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 Advantage of left handed clarinet?
Author: Micke Isotalo 2017
Date:   2018-04-03 22:32

What's the advantage of a left handed clarinet for left handed people? That is, a clarinet where you use your left hand on the lower joint and your right hand on the upper joint and the keys therefore are made as a mirror image of a regular clarinet (such ones can be ordered from Dietz, and probably also from some other makers).

I myself am left handed, but I've never seen that as a disadvantage for clarinet playing. I've seen someone claiming that left handedness could even be a benefit, but I don't know for what reason (more accuracy when handling the quite delicate movements of the keys of the throat tones, or what?).

One issue however I have with my right hand, though I don't know if that has anything to do with that hand being "inferior" to my left hand. It's in passages as the five last notes in bar 108 in the Mozart Concerto, or the same notes in the beginning of the next bar (clarion e-d#-f-e-g). No matter how much I practice this passage, it doesn't seem to come really natural and fluent to me (though someone listening may not hear any trouble). Playing the d# with my left hand little finger instead of my right hand little finger helps a bit, but not entirely (yes, I have an "extra" left hand d#4 key on my clarinets).

Perhaps this passage would work better for me on a left handed clarinet (and after a lot of practicing and re-wiring of my brain  :) ), but at the same time I'm quite sure I would get new trouble with some passages on the upper joint now to be executed with my right hand.

Any thoughts? I'm mainly curious about these questions.



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 Re: Advantage of left handed clarinet?
Author: Ken Lagace 
Date:   2018-04-03 22:47

Sounds like a good experiment you could do for us so we could learn from your experience without going through the huge learning curve. I am too old to start over.

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 Re: Advantage of left handed clarinet?
Author: Geronimo 
Date:   2018-04-04 08:26

I wouldn't think there would be much of anything to gain from a "left handed" clarinet. I think that the advantage for left handed people is that, supposedly, your left hand would be more skilled/precise than your right. Operating the notes in the throat resigter typically require more work or motion than the right hand keys. So that would be in your favor.

One fun fact to consider is that all woodwinds (to my knowledge) operate on the left is top, right is bottom. So it would be a little strange if the clarinet was the only one in inversion.

In my own playing I haven't noticed any significant advantages or struggles of playing the clarinet with a left hand dominance. It's not nearly as uncomfortable as using right handed sissors...

-GM

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 Re: Advantage of left handed clarinet?
Author: ned 
Date:   2018-04-04 09:22

Geronimo wrote: ''...I wouldn't think there would be much of anything to gain from a "left handed" clarinet...''

Firstly you have to source a LH clarinet. The next step would be to source a reliable technician to service the instrument. I can imagine most repairers would be baffled when presented with such an item. I sometimes get surprised looks when I present my Albert system instruments to a new repairer - not that I have had THAT many actually.

So, if you have one LH instrument, it is wise to have a spare in reserve. That's more money on top of what you have already laid out for the first instrument.

I'm actually left handed myself and have never had the desire to use a LH instrument...and, then of course, there is the expensive and largely fruitless search for LH music...(sorry, I couldn't stop myself).



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 Re: Advantage of left handed clarinet?
Author: clarnibass 
Date:   2018-04-04 09:39

>> The next step would be to source a reliable technician to service the instrument. I can imagine most repairers would be baffled when presented with such an item. <<

It would be exactly the same, except maybe a few things taking a second longer because it is not the regular direction you are used to holding it, etc. It's no harder than drinking from a left handed cup.

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 Re: Advantage of left handed clarinet?
Author: GBK 
Date:   2018-04-04 09:40
Attachment:  BG.jpg (30k)

Steve Allen had one.

...GBK

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 Re: Advantage of left handed clarinet?
Author: Johan H Nilsson 
Date:   2018-04-04 15:23

Could be that the instrument is resting on the left thumb and arm, which is stronger on left handers.



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 Re: Advantage of left handed clarinet?
Author: Tony F 
Date:   2018-04-04 16:40

I think Clarinets Direct had one a few years back.

Tony F.

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 Re: Advantage of left handed clarinet?
Author: Jaysne 
Date:   2018-04-04 19:48

I've never heard of a left-handed clarinet. What's more, I don't see the need for one.

