow with their dominant hand - for me it logically makes sense to use my dominant hand where quick finger motion is needed, and use my less dominant arm for the bowing. So I have never understood how fingering with left hand (guitars, violin, ect) would even be comfortable for a 'righty?' But clearly it is, or they never would have been designed that way.

April 5, 2012 at 05:22 PM · This Left-handed author has put Lefties back centuries with her comment that she plays her violin the "normal way". Does she mean that being left-handed is abnormal? Vanessa please, the next time you speak of your violin playing position say, "I play the violin right-handed." It is perfectly NORMAL to be left-handed. I am the author of "Left-Handed But Not Left Behind, A Positive Approach for the Left-handed Student"

April 5, 2012 at 06:42 PM · I don't think she meant it that way, Ms. Thomassen. She did not say that being left-handed is abnormal, she only implied that holding the violin on the left shoulder is the normal way to do it, and this is true.

April 5, 2012 at 08:44 PM · "This Left-handed author has put Lefties back centuries with her comment that she plays her violin the "normal way". Does she mean that being left-handed is abnormal? Vanessa please, the next time you speak of your violin playing position say, "I play the violin right-handed." It is perfectly NORMAL to be left-handed. I am the author of "Left-Handed But Not Left Behind, A Positive Approach for the Left-handed Student" "

Well, if we're going to be judgmental, what is your "expert" opinion of what I do? I play a "normal" right handed fiddle left-handed, and I'm not even left-handed. But apparently you know best.

April 5, 2012 at 10:35 PM · @annie: Did I say it's abnormal? What I meant by normal was just right handed. Nobody calls herself abnormal. Even if I called myself abnormal it is not your business, because I didn't call you, you, or the others abnormal.

I'm Chinese-Indonesian, living in netherlands, you might take my words differently because english is NOT my main language! No need to get offended like that! I already have to deal with 2 languages a day lol

April 5, 2012 at 11:46 PM · But there is a "normal" way of playing the violin, if one defines "normal" as the usual way that people do things. I don't really see how you can deny that, if you look around. I've met hundreds of violinists in my lifetime and played a zillion gigs, and I've never met someone who plays with the violin in the right hand and bow in the left. And I've met quite a lot of left-handed violinists!

As a left-handed violinist myself, I've always felt it an advantage to hold the violin in the left hand and the bow in the right. Both hands have a big job to do; I don't see why you would train it the other way around unless you had some major physical problem.

April 6, 2012 at 12:12 AM · Annie: We are talking about violin playing. The violin has its construction wich forces us to play it in a certain position, wich is the normal position. If you think that the normal position is an offense to the left-handed people, please note, that the common sence here is, that left and right handed people can play the violin in its normal postion. Where is the offense here?! I would also be more interested in some substanitial ideas.

In wich case you think a violin should be build the other way around? Why is the violin held on the left side(wich is the normal way :D)? Why do some of the left handed have problems with the normal violin hold while some have advantages?

My opinion: I would always advice a student who is left handed to play the normal way, because he will have a much larger choice of violins, when he wants a good instrument. Building them from left to right I dont believe it will work because good violins are not made 100 % symmetrical and they have the bass bar on the left side. Second reason is, that I know outstanding left handed players, playing the normal way. So what is the problem again?

April 6, 2012 at 01:28 AM · To avoid missunderstanding I'm trying to edit the text. My apologize, I still have respect for elders. But I'm not good at explaining/telling my opinion in text :/

April 6, 2012 at 01:50 AM · Vanessa, there is no problem at all with understanding your writing. You were right that it is the normal way to play and what you wrote is fine.

April 7, 2012 at 12:14 AM · well John. I just noticed that that woman Annie just signed up on v.com only to comment on this thread and promote her book lol

April 7, 2012 at 08:50 PM · did i mention i have edited it? -__-

I'm out of your debate. not here to waste my time.

Good luck with that

April 7, 2012 at 10:57 PM · Vanessa, it could be strongly argued that the violin is inherently a left-handed instrument, and those who are right-handed are starting with a disadvantage.

