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Left-handed Violin Playing - Which hands to use ?

by Greg

Since most people are right-handed, why do we perform violin fingering with our left ?

Shouldn't our more articulate hand be used for the intricate fingering, while our "worse" hand does the simpler bowing ?

-In other words, why don't we hold the violin to our right shoulder, and bow with the left hand ?


Marie from

Hello Greg,

Very good question! I remember asking this when I was first learning as well.

The simple answer appears to be: tradition and economics.

Violin has been played this way for many years, with some exceptions. Orchestras of various sorts in particular often prefer players who look similar in order to not distract from the music.

Most of the violins and violin accessories out there, including bridges, chin rests, and other things are made for a standard violin. Left-handed violins exist but are more scarce and therefore more expensive.

I found an interesting link by a professional violinist and teacher, Ryan Thomson. He discusses how difficult it was for him to switch from playing "right-handed" to "left-handed" and some of the bias he found in the musical world when he succeeded in learning to play again professionally, left-handed.

I know this probably isn't the most satisfying answer and it's possible others may know something I don't. (Please comment if you do and share your knowledge!)

Happy playing!

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Jan 11, 2015
Who invented the violin
by: Anonymous

My thought is that it must have been a left handed person who invented the violin to play in the proper way we now call the right handed way - in that way the left handed person could use their dominant left hand to advantage. Us righties have no idea that we would be better off playing what we now call the left handed violin to enjoy the same advantage. Lefties are more creative and musical so what I suggest could be highly possible.

Aug 28, 2013
Not "Left Handed"
by: Greg

Hi, thanks for answering, but you changed my question's title to "Left-handed Violin playing".
It's not about left-handed playing, but instead right-handed playing.
I'm right handed, like most violinists.
It's interesting that "tradition and economics" have us all holding the instrument on what seems like the wrong side. (I've always thought the same about guitars; our worst hand does most of the work!- Strange.)

From Marie at

Hi Greg!

I did not mean to change the meaning of your question at all. My apologies if I offended. I will leave the title as it stands but with your correction, so as to help future visitors.

I have often thought that having people who are right-handed learn to finger with their left hand gives them a chance to learn without clamping down on the strings (causing a lot of extra muscle strain). Tradition and economics is much more likely the reason, though!

Thanks for commenting!

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