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Left or Right?
First life's story as a violing student
Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 (1 votes) 
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Mozart
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February 1, 2014 - 7:24 pm
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Hi everyone. For those that missed my somewhat brief introduction, my name is George, I'm 39 years young and I reside in Brisbane Australia.

 

When I was 8 or 9 my parents bought me my first violin and signed me up to some private tuition. Being so long ago, I don't recall much, other than just not being fascinated or interested in the violin. The smell of the rosin, the screechy sounds, the contorted wrists, the old teacher with the weird accent .. it all annoyed me. So at the first opportunity, I quietly quit.

 

Since then, I have had plenty of time to reflect on why I never took to the violin. After much soul searching, I concluded that it was because I was a left hander trying to play a right-handed instrument. So a couple of months ago I made the decision to take up the violin again, but this time I would re-learn on the left hand (holding the bow with the left).

 

So off I went and bought a $55 violin. I held it up to my chin and grasped the bow with the left and attempted to get some sound out of it. Holding it left handed felt weird and it took me a couple of days just to get the bow to stop skating across the fingerboard. Of course, the violin itself was a right handed instrument, so it was awkward to play left handed anyway.

 

Within a few days I was pleased with my progress, so I bought an electric Cecilio violin made specifically left handed. Played it for about a week or so, before deciding (out of curiosity) to pick up the first violin (the $55 one), and see if I could play it the çorrect' way, holding the bow with the right hand.

 

Well, this was only two days ago and the result was actually very surprising. Not only was I bowing cleanly with my right, but my left hand was doing all the right things on the fingerboard. It seems like I have actually retained a lot from my childhood violin playing.

 

I wont lie, my left hand can do things with the bow that my right hand cannot (for example good, dense tremolo). But maybe with a lot of practise I can overcome that sort of thing.

 

Which is why I am now undecided and a bit frustrated with whether I should re-learn the violin with my left or right.

 

Maybe someone else has an opinion on it?

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Ferret
Byron Bay Australia
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February 2, 2014 - 2:34 am
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Hi from Byron Bay. Just down the road from you. hats_off 

Was in 'Brisy' last week :)

 

All that i'd point out is that, if you learn right handed, you have many more violins available to you in the future. 'Leftys' always get short changed on choice :)

Seen it all. Done it all. Can't remember most of dunno ..... What was I saying???? facepalm

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RosinedUp
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February 2, 2014 - 3:19 am
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I believe that playing left-handed would exclude you from all or most orchestras.

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Mozart
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February 3, 2014 - 5:51 am
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Ferret said
Hi from Byron Bay. Just down the road from you. hats_off 

Was in 'Brisy' last week :)

 

All that i'd point out is that, if you learn right handed, you have many more violins available to you in the future. 'Leftys' always get short changed on choice :)

Hi Ferret. Would you believe I've never made it to Byron Bay proper? Furthest south I've been is the Tweed Coast, which ranks as one of my favorite places on earth by the way.

Yeah I know, playing left handed has some disadvantages. Maybe I'm better off pursuing another hobby :)

 

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Fiddlerman
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February 3, 2014 - 7:23 am
Member Since: September 26, 2010
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Welcome to the forum Mozart,
Very interesting topic. As others have said, the available future choices on a normal right hand violin are far better and greater. Also, left handed people play right handed violins almost exclusively. The only time I recommend doing the opposite is when a person has a handicap of some sort or missing a finger on the left hand. Left handers actually have some advantages over right handers at times concerning bow control. :-)
In any case, happy to have you here and I hope this pursuit becomes a fun and successful journey towards perfecting one of the greatest instruments on this planet. ;-)

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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Poke
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February 3, 2014 - 3:09 pm
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Hi George,

I am 39 myself and also left handed. The difference between us, besides geographic, is that I have never played violin before and am at about 1 month experience.

I too wrestled with the left/right problem. I do (as I'm sure many lefties do) many things right handed or both already because sometimes its just easier to conform than to fight the establishment.

I almost bought a left handed set-up though. I was soooo close, especially after reading comments by some like they just couldn't teach a left handed person anything. I think that says more about their teaching ability. Anyway, I degress.

 

I chose finally to give right handed a shot, mainly because I felt I had a bit more dexterity in my left hand and might have some advantage there. I also wanted the "option" of joining an orchestra (in my wildest dreams). However there are many examples of famous left handed violinists who sat in their own row so don't let that stop you.

I have definitely had to overcome an "awkwardness" holding the bow with my right hand. It seems to effortlessly fit into my left. And so far I don't have any advantage with my fumbling fingers of my left hand, but that will hopefully change with practice.

 

My advice, since lefties are naturally ambidextrous, is do both. Since you've got both a left and right set-up learn them both at the same time. See what works better one way over the other, and maybe that will help your overall ability.

