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How Should I Play My Instrument if I am Left-handed?

Dextral–Why Play Like Everyone Else?

Play using the traditional method. The main reason to play your instrument conventionally is to fit in with the other members of your group. Bowing a stringed instrument (or supporting a flute or guitar) in the opposite direction of everyone else could look awkward and might provide some undesirable instrument collisions, depending on how much space there is to perform and practice. Obviously, with brass and most winds and percussion, playing the instrument in reverse wouldn’t matter so much, but again, brass and wind instruments have to be custom-made for musicians who desire to play left-handed; no one makes standard models for the reverse hands, so you may as well just play conventionally.

A second important reason to learn to play your instruments traditionally is that there are apparently not a lot of teachers willing to teach left-handed. Granted, having online lessons available makes this much less of a concern, if you don’t mind remote lessons. And if you can convince the teacher that teaching you left-handed would be as easy as teaching their mirror reflection, you’d be well on your way.

The third good reason to play conventionally: For string players, guitarists, flautists, and drummers, there are standard models for left-handed players, but most other sinistral instruments must be custom-made, so an instrument made in reverse would either be expensive or very difficult to find. Save money and time, and play like everyone else.

Sinistral–Why Play in Reverse?

Obviously, you can still choose to play left-handed, and there are many good reasons.

One, you might not be able to bow with your right hand at all to save your life; in the words of Akiva Wax, an electric violinist, “...I can’t even hold a spoon with my right hand, or there won’t be any food on it by the time it gets to my mouth.”1 If you’re that left-handed, then by all means, play a left-handed instrument.

Two, you might never play in a group. Playing in comfort could actually be a good idea if that’s the case. Left-handed playing could be part of your unique trademark.

Three, several famous musicians are left-handed, like Jimi Hendrix and Paul McCartney, so don’t let your left-handedness stop you from achieving your goals and getting your music out into the world.

Four, a few instruments already accommodate left-handedness. Percussion and guitar seem to be quite common for both left- and right-dominant hands, and piano and French horn use both hands. In fact, French horn valves are played with the left hand, unlike most brass instruments. If you’re looking for a more accommodating instrument, then look into those.

Unless you really want to play the instrument in reverse, just play conventionally.

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Note 1: Electric Violin Shop, “Left Handed Violins??” YouTube video, March 10, 2021,

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