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Busker

Left Handed Surprise!

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I started a new pupil, some six months ago. 16 yr old lad who is doing very well.

At his last lesson I asked his Mum in to listen to a duet we were playing.

Mum commented that he was playing well considering he was left handed! Stupid me! I missed this and glad I did for he is flying. Standard violin held in his left hand - He says he feels comfortable.

I won't be changing a thing! Busker.

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Isn't about one out of ten people left handed? So the odds are pretty high that there are string players in orchestras and ensembles who are left handed. And yet you don't see reverse playing, bow in left hand, in those groups -- for good reason: The number of fine instruments set up for reverse playing is very limited. You've allowed your student a lot more freedom in picking the groups he can play in and the instruments he can select.

Unless there is a really good physiological reason for doing so, no teacher should burden a student with a reversed playing position, with violin in right hand and bow in left.

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Fiddler Ashley MacIsaac is left handed, and I think he actually plays a regularly set up fiddle, backwards. But I guess to make it right you would need a fiddle built for a lefty, sound post and bass bar on the other side......

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I have seen a few of these specifically listed on ebay recently, made by a company that I believe is a corporate sponsor of this website. I suppose that there are some people /kids who are SO dominant with the left hand that they cannot learn to play "right-handed" but desire to play anyway. Why refuse them the gift of playing just because they have to go about it in the opposite direction?

(Yes, I KNOW it's hard to teach left handed if you're a righty- and I know that in orchestras, it will be a pain to the lefty's neighbors, but c'mon- give them the chance to make the music!)

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I am left handed as well and play a standard violin setup held the traditional way. My own personal experience is that I suffered no major impediments whilst learning because of this. In actual fact many others have attested that I developed my vibrato types much more easily than my peers. It is also something that does not require any practice or maintenance. It just came very easily and naturally and remains so. On the other hand, I have to spend an inordinate amount of time keeping my bow arm in good playing condition. I am not saying my bow arm is bad. It gets the job done. But it does require a huge amount of time and work to keep it that way. Specific bow exercises are a major portion of my practice schedule. Additionally, I will keep a violin out on the table in the loungeroom and do bow exercises whenever I am watching TV and the ad breaks come on. I have to. It's the only way to keep the bow arm at the same standard as the rest of me!

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I'm also a lefty and the same thing is true about the right hand. I saw a few places where people were using right hand facility to teach the left hand technique of vibrato, i.e. they mimed the vibrato with the right (dominant) hand and then imitated the movement with the left. That got me thinking of doing something similar with the bowing hand, especially in achieving simple flexibility. In any case, I began realizing that I should be concentrating much more on the right than on the left.

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I'm left-handed and have always played 'normally"--the thought of playing any other way is absurd. I consider it an advantage--it gives me more facility and flexibility in my fingering hand. Vibrato and hard sequences came more naturally than they do to my peers. I've found the same thing with my left-handed students (3 out of 10!)

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For classical violin, left or right handedness makes no difference to how the person should hold the violin. Usually the only time you'll see a reverse setup is when the person has some sort of problem with the left hand.

That said, however, the muscles of the hand are likely to be less developed in the right hand of a lefty, therefore extra attention should to developing the bow-arm, particuarly the bow-strokes that involve fine motor control by the muscles of the hand.

With traditional fiddling, I assume the person may be more likely to pick it up on their own rather than being shown how to hold the instrument, plus it's less of an issue because they don't sit in orchestra.

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As a righty, I've wondered what the point of a reversed set up would be. I would not have thought that the bow hand was so highly affected by handedness, it would have seemed that the greater dexterity (sinisterity??) on the left would be a leg up for a lefty. I guess that one way of another we have to put more effort into controlling our "off" hand.

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I can't speak for those who are left handed, but I've always thought it's far better for a left-handed person learning to play the violin to begin in the same manner as a right-handed person. At that stage, it's awkward either way. A right-handed person who has never held a violin before will almost certainly experience this. He or she has to start from square one in developing a whole new level of mental and physical coordination.

A left-handed beginner might as well accept one additional degree of awkwardness and take the same approach. As the muscle memory begins to develop, it will feel more and more natural to play the violin that way. And then he or she won't have the problem of trying to find acceptable left-handed instruments or appearing to be a reverse image of other string players in an ensemble.

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'For classical violin, left or right handedness makes no difference to how the person should hold the violin. Usually the only time you'll see a reverse setup is when the person has some sort of problem with the left hand.'

- I agree completely. Both hands are so important and used in unison that it makes no difference. I'm not sure why anyone would want a 'reversed' instrument. It should make no difference, on the other hand it would certainly make learning/teaching harder and reduce professional opportunity.

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Over my 25 year teaching career I have had only two students who were left handed , but insisted vehemently on playing on the right with a reverse set-up. It seemed almost like a psychological necessity for them. Unfortunately, unlike the majority of my other students, they never seemed very comfortable, and did not stick with the violin. All my other lefties who play the normal way have done well. I am sure there are exceptions.

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I always thought the violin was left handed to begin with! I always wondered why guitar players bother with left handed instruments. You gotta use both hands anyway.

Dwight

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I have studied at a conservatory for 2 years as a right handed student as my instructor would not teach me to play left handed. On many occasions I would be studying a bow stroke or set of strokes and having much difficulty with it. I could usually turn the violin around left handed and play it the first time upside down using the left hand on the bow.

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Something many of the posters on this thread might want to browse:

http://www.terjemoehansen.com/

I think it helps if one references an expert on the subject, rather than speculate.

-E

I must be missing something because I can't find anything in that link that directly relates to this discussion. I also don't understand why you resurrected a 4-year-old thread to post it.

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If you have any doubt about the difficulty, just switch hands and try it the other way. I think you'll be surprised. Bowing is the problem, not fingering.

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"I must be missing something because I can't find anything in that link that directly relates to this discussion. I also don't understand why you resurrected a 4-year-old thread to post it.

Did you take a look at the picture gallery? If so, did you happen to catch that the pedagogue on the site is playing left handed?

A left handed violin pedagogue might have better insight into playing that way. Rather than speculate, we should ask him.

The 4-year old post was perfect background. Also, because the online application allows me to do so. Much quicker than staring a new thread.

-E

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"I must be missing something because I can't find anything in that link that directly relates to this discussion. I also don't understand why you resurrected a 4-year-old thread to post it.

Did you take a look at the picture gallery? If so, did you happen to catch that the pedagogue on the site is playing left handed?

A left handed violin pedagogue might have better insight into playing that way. Rather than speculate, we should ask him.

The 4-year old post was perfect background. Also, because the online application allows me to do so. Much quicker than staring a new thread.

-E

Ah, I see. I went straight to the articles and missed that little picture on the his front page! I suppose I also would have figured it out if I'd read his bio...

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I started the bass at a nine. I was tall and my elementary orchestra need a bass player.

I'm lefty and I automatically held the bow with the left hand. I was 9 years old and adult were

always correcting me. I played a week as a lefty, was told that I was doing it wrong, I switched hands and that was that. It should be difficult to learn to play correction when you are young.

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