 

Damon

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Mad_Wed
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February 3, 2014 - 3:25 pm
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I don't know much left-handed violinists in person, but my teacher said that all of those that she taught or saw play in a regular way.dunno

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RosinedUp
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February 3, 2014 - 3:35 pm
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SLwPoke said
... However there are many examples of famous left handed violinists who sat in their own row ...

That's really interesting.  Can you give some leads on that?  IDK that it was common to have left-handed string players in an orchestra.

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Poke
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February 3, 2014 - 4:06 pm
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SLwPoke said ... However there are many examples of famous left handed violinists who sat in their own row ...

That's really interesting.  Can you give some leads on that?  IDK that it was common to have left-handed string players in an orchestra.

 

I don't think it's common and didn't mean to imply that. But it's not unheard of

Paavo Allan Engelbert Berglund OBE (Helsinki, 14 April 1929 – Helsinki, 25 January 2012) was a Finnish conductor and violinist. He was a violinist in the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra from 1949–1958 in the 1st violin section, unique among the instrumentalists in being accommodated for seating to account for the fact that he was left-handed.

Not all below were in orchestras, but many were.

From Wikipedia:

  • Richard Barth was born in Saxony and from 1863 to 1867 studied with the renowned violinist Joseph Joachim. Barth used his left hand for bowing and his right hand for fingering and so played the violin "in reverse." Nonetheless, he was successful as a violinist and served as concertmaster of orchestras in Munster,[2] Krefeld and Marburg and headed a string quartet
  • Charles Chaplin
  • Rudolf Kolisch
  • Terje Moe Hansen (Norwegian classical virtuoso and pedagogue)
  • Katrina Pearce (champion folk fiddler, plays "over the bass" with strings reversed)
  • Ryan J. Thomson (naturally right-handed, but learned to play left-handed after developing focal dystonia that made right-handed bowing impossible)
  • Ornette Coleman
  • Ashley MacIsaac
  • Martin Weiss (French jazz violinist who plays in the style of Stéphane Grappelli)
  • Jurgen Kussmaul (violist)
  • Rivka Mandelkern
  • Ian Rey Bañez
  • Nic Norman Tugaff (Philippines) Mormon Violinist
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Mozart
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February 4, 2014 - 4:48 am
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Fiddlerman said
Welcome to the forum Mozart,
Very interesting topic. As others have said, the available future choices on a normal right hand violin are far better and greater. Also, left handed people play right handed violins almost exclusively. The only time I recommend doing the opposite is when a person has a handicap of some sort or missing a finger on the left hand. Left handers actually have some advantages over right handers at times concerning bow control. :-)
In any case, happy to have you here and I hope this pursuit becomes a fun and successful journey towards perfecting one of the greatest instruments on this planet. ;-)

Hi Fiddlerman.

Thanks for the welcome and the advice.

Like many other members here picking up the violin a bit later in life, I don't aspire to being the next Yitzhak. For me it's about having a bit of fun and expanding my musical knowledge.

So at the end of the day, playing left or right probably won't have a huge impact on the end result. As long as I can play something one day with conviction and emotion, that is all I want really.

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Mozart
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February 4, 2014 - 4:59 am
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SLwPoke said
Hi George,

I am 39 myself and also left handed. The difference between us, besides geographic, is that I have never played violin before and am at about 1 month experience.

I too wrestled with the left/right problem. I do (as I'm sure many lefties do) many things right handed or both already because sometimes its just easier to conform than to fight the establishment.

I almost bought a left handed set-up though. I was soooo close, especially after reading comments by some like they just couldn't teach a left handed person anything. I think that says more about their teaching ability. Anyway, I degress.

 

I chose finally to give right handed a shot, mainly because I felt I had a bit more dexterity in my left hand and might have some advantage there. I also wanted the "option" of joining an orchestra (in my wildest dreams). However there are many examples of famous left handed violinists who sat in their own row so don't let that stop you.

I have definitely had to overcome an "awkwardness" holding the bow with my right hand. It seems to effortlessly fit into my left. And so far I don't have any advantage with my fumbling fingers of my left hand, but that will hopefully change with practice.

 

My advice, since lefties are naturally ambidextrous, is do both. Since you've got both a left and right set-up learn them both at the same time. See what works better one way over the other, and maybe that will help your overall ability.

 

Damon

Hi Damon.

At last, someone who feels my pain! Lol

Thanks for your reply, it puts things in perspective.

I'll continue right handed and see what the result is. Who knows, maybe us lefties do have an advantage after all (legato and vibrato the way it's MEANT to be done :))

I look forward to hearing about your progress and maybe comparing notes at some stage.

Good luck!

