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Left Handed - what to do?


Guido
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8 hours ago, Rue said:

But all that takes years to develop - by the time you can finesse that level of control, you have developed that level of control.

We have the ability for fine control in both our hands...

That's true, but as Marty says fine finger control isn't the whole story. As another illustration of how our two arms aren't equivalent in musical performance, left-handed conductors are almost as rare as left-handed violinists. It's the baton hand that calls the shots, and of course historically orchestras were usually directed by the concertmaster's bow.

Another thing worth considering - only about 20% of left-handers have brains that truly seem to be wired the opposite way from right-handers (language function being the best-known example) and it's that small number that I think would gain from being allowed to play left-handed violins. Once lefty's lib gets established in the musical world they'll want their own cellos, flutes, trombones, the lot. No problem in the era of the socially-distanced orchestra!

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On 8/1/2020 at 6:49 AM, FiddleDoug said:

Just don't ever plan on playing in an orchestra left handed! They will not tolerate the possibility of bow interference between players. They all need to go in the same direction!

I had to sit next to a lefty one summer at the Aspen Festival.  It was only mildly uncomfortable. You could not have the lefty sit on the outside as you can imagine. 

Although I don't remember if that player was from a major orchestra, I'd be willing to bet that these days there'd be a heck of a law suit if it could be proven an orchestra didn't hire a player because he/she was left handed.  Interesting question to pose to a personnel manager.

 

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It seems to me that it is only (some) string players have this problem with left-hand right-hand orientation. Those of us who have played since the year dot just learned to play the instrument as designed - no questions asked. Do we hear the orientation of wind instruments questioned? No

Just imagine what it would be like if everything we do had to be done according to whether we are left-handed or right-handed. For example, driving a car - right handed peolpe drive on the right side, left-handed people on the left. Can you imagine the carnage in somewhere like London or New York. The roads are bad enough without that sort of problem.

Stringed instruments of the violin family were designed, long before Stradivarius and his pals, to be bowed with the right hand and the tunes created by the left hand. Both hands have equal strength - it's just that the strength is used in different ways.

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This morning I noticed that this was happening: We have a new dog crate. The door on it opens opposite to what the old door did. I've been having trouble latching the new door.

I am right-handed.

Well - turns out I was using my left hand all these years to latch the old crate door. Now I have to switch to my right (dominant) hand.

I never really thought it would be harder to use my dominant hand - for a dominant hand task.

Point is (I think <_<) that your hands adapt - and that we are underestimating what our hands can do. If we believe that we have to do things with one hand or the other, even if it's not actually true, it's still going to be what we think is true. :blink:

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6 hours ago, Rue said:

Point is (I think <_<) that your hands adapt - and that we are underestimating what our hands can do. If we believe that we have to do things with one hand or the other, even if it's not actually true, it's still going to be what we think is true. :blink:

True without a doubt, but what would you say about natural left-handers being taught to write with their right hand? Current consensus seems to be that that forced left/right adaptation of writing skills isn't a good idea, even at a young age when the body/brain is most adaptable.

This is undoubtedly connected with asymmetry of brain function, which can also be demonstrated for some aspects of musical perception. There's an area in the right temporal cortex that appears to respond more strongly to tonal sounds than the equivalent area on the left, except in about 20% of left-handers. I was quite sceptical of this finding that we published 20-odd years ago, since is seems to coincide all too neatly with the proportion of left-handers who are right-hemisphere dominant for language, but statistically it was pretty solid.

Somewhere in this thread I argued that the right hand is for most people the natural bowing hand because the right arm is the "executive" one - you may as well say "dominant". I think the dominant hand is also the one that naturally "writes" the music in the ether.

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Again - writing is a one-handed activity. That's different than two hands having equal, but different, activities to engage in.

If we want to (as we seem to have a predilection for) complicate it further - does eye dominance figure in? We also "see" while we play.

Most right-handed people are also right-eye dominant.

I am left-eye dominant. 

...muddying the waters...:ph34r:

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2 hours ago, Rue said:

Again - writing is a one-handed activity. That's different than two hands having equal, but different, activities to engage in.

If we want to (as we seem to have a predilection for) complicate it further - does eye dominance figure in? We also "see" while we play.

Yup. Many people are so desperate for a "cause", or a reason to justify their existence, that they will microphuck with anything, and pretend that it matters.

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48 minutes ago, Rue said:

Again - writing is a one-handed activity. That's different than two hands having equal, but different, activities to engage in.

If we want to (as we seem to have a predilection for) complicate it further - does eye dominance figure in? We also "see" while we play.

I think you can adjust posture slightly to adjust for eye dominance, but now I'm wondering about ergonomically difficult stand partners.  Hmm...

 

In general, I think the idea of a "left-handed" violin being held in the right hand to be absurd.  Surely, you're talking about a "right-handed" violin.  Or if you want to sound less ridiculous (since handedness doesn't really enter into it) you could say a violin set-up for use by the right hand.  If someone is thinking that they should play on a violin set up for use by the right hand because they are left-handed... they should be convinced that they are wrong.  It will make many aspects of their violin education difficult.

There are plenty of reasons to play violin set-up for use by the right hand.  Left-handedness alone is not a good one.

