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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
All classical string players seem to bow only with the right hand.
Obviously in an orchestral setting bowing in different directions could put someones eye out but are there any statistics on left handed string players- soloists or ensemble?
I know left handed people who play the guitar right handed but feel their technique has been limited by doing so.
 

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A long time ago... a VERY long time ago- I had a nearly two-year-long relationship with a left-hander who was a violin performer (including study at Interlochen National Music Camp, and a stint in the University Orchestra). In keeping with what is tantamount to a mandatory practice, she played her instrument in the conventional way.

The impression I got from her was- the additional struggles with her bow-arm
were compensated by her heightened aptitude with the fingerboard.
 

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I played chamber music with two left-handed violinists during the last month. One of them had rather obvious bow issues, but the other is fine in both hands (but I think she might be ambidextrous).

Noted conductor Paavo Berglund was a violinist and is left-handed, and he plays opposite to normal. He was in an orchestra as well, and apparently they needed to put him in a back stand so he could bow without poking eyes out.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I guess there is no such thing as a left hand piano but I wonder what percentage of great virtuosii are left handed. And I wonder if Paavo Berglund, for example, strung his violin backwards too.

My son is left handed but I taught him to play guitar right handed because he'd then be able to pick up anyone's guitar and play. I got a shock when after a few years he was singing along to a rock track and strumming 'air' guitar- but backwards to the way he actually plays real guitar! Eek!
 

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As a teacher who has taught both left and right handed violinists (I also have a left handed husband who is a professional cellist) I have come to the conclusion that there is no advantage or disadvantage to be left handed.
The truth about violin playing is that both bowing and fingering are difficult. No hand is more important than the other and neither has an easier job. Being right handed, my left hand doesn't feel hindered in any way now that I've mastered violin technique, and some of my most accomplished violin students are left handed and their bow arm is great!

Hope this helps!
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
As a teacher who has taught both left and right handed violinists (I also have a left handed husband who is a professional cellist) I have come to the conclusion that there is no advantage or disadvantage to be left handed.
The truth about violin playing is that both bowing and fingering are difficult. No hand is more important than the other and neither has an easier job. Being right handed, my left hand doesn't feel hindered in any way now that I've mastered violin technique, and some of my most accomplished violin students are left handed and their bow arm is great!

Hope this helps!
Thanks, it's something I've wondered about. I guessed it must be the case but it would be interesting to know if the proportion of left handed professional string players is the same as in other occupations.
 

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A weird thought

I have been reading this thread with interest and amusement. At one point a weird thought occurred to me: Suppose a large group of left hand musicians who play bowed string instruments, violins, violas, celli and double basses, 'the wrong way', i.e., right hand fingering and left hand bowing, decide to establish their own orchestra, what would be their seating arrangement? In order for the string instruments to face the audience, it would have to be a mirror image of the standard seating arrangement. This would not necessarily be the case for the wind instruments and the percussions.

Any other considerations?
 

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hi id just like to mention a few things regarding left handed violinists as i am one ( and also the conversion process one might undertake).

firstly, i attempted to learn the instrument the traditional way but found that i couldnt develop a fluent bowing technique adequate to make me feel like i was making sufficient progress. it never occurred to me that it might even be possible to play left handed as id never seen nor heard of a single lefty violinist in existence. personally i write left handed, i play sports with a mixture of both right and left orientations so its not unnatural for me to use my left hand.

after approximately 4 years of collecting dust i decided one day to dig out my violin and investigate whether converting the violin to left hand would be viable after the reallisation that i might be better suited using my left hand as the bowing hand due to my existing preference for writing, playing tennis with the left etc . after a few searches (courtesy of that wonderland of commerce that is ebay) i purchased a peg shaver, 4 new pegs, and a special tool to re-ream the holes so that the pegs could be reversed (a lot of care is needed to be taken when re-reaming holes) . the pegs i notice definately need to be reversed so that i can avoid knocking the peg when playing notes close to the scroll on the fingerboard when playing the e string. in the "right handed" placement the peg knocks the 4th finger making it impossible to play F / F# without hitting wood. as for the bridge it is simply reversed so it isnt at all an issue (minor shaving when required). the curvature of the fingerboard is uniform from what ive read so another obstacle is successfully overcome. unfortunately from what ive read the soundpost is definately an issue but doesnt impact on the sound quality to the the detriment of the instrument too much (although if anybody believes this not to be the case let me know). i definately enjoy the sound from my converted violin as opposed to a custom made left handed "GLIGA" that ive also bought since, so although the soundposts position might incrementally improve the sound, in a general sense i really dont see the need to pay a luthier to rip the top off just to attend to the alignment of the soundpost.

