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#1038903 - 07/27/04 10:30 AM An advanced left hand and an intermediate right hand
Dapper50 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/27/03
Posts: 50
Loc: Rockville, MD
I've just started reading this forum. Most excellent! I had lessons from about the ages of 7 through 13, then again in college. Most of my formal training was classically oriented. The major frustration I face in my playing is that my hands appear to belong to two different people. My left hand can play virtually anything written, and my right perhaps only up to an intermediate level (yes, I am left handed). Do others of you feel the same way? What do you do about it? Do you select pieces that favor your stronger hand, practice using your weaker hand far more than your stronger one? Other approaches?

Any and all comments/ideas/suggestions will be appreciated!


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#1038904 - 07/27/04 11:41 AM Re: An advanced left hand and an intermediate right hand
jdsher Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/04
Posts: 643
Loc: Plano, Texas
I think you've summed up what most people would describe as the most common problem with learning piano. Different hands doing different things. I believe us right handers probably have a bit of an advantage in controlling the melody line with their dominant hand. My hands act like: right hand late beginner and left hand early beginner who sucks.
"In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity." Albert Einstein

#1038905 - 07/27/04 01:32 PM Re: An advanced left hand and an intermediate right hand
Cindysphinx Offline

Registered: 02/14/03
Posts: 6416
Loc: Washington D.C. Metro
RIGHT HAND = bright underachiever child who consistently underperforms

LEFT HAND = clumsy child you wouldn't want to ask to do too much because someone might get hurt

Hang in there, Southpaw Dave! ;\)
Vote For Cindy!!


#1038906 - 07/27/04 08:13 PM Re: An advanced left hand and an intermediate right hand
Roxane Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/16/02
Posts: 932
Dapper50, although I am right-handed, I have talked about this with my teacher. She says that her left-handed students usually play very well with their right hands as well, since most pieces are right-hand dominant and southpaws have to go through life coping with many right-handed only objects/tools etc. She believes left-handed people are forced to learn to use their right hands far more than right-handed people would use their left hands.

I am right-handed and until 2 years ago, I did not practise my left hand specifically, which resulted in a great imbalance in abilities. I started practising my left hand using Czerny exercises for the left-hand and tried to use my left hand as much as possiblei n every day life (e.g. eating, using the computer mouse). After 2 years, my left hand has improved tremendously and I know I still have some way to go. However, I doubt I would ever achieve the same degree of dexterity with my left as my right.

In your case, concentrating on exercises for your right hand would help quite a bit, but patience (a few years at least) is required. You may also try doing more everyday things with your right hand.

#1038907 - 07/27/04 09:13 PM Re: An advanced left hand and an intermediate right hand
fiddler Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 07/25/04
Posts: 17
Loc: San Francisco Bay Area
I've played violin and viola most of my life, and am right-handed. I remember struggling with learning to make the left hand do all the intricate fingering, and for perhaps the first year or two was able to finger equally well with either hand. Finally realized I was making progress when I tried playing with the hands reversed, and the right hand could no longer do as well as the left.

When I decided to try to play the piano, in my 40's, I wondered if the left hand would do better, as it has had to do string fingering all these years. Of course everything took getting used to, but not as much carried over physically from string playing to piano as I'd hoped (of course being able to read music, work out complicated rhythms, ensemble playing, etc., worked fine).

All this is leading up to the observation that my right hand is stronger and more dexterous on the piano than the left (maybe a third again as good), despite nearly a lifetime of left-hand fingering of stringed instruments.


#1038908 - 07/27/04 09:43 PM Re: An advanced left hand and an intermediate right hand
Roxane Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/16/02
Posts: 932
Sorry to highjack this thread, but I have a question for fiddler.

Do you have a problem switching between violin and viola, given that the spacing between your fingers must surely change to get the same notes on both instruments? Do you ever get confused betweeen the 2? I ask because after a lifetime on the piano, I would like to learn the cello, then maybe also the violin.

#1038909 - 07/28/04 12:31 AM Re: An advanced left hand and an intermediate right hand
fiddler Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 07/25/04
Posts: 17
Loc: San Francisco Bay Area

Should we move this discussion elsewhere? Sorry, everyone.

Luckily I almost never have a problem switching -- I have performed in a trio with piano and clarinet, and switched from viola to violin during the performance (between pieces). My left hand gets somewhat more tired if I switch several times in an evening, but I think the difference in size between my instruments (violin: 14" body, viola: 16-1/2") helps to cue me and so lessens confusion.

Individuals vary in how easy they find it to switch.

You are absolutely right that the spacing changes.

It might be slightly easier to start on cello (as an adult) than on violin or viola because the positions in which you hold your arms may seem less extreme. There are major differences in fingering, how you hold your left hand and arm, and in bow grip between cello and violin. As you are physically working from opposite ends on the two instruments, the highest string is on your left on cello and on your right on violin.

If you do decide to learn cello and/or violin, find a good teacher. I can't imagine effectively learning either one on your own. Good luck with that.

To return to thinking about piano, I still have difficulty processing both staffs at one time. I'm so used to reading a single note on a single staff on a stringed instrument, it's difficult to take in two.

Imagining an organist with at least 3 staffs or a pianist who can play a very difficult part and still keep track of what other members of a piano quintet are supposed to be doing (their parts are usually printed in small staffs above the piano part) fills me with amazement -- more so now that I've tried playing piano.


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