Signed,

Someone Sporting a Perpetually Pen-or-Pencil-Smudged Pinky

 

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32 minutes ago, Stephen Fine said:

I think you can adjust posture slightly to adjust for eye dominance, but now I'm wondering about ergonomically difficult stand partners.  Hmm...

 

In general, I think the idea of a "left-handed" violin being held in the right hand to be absurd.  Surely, you're talking about a "right-handed" violin.  Or if you want to sound less ridiculous (since handedness doesn't really enter into it) you could say a violin set-up for use by the right hand.  If someone is thinking that they should play on a violin set up for use by the right hand because they are left-handed... they should be convinced that they are wrong.  It will make many aspects of their violin education difficult.

There are plenty of reasons to play violin set-up for use by the right hand.  Left-handedness alone is not a good one.

Signed,

Someone Sporting a Perpetually Pen-or-Pencil-Smudged Pinky

 

How many great tennis players wouldn't we have had if they'd been coached into playing with their "wrong" arm? How many naturally left-handed violinists never achieved their full potential or gave up entirely because their teacher said it was wrong to do it that way? But I guess David is right and it really doesn't matter

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20 minutes ago, matesic said:

How many great tennis players wouldn't we have had if they'd been coached into playing with their "wrong" arm? How many naturally left-handed violinists never achieved their full potential or gave up entirely because their teacher said it was wrong to do it that way? But I guess David is right and it really doesn't matter

We will never know...and again (broken record syndrome) tennis is a one-armed endeavour.

Violinists?  Probably none.

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1 hour ago, matesic said:

How many great tennis players wouldn't we have had if they'd been coached into playing with their "wrong" arm? How many naturally left-handed violinists never achieved their full potential or gave up entirely because their teacher said it was wrong to do it that way? But I guess David is right and it really doesn't matter

I am not prepared to claim that it is right or wrong.  Can you? Surely, a left-handed tennis player can have some sort of advantage, simply because that will not be the bulk of an opponents's  experience

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I know probably almost nobody will do this,  but I offer a simple demonstration of handedness:  try brushing your teeth, or peeling a potato, with your non-dominant hand. Both are very simple tasks; there are no right-handed toothbrushes or potato peelers.  I think just one try will give you some insight into why we left-handers  prefer to play violin left-handed (violin playing is a little more complicated than toothbrushing).   

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Sure - but - if you've been brushing your teeth (with whichever hand) for your entire life, of course it's going to feel odd, awkward, strange, etc., when you change for the sake of changing.

Now - what if, from Day 1 of brushing your teeth, you spent half the time brushing with your right hand and then half the time brushing with your left hand?  Would both hands be equally comfortable brushing your teeth?

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27 minutes ago, Alma said:

I know probably almost nobody will do this,  but I offer a simple demonstration of handedness:  try brushing your teeth, or peeling a potato, with your non-dominant hand. Both are very simple tasks; there are no right-handed toothbrushes or potato peelers.  I think just one try will give you some insight into why we left-handers  prefer to play violin left-handed (violin playing is a little more complicated than toothbrushing).   

That is not a demonstration of "handedness" but a demonstration of practice and experience. Most likely, a person brushing their teeth or peeling a potato will do it most efficiently with whichever hand they have been using the longest for that task.

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10 hours ago, Alma said:

I'd love to survey top violinists to establish how many of them were forced to play right-handed instead of left-handed.

I suspect there are very few because after having been forced to switch it's that much harder to reach the top. One such, though, could have been Reinhard Goebel who eventually went the other way after "unexplained paralysis" struck his right hand. Doesn't this suggest to you he may have been a repressed lefty? If it didn't impair his finger dexterity it seems likely that, like other bow-arm problems, the paralysis was either a focal dystonia or what's now known as a "functional neurological disorder" (which Freud might have called a neurosis). It's also interesting in his case that he didn't start learning until the age of 12

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I have several colleagues in my (professional, salaried) orchestra who are left handed. It's quite common and I think at least proportional to the general population. I don't get the sense that any of them consider their left handedness either an advantage or disadvantage. I'm right handed and I would say my bowing is my weakest aspect... Violin is difficult either way for both hands, and there doesn't seem much sense in limiting the instruments available for use with no benefit. 

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2 hours ago, Alma said:

What are we arguing about?  That is it immoral to play left-handed? Or that it is unnecessary, and therefore foolish, stupid, or anti-social?  

 

1. I'm arguing that the violin is not a 'handed' instrument.

2. To turn it into one is A. unneccessary and complicates finding an instrument and learning the instrument (may not be able to find a teacher who can properly reverse-teach all the minuetea involved in the physical part of playing and B. may lead to annoying issues in the future of the player (say they want to play in an orchestra). 

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On 8/1/2020 at 11:27 AM, Guido said:

Wondering about violins for left handed players.

I appreciate there is the option to suck it up and play like a right handed player... but if you really want to hold bow in you left hand... how far do you go with adjustments/ conversions to the violin?

And then for fractional instruments: with how little conversion can you get away? Just a new bridge and chin rest? I.e., how does a violin sound with a bass bar under the e-string and the sound post under the g-string...?

 

 

Violins in the usual configuration are most suited to left handed people.

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