left handed players arent being difficult or desire to be different simply for the attention (or at least im not) which seems to be the opinion of a few who have replied to various lefty threads and a certain lady ive dealt at a local music store (even though im roughly half way through completing practical/theoretical grades for possible university entrance). its a little patronising to be asked whether you really "have to" play left handed, especially if your quite a few shades more developed than simply "enthusiastic beginner". if i could play right handed i would and ive definately not appreciated having to labour through the extended path ive currently taken to get where i am. the amount of time wasted to reallise that im orientated in a particular fashion would definately of been better allocated to practice.

as for a few issues that seem to polarise people in regards to southpaws, i really dont see why people think orchestras cant accomodate left handed players.
statistically, depending on whose data you obtain the total population of left handers accounts for somewhere between 8-15%. even taking the larger number into account that would mean (all things fair and equal) that a little under 1 in 6 left handed people should potentially be making up the numbers (obviously at 8% that would increase the ratio to roughly 1 in 12). if we take the instruments in question that pose an issue in regards to bowing - violin (1st and 2nd), cello, viola and double bass it is quite possible to place the statistically probable number of leftys on the end of each row without having to redesign the entire layout significantly.
the only problem seems to be the violas wedged in between the 2nd violinists and the cellists. i would envisage an extra gap of 1-2 metres would need to be made to accomodate the left handed viola players.

a 1-2 metre wide gap of concert hall space isnt a sufficient argument to prohibit someone playing in an orchestra!

another reason that people allege is true for not allowing left handed violinists into the club is because it doesnt look very nice to have violinists bowing in different directions which is also quite amusing. as far as i was concerned sound is received through those ear receptacle devices not through visual means. if your simply not satisfied with the sound of the live orchestra due to the appearance of a particular violinists bowing you might be better served sitting at home with your headphones on listening to the orchestra in question playing some dreary lament whilst watching the fashion channel on cable. that way even if one of the orchestras players is left handed you can avoid being visually offended by his/her playing by staring at scantily cladded whisps sauntering down a runway at milan fashion week.

and anyway if you disagree with vioinists being left handed barracks got all our southpaw backs. we obviously mean business !!!! ;);)

in answer to a few specific posts in this thread

jurianbai - no need to correct the bridge. the strings get swapped as well so its quite effortless. the only issues are swapping pegs overs and the soundpost which as ive mentioned would need a specialist to attend to. this is a little outside of my limited expertise.

standswithafiddle - i dont know why you would try to force someone to do something that comes unnaturally. personally my current teacher was a little apprehensive about teaching me since i was the first left handed student she'd ever taught but ive been taking lessons for about 2-3 years now and although we'd occasionally confuse each other it really hasnt been a significant issue. if your students are left handed they're more likely to develop a fluent bowing style faster with their dominant hand. depending on how reliant your left handed students are on their left hand, you may have curtailed their development by forcing them to attempt to use the weaker and less coordinated of their hands. i hope you reconsider your policy of making these students play only right handed as it may be prolonging the learning process and hindering their enjoyment. its also potentially making your job more arduous and less enjoyable.

jhansen_violin - id agree with most of what you said except for their being no disadvantage for left handers.

in a mechanical sense theres obviously no disadvantage but there still reigns this deluded belief that its a nuisance for orchestras and at best a novelty.

like i mentioned previously if their was proportional representation in orchestras in regards to left handed players the numbers would reflect more appropriately, but they dont and thats no advantage i know of.
 

