The sweet and melancholic sound of the violin has led many people to try their hand at playing this wonderful instrument. For some, the challenge is learning how to hold and play the violin correctly. For others, the bigger challenge may be that they are left-handed and are unsure whether or not they can even play the violin at all.
The good news is that, yes, you can play the violin left-handed! In fact, there are many famous and successful left-handed violinists out there, including Rudolf Kolisch, Paavo Berglund, and Ashle MacIsaac. You can do it in two ways – study playing the violin the traditional way (right-handed position), or begin with a left-handed violin.
At the end of the day, it all depends on personal preference and what feels more comfortable for you.
Can You Play the Violin Left Handed? Two Options for Lefties
Left-handed violin players aren’t as rare as you may think. Did you know that some of the most successful and famous violinists of all time are lefties, taking over the world one beautiful melody at a time.
While it’s true that most violins are designed for right-handed people, this doesn’t mean that lefties can’t give it a go. Here are some methods that left-handed people can use to play the violin:
Learn Playing with the Right Hand
One of the most common methods used by left-handed people who want to learn how to play the violin is to simply switch the instrument around and hold it in their left hand while using their right hand to bow.
Initially, it can be a bit challenging. However, with practice, you’ll be able to get the hang of it in no time.
They say that some people who start younger have an easier time adjusting to this method, as their brains are more flexible. However, this doesn’t mean that adults can’t do it – it will just take a bit more time and patience to get used to the new way of playing.
Start with a Left-Handed Violin
If you don’t like the idea of playing the violin the “traditional” way, then you can simply purchase or rent a left-handed violin. While they may be a bit harder to find, they do exist and will make playing the violin much easier for you.
Take into account, however, that if you’ve resorted to online courses or books to teach you how to play the violin, most of them will be written with right-handed people in mind. So, you’ll have to make some adjustments along the way.
Is Violin Harder for Left Handed?
Imagine trying to learn how to write with your non-dominant hand. Now imagine trying to play one of the most intricate and delicate instruments known to man with that same hand. For left-handed violinists, this is a reality. From having to awkwardly twist their bodies around the instrument to contorting their fingers into positions, they were never meant to be in, playing the violin can be an uphill battle for lefties.
While it comes with its own set of challenges, playing the violin left-handed can be just as rewarding as playing it right-handed. Learning the violin, regardless of your hand dominance, takes time, dedication, and practice.
Fingering the Strings
One of the most difficult things for left-handed violinists is simply fingering the strings. The fingerboard is designed for right-handed people, which means that all of the positions are reversed for lefties. This can make it very difficult to position your fingers in the correct spot and even more difficult to make smooth transitions between notes.
Bow Holds and Arm Placement
Another struggle that left-handed violinists face is with bow holds and arm placement. Because the bow is also designed for righties, it can be uncomfortable and awkward for lefties to hold. Many lefties end up having to hold the bow in an unnatural position just so they can reach all of the strings comfortably. Additionally, because the scroll of the violin is on the opposite side for them, their arm placement is also reversed. This is another challenge that can take some time to get used to.
Playing the violin with a non-dominant hand can be quite challenging, and it will take some time to get used to it. It’s challenging, but it’s always possible.
Left-Handed Violin Setup Can Make Playing Easier
If you’re really struggling to get the hang of playing with your non-dominant hand, you can always opt for a left-handed violin setup. This simply means that the strings, bridge, and scroll are all set up for a left-handed person.
Can You Buy Left-Handed Violins?
If you’re a left-handed person who wants to learn how to play the violin, don’t worry – you’re not out of luck. If you’ve decided to play with a left-handed setup, you may be wondering if you can simply purchase a left-handed violin. The answer is yes – you can buy left-handed violins, but they may be a bit harder to find than their right-handed counterparts.
If you are in the market for a left-handed violin for beginners, you might want to take a look at this one on Amazon.
- Size 4/4 (full size) LEFT-HANDED violin with solid spruce wood top, maple back, neck and sides with inlaid purfling in antique varnish
- Ebony fingerboard, pegs chinrest, and tailpiece with 4 detachable nickel plated fine tuners
- Strung with D'Addario Prelude Strings (Note: Does not include extra set of strings)
- Includes: Cecilio chromatic tuner, lesson book, lightweight hard case, 2 x Brazilwood bows with unbleached genuine Mongolian horsehair, quality rosin cake, adjustable shoulder rest, and an extra bridge
- 1 Year Warranty Against Manufacturer's Defects
These violins mirror the design of a regular violin, but they’re simply rotated 180 degrees. This means that its strings would be reversed, and the bow would be held in the opposite hand. The bridge, on the other hand, would also be flipped.
Things to Consider When Playing Left-Handed
Similar to anything else in life, there are a few things that you should consider should you decide to play the violin with a left-hand setup:
1. Choose a Comfortable Violin for You
Despite what you may think, not all violins are created equal. Different violins can have different shapes and sizes, which can impact your comfort while playing. If you’re a lefty, and if you’ve decided to go with a left-hand setup, be sure to find a comfortable violin that won’t strain your body while you play.
On the other hand, if you’ve decided to go with the traditional way of playing, you may want to try out a few different violins before you find one that’s comfortable for you.
2. Get a Good Teacher
Having a good teacher can make all the difference when learning how to play the violin – left-handed or not. A good teacher will be able to help you learn proper techniques, and they’ll be able to offer guidance should you run into any challenges.
3. Get Used to the New Positions
As we mentioned earlier, playing with a left-hand setup means that everything will be reversed for you. This can feel very awkward and uncomfortable at first, but it’s important to stick with it and get used to the new positions. With time, it’ll start to feel more natural.
4. Next to Comfort, Take Into Account How It Sounds
Of course, you’ll want to be comfortable while you play the violin, but it’s also important to take into account how it sounds. This will likely come down to personal preference, but it’s something to keep in mind nonetheless.
There’s no one-size-fits-all violin for everyone. Just because you’re left-handed doesn’t mean that you can’t play the violin – you’ll just have to find a way that’s comfortable for you. The same goes for right-handed individuals. Both can play the violin, nevertheless. It all boils down to choosing which instrument feels comfortable and sounds good at the same time. It may take some trial and error to find the perfect fit, but going through the process is half the fun.
Don’t be afraid to experiment, and most importantly, have fun!