April 9, 2012 at 08:08 PM · Some of you might be interested in checking out teh great fiddler Katrina Nicolayeff (nee Pearce). She won both of the biggest fiddle contests in the country last year. She is a lefty, and plays a right-handed fiddle, left-handed. This may not be practical for classical playing, but it gives her a unique edge in the fiddle world. She has power and drive on the low strings like nobody's business.

April 11, 2012 at 04:58 AM · You should be proud to be a left handed, they do better with the instrument than a right handed, because they know how to control their fingers properly allowing for good intonation, and fast songs.

April 15, 2012 at 01:10 PM · hello to everyone

my name is Nozar and 30 years old

i am left handed too. i started playing the violin about six months ago. at first i thought being left handed was a benefit. but then realized the heart of this instrument is the bowing. since then i have always been thinking of changing my violin to a left handed one. but then i say to myself " you can do it right handed very well just need to practice more" but sometimes i really get disappointed. i dont know what to do. i would be glad if you could help me. please

April 16, 2012 at 12:41 AM · I am left-handed, and I tell all of my lefty students that they have a slight advantage when playing violin- I think it is better for left-handed people than if it was on the opposite shoulder. Also, if you subscribe to the popular belief that music is an art and therefore a right-brained activity, you should be encouraged since left-handed people are naturally more attuned to the right side of the brain. Just a thought! Most of the science behind playing the violin is hard work, repetition, and pushing your boundaries. Really, we all just need to go practice properly.

April 16, 2012 at 02:18 AM · I started violin when I was past 15 years old. Most teachers did not understand or have patience for leftys or slower Learners. All the issues are addressable playing as a righty, on a righty violin but appreciation for muscle development in the hand, earlier more sufisticated fingering with extra ear training to go with the strength and coordination issues, a lot of work on bowing is also important. I guess these things are important to all but what I mentioned requires special care to get lefties flying.

August 10, 2012 at 02:34 AM · oh sorry, long comments and i just read them now. i'm speechless now it's been quite a while ago

August 17, 2012 at 12:26 AM · Just spotted this thread so I'm late to the party.

I think that for many lefties "handedness" can be quite complex. I write with my left hand but do large sweeping motions like tennis with my right. So for me the conventional way of playing the violin works nicely.

Like another poster, I do wonder why the violin evolved with the right handed majority having to finger the strings with their less dominant hand. You'd have though that this would require finer motor control than the larger movements of the bow-hand. Does anyone have any theories?

On the wider point of left/right brain dominance, I remember years ago being part of a study by Edinburgh University. They came to our school with a van full of oscilloscopes and flashing lights to test the brainwaves of left handed musicians. Great fun. Seems there's a high correlation between musicianship and left-handedness that they wanted to explore.

This discussion has been archived and is no longer accepting responses.

Facebook Twitter YouTube Instagram Email

Violinist.com is made possible by...

Shar Music
Shar Music

Yamaha Silent Violin
Yamaha Silent Violin

Pirastro Strings
Pirastro Strings

Find a Summer Music Program
Find a Summer Music Program

Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases
Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases

Violinist.com Business Directory
Violinist.com Business Directory

Violinist.com Guide to Online Learning
Violinist.com Guide to Online Learning

Dominant Pro Strings

Antonio Strad Violin

Bay Fine Strings Violin Shop

Bobelock Cases

Fiddlerman.com

Fiddlershop

Los Angeles Violin Shop

Nazareth Gevorkian Violins

Violin-Strings.com

Metzler Violin Shop

Leatherwood Bespoke Rosin

Warchal

Barenreiter

Johnson String Instrument and Carriage House Violins

Potter Violins

String Masters

Bein & Company

Annapolis Bows & Violins

Laurie's Books

Discover the best of Violinist.com in these collections of editor Laurie Niles' exclusive interviews.

Violinist.com Interviews Volume 1
Violinist.com Interviews Volume 1, with introduction by Hilary Hahn

Violinist.com Interviews Volume 2
Violinist.com Interviews Volume 2, with introduction by Rachel Barton Pine

Subscribe