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TonicScale
Camarillo California
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February 20, 2014 - 7:23 pm
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Hey Y'all, I read this topic the day I joined.  Just last week actually.  I was interested as I play guitar both left and right handed.  I'm mostly left but write and eat right handed... Currently learning to play fiddle Righty as it just feels best.

Anyway, I watched this vid and saw this gal pop up on this awesome version of OBS.  She is a lefty... Great Jam... I think she's like third up... check it out...

Great topic @Mozart 

 

 

A Painter Paints Pictures On Canvas...

Musicians Paint Their Pictures On Silence...

==

 

...

 

 

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Fiddlestix
Michigan, USA
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February 20, 2014 - 7:42 pm
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Yep, she's playing left handed, but she's also playing a left handed fiddle. 

This girl is left handed, but playing a right handed fiddle.

 

Ken.

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coolpinkone
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Very interesting.  Nice to see all those lefties!  My violin partner is a lefty..she plays right.  She said it was never presented for her to play any other way.   She is magnificent by the way. :)

Vibrato Desperato.... Desperately seeking vibrato

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DanielB
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February 22, 2014 - 5:22 am
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I'm a lefty, but I usually play most instruments right-handed.

To be entirely honest, I've always kinda wondered why "right handed" playing on instruments like violin or guitar involves using the left hand in the place where the most manual dexterity and independent finger movement will be needed.  It seems counter-intuitive to me.  If I knew nothing about violin at all and was looking for one set up for a left handed person to play, I would probably guess that the one where the left hand is on the fingerboard and the right on the bow was the "lefty model".  LOL

But most "lefties" are a bit more ambidextrous than most "righties", just because we grow up in the right-handed world.  Some right-handed folks use their left hand for so little that it will take more work for them to get it to behave.

 

I think that ideally, it would probably be a good idea for everyone to try both orientations of instrument early on, and see which feels more natural, and then work from there.  Just as there are lefties that are more comfortable playing right-handed, likely there would be some righties who would find it easier to play left-handed, if they tried it early enough.  Not likely to happen, though, since left-handed instruments seem to be more scarce and pricey.  Even if they weren't some music teachers really have a problem with trying to teach folks who play left-handed.

 

So far as the concerns of seating in an orchestra/symphony.. Well, ok, it is possible that some folks here are heading for an orchestral/symphonic career.  I am not one of them, though.  Just at a guess, I would say the number of people here where it is ever likely to be a major seating concern will end up being rather much in the minority.  Besides, you get that good, they can figure out where to seat you, I'd bet. LOL

"This young wine may have a lot of tannins now, but in 5 or 10 years it is going to be spectacular, despite the fact that right now it tastes like crude oil. You know this is how it is supposed to taste at this stage of development." ~ Itzhak Perlman

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TonicScale
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February 23, 2014 - 2:51 pm
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Fiddlestix said
Yep, she's playing left handed, but she's also playing a left handed fiddle. 

This girl is left handed, but playing a right handed fiddle.

 

Ken.

I did not notice that... Awesome... Both are excellent players...

 

 

A Painter Paints Pictures On Canvas...

Musicians Paint Their Pictures On Silence...

==

 

...

 

 

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TonicScale
Camarillo California
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February 23, 2014 - 2:57 pm
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@DanielB , Cheers!  IMHO, Lefty's Rock... But that's just my Opinion...:)

 

A Painter Paints Pictures On Canvas...

Musicians Paint Their Pictures On Silence...

==

 

...

 

 

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DanielB
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Absolutely, TonicScale!  

Just ask Jimi Hendrix, Paul McCartney, Paul Simon, Tony Iommi or Joan Jett, y'know?  LOL

 

(That's a small sample from the rather long lists of rock musicians that happen to be left-handed, for those that didn't know)

"This young wine may have a lot of tannins now, but in 5 or 10 years it is going to be spectacular, despite the fact that right now it tastes like crude oil. You know this is how it is supposed to taste at this stage of development." ~ Itzhak Perlman

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Fiddlerman
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February 24, 2014 - 8:37 am
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Usually the only left handed people who play with a reversed violin are the ones that are missing fingers on the left hand or have a problem that makes it almost impossible to press on the strings with their fingering hand.
If someone plays left handed in an orchestra it creates a bit of a problem with their stand partners. There are plenty of left-handed violinists in all orchestras but most (I don't think I've ever seen an exception) play "right handed". In actuality I don't think it should even be called right handed because you use both hands to play. :)

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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Crazymotive
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I write right handed. I shoot a long gun left handed but I am comfortable with a handgun in either hand. Although I don't play a gitar it just feels naturally for me to hold it left handed. yet a violin feels more natural to me right handed thus I am a right handed violinist.

 

Oh, and I do love the smell of rosin. :)

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