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Wow this thread has been dead for a while. I just found this site.. I am a lefty, I play my electric violin left handed. I play my own music, as well as cover songs. I have never had a formal lesson, I taught myself. I do not understand why the teachers and so called professionals always shove "oh you must play right handed" down a left handed person's throat. now come on.. many left handed players and people learn by mirror images or as me lots of practice. don't let the hype scare you ..
as once said by Shakespeare.. " If music is the words of love, then play on" and play till your hearts content.
 

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I dont really see a reason for a left-hand piano, as it isnt a difficult instrument to play, but...I do have something to say about being a left-handed violinist.

I am a left-handed lady, and am learning violin. I found, one day, while practicing, that I just picked up the violin with my right hand, and started to play! it just came naturally. I was wondering, since I am learning violin right-handed, if anyone has done that, just naturally.

Also, someone asked about left-handed composers (classical). I found that Beethoven, Rachmaninov (sp!), CPE Bach, and Mozart were all left-handed. I wonder how many more were! It is very logical to find so many lefties in the classical arena, though, considering what is known about left vs right brained people!
I bet that too many classical composers were leftys. They learned to play the right-handed way, instead of that sinister hand, and still the sinister handed ones won out!!!! (sinister hand is what the left handed person was called back in the 1500-1800's!)
 

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I have an eight year old daughter who picks up my violin often and plays left handed. I've tried to get her to play right handed, but it's so unnatural for her that she just puts it down. And then a few hours later she's playing again and doesn't even realize she's playing left handed.

I had thought, before doing a google search and seeing this post, that lefties had to play right handed. But I see that is not the case. She is so obviously left-handed in playing the violin that it seems I either chose to let her play left handed or she probably won't be interested in it.

Now the search for a teacher who's willing to teach a leftie!
 

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I've asked this question in QA thread. The bridge is not symetrical in violin, is this need to be altered?
Its not just the bridge. The body of the violin is not symmetrical inside. Under the G string side of the bridge inside the violin is the bass bar and on the other side, inside, is the sound post. A left handed bowed violin has to be altered so that the bass bar remains under the the G string, and the sound post on the opposite side. This is why it is likely to be cheaper to buy a new violin that has been built this way round.
 

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Over the years I've played a few different types of instruments with varying degrees of success, even the accordian for 7-8 years. Now after a very long hiatus I want to make music again and have decided to take up the violin and learn to play. It's not because I aspire to perform in concert, but because this instrument has the ability to sing in a way that truely moves me. The biggest obstacle for me to overcome is the stigma of being left-handed in the string world. The majority of the opinion I've encountered is very negative and less than helpful. The available technical information for left-handers (lessons, charting, videos, helpful hints, etc.) is pretty thin. I have acquired a true left-handed instrument and have started to teach myself the fundamentals by reversing the right-handed materials. It's not easy, but I will not be deterred from the goal. Still the question remains. Why does the general population of professional string musicians have such a distain for left-handed players and why is it next to impossible to obtain high quality training materials. For me, it's about the music! When I listen to talented musicians play good music (regardless of genre) I don't hear with the left or right ear, but both. Beautiful music crosses boundaries and lifts the soul. I may never be capable of playing at a concert professional level, but with the right materials and training I can certainly provide quality music for those in my household or local community. So if anyone out there can help provide some positive direction or help me score the proper materials I need to become the best version of myself, it would be greatly appreciated.
 

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This video will inspire you. Left-handed adult violinist after 3 years.

Find a teacher who is willing to teach you left-handed, and I hope you enjoy playing music! As long as you don't have the goal of playing in an orchestra, you should be OK.
 

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I've asked this question in QA thread. The bridge is not symetrical in violin, is this need to be altered?
The violin is not symmetrical. If you look into the f hole on the bass side next to the G string you will see stuck to the inside of the top a long piece of wood, this is the bass bar. On the other side near the E string is the sound post. It is not just a question of having a new bridge, you need to get a violin that has been built the other way round.
 
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