Any left-handed string players out there?

My son is going to start playing with his school orchestra and we just picked up his (rental) cello yesterday. Like me, he’s a lefty, and also like me, his natural inclination is to play the thing backwards. He is also interested in guitar and I asked about this in an earlier thread and the general consensus was that he would be just fine learning on a “right-handed” guitar.

Does anybody have some experience they can share about learning to play something like a violin or cello as a left hander? Do you think is was especially hard, or did it go pretty well once you got used to holding it the right way?

I hope he has a good experience with it, because he loves music and has an excellent ear. Plus, it would just be cool to have a cello player in the house.

Not a leftie, but a violinist and violin teacher:

Forget it. Forget any concerns. Bowed string instruments only operate one way around. There’s an equal amount of versatility and dexterity demanded of each hand. At times, far more of the left than right. Once you’re past that very basic stage of which hand for which object (which isn’t only experienced by lefties!), there’s no problem.

My being right-handed didn’t help me hold my bow any better.

For what it’s worth, in high school, we had a lefty who held his violin like us righties. He was the concertmaster for 3 out of 4 years.

I believe I posted in the thread about guitar playing, but I will post again and say that I agree with the two posts above. It’s a two handed instrument there is no need to get a “left handed” one. I didn’t even know they made them.
You never hear about people wanting left handed pianos or saxaphones, why do they all want left handed guitars and basses?

The handful of players I’ve ever seen, including TV, working the other way around have all been outside of the sphere of classical technique, and have been using a regular instrument, but playing back-to-front. With a classical technique this would pose huge problems, as the normal orientation of the violin or cello is such that the greatest arm weight can be delivered to the lowest-pitched string.

A true ‘left-handed’ violin is something I have seen precisely once in my life, again not in the flesh. The instrument isn’t anything like as symmetrical as it would appear - the whole structure, from interior parts to the thickness of the wood of the belly, differs from one side to the other.

Because with pianos or saxophones, both hands are doing basically the same type of movement. But with string players, your two hands are doing very different things, both requiring a great deal of dexterity, and perfect coordination between the two. String instruments are a bitch to learn, whether you’re a leftie or rightie.

(Righty, but have played both cello and guitar).
For most people, there is a difference between playing left-handed and right-handed: McCartney, Hendrix and others didn’t play left-handed just to be different or weird. I remember an interview where McCartney was saying he could play guitar passably right-handed, but just couldn’t get the ‘funky’ strumming rhythm that he could left-handed. For a lefty learning guitar, I’d suggest trying righty for a while, and then lefty, in order to see which is better for that person. You don’t need two guitars for this: An regular acoustic guitar re-strung to play lefty might not sound quite as good, but will be good enough, and electrics will sound the same either way (the only difference righty and lefty is being able to finger the higher frets; not necessary when first learning).

Unfortunately, playing lefty is not really much of an option for learning classical strings. If you’re playing in an orchestra, you’re going to play the same side everybody else does. Maybe, somewhere, in some super-alternative elementary school, there’s a conductor who’d be OK with one of her players doing everything backwards and is willing to rearrange seating to give the student the extra space they’ll need, but don’t count on it at any higher level. However, I don’t think the left-right difference is going to be as pronounced with classical music, where the rhythms are simpler.

If the student’s only goal is to be a bluegrass fiddler, I suppose it’s more possible. Left-handed violins are hard to find, and playing a normal violin left-handed will not sound as good (but probably close enough for bluegrass). Not every classical teacher will be willing to teach left-handed, but some might, and if you’re just getting a fiddle teacher, more likely.

As GorillaMan said, the kid should learn the 'cello the regular way.
Besides, a “left-handed” violin is a novelty item. Good luck finding a left-handed 'cello

I’m another lefty who plays guitar right-handed. When I first started it was awkward and flipping the guitar around felt more natural, but I got over that pretty quickly. I also played cello in grade school, and I had no problems at all with it. If I remember correctly (it was about 15 years ago), the strings teacher actually felt that lefties had an advantage learning stringed instruments early on. Above all else, it’s fun to play other people’s instruments, and playing lefty will seriously limit that option.

I looked into this quite a bit several years ago for a friend of mine (for guitar only). Basically what I did was to comb all the forums and read some articles. Basically the answer I came up with is that it depends on how left handed the person is (based on the idea that “handedness” was more a continuum than a binary choice and that people have a varied amount of dexterity with their “other” hand).

If you feel you can, go for the right handed guitar. Life will be much simpler and a little cheaper. If you feel strongly that you can’t, then get a lefty. Playing any guitar is better than not playing at all.

Lapsed cellist checking in and yes, you’d need to learn it the right way round. In theory you could re-string it with the C to the left side and swap hands but you’d only be handicapping yourself something fierce with regard to future orchestra playing.

Honest, “handedness” isn’t an issue with strings any more than a leftie would need a piano with the keys reversed.

Leftie former violinist here. As others have said, with bowing instruments both hands do things requiring a lot of coordination and dexterity. However, I think that at the very beginning being left-handed is an advantage. My beginning violin instruction emphasized fingering/intonation (left hand) more than precision bowing technique (right hand).

I’m a lefty.
I play the bass the “right” way, but when playing the drums I do it the “left” way.

For double-bass it is no problem (I tried it) if you’re playing jazz or something where you “pluck” the strings to play leftie (although I much prefer “rightie”), but when using a bow (in an orchestra) you can get tangled, but at least you can be reasonably far away from the others to avoid it. With cellos, violas and violins it’s eye-poking time, especially if you’re not playing in a big enough place.

Excuse me? :wink:

Thanks, everyone. We weren’t considering the possibility of arranging for a left-handed cello. I just wondered if it would be more of a challenge for him, but it sounds like it won’t, particularly. He’s very proud of his new cello.

I played flute and piano, myself, where things are pretty equal for both hands.

Interesting. I took to strings like a duck to water, but was never able to get past basics with piano because I could never get my hands to perform such similar but different motions. (and carrying two melodies in my head at once while I played, that killed me)

I never thought about it like that before.