Think about people who play baseball who are left handed. They throw with their left hand and catch with their right. That is, their right hand is just as important as their left. It just does different things.

Same thing with clarinet or any instrument that uses two hands. Both hands are equally as important; they only are in different positions on the horn.

Nobody goes into instrumental playing thinking about which hand is dominant, because it doesn't matter.

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 Re: Advantage of left handed clarinet?
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2018-04-04 19:52

My standard answer to students who have asked about this has been that you need strength and dexterity in both hands, so it shouldn't matter. Reversing a string instrument is even more problematic, and lots of my 3rd grade left handed string beginners (or their parents) wanted to just reverse the bow and the instrument because they think left-handers need to do everything in reverse.

But some part of my brain always nags at me, if the original inventors of these instruments had been left handed, would the instruments have evolved the same way? Is there something about the configuration of right and left hands on wind and string instruments that is the result of invention by a right-handed world? We'll never know.

Karl

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 Re: Advantage of left handed clarinet?
Author: Dibbs 
Date:   2018-04-04 20:21

kdk wrote:

>
> But some part of my brain always nags at me, if the original
> inventors of these instruments had been left handed, would the
> instruments have evolved the same way? Is there something about
> the configuration of right and left hands on wind and string
> instruments that is the result of invention by a right-handed
> world? We'll never know.
>
> Karl

A lot of early woodwinds had duplicate holes for the lower hand pinky. The idea was to block up the unused one with wax. Similarly, baroque oboes had double touchpieces for the low C and a pair of Eb keys. The change to RH lower only really happened when more keys were added and it became impractical to make them handedness neutral.

As for strings, a lefty violinist would make a violin section look terribly untidy. They'd probably have to sit on the right to avoid taking someone's eye out.

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 Re: Advantage of left handed clarinet?
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2018-04-04 20:43

Jaysne wrote:

> Nobody goes into instrumental playing thinking about which hand
> is dominant, because it doesn't matter.

Well, yes, you might be surprised that many young (elementary school) beginners do - or they are influenced to bring up the issue by their parents who see the world as hostile to left-handed people and want to protect their children from it. :)

Karl

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 Re: Advantage of left handed clarinet?
Author: Tony F 
Date:   2018-04-04 21:00

http://test.woodwind.org/clarinet/BBoard/read.html?f=1&i=144415&t=144415

Some previous discussion on the subject.

Tony F.

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 Re: Advantage of left handed clarinet?
Author: Mrdi 
Date:   2018-04-04 22:57

Since both hands on the clarinet need to be very dexterous it may not be as significant as a guitar, where the primary dexterity is relegated to the dominant hand.



Post Edited (2018-04-04 22:57)

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 Re: Advantage of left handed clarinet?
Author: ned 
Date:   2018-04-05 05:43

clarnibass wrote ''...It would be exactly the same, except maybe a few things taking a second longer because it is not the regular direction you are used to holding it...''

I used the Albert situation as an example of when one should be careful and be aware that the majority of work done by repairers is for the Boehm system. I'd prefer that folks who touch my instruments have a working knowledge of the Albert system.

Is the LH clarinet an exact mirror image of the RH model? Perhaps not...

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 Re: Advantage of left handed clarinet?
Author: ned 
Date:   2018-04-05 05:58

kdk wrote: ''...Reversing a string instrument is even more problematic, and lots of my 3rd grade left handed string beginners (or their parents) wanted to just reverse the bow and the instrument because they think left-handers need to do everything in reverse. ..''

I realise, as do most left handers, that we live in a right handed world. That said, RHs should realise that we LHs - in many instances - just cannot operate as proficiently when forced to adopt a RH approach to many of life's functions.

I play a little of the guitar, I pick with the LH and find chords with the RH. I do not think I could do it the ''conventional'' way by any stretch of the imagination.

In the old days, school kids were frequently whacked over the knuckles if they persisted in writing with the LH. Those days are gone fortunately, but RHs need to keep in mind that LHs exist and need to be catered for. Our concerns do matter and cannot be brushed away simply by saying something like ''...oh, look, why don't you just do it the normal way, eh?...''

I hope I have not laboured the point too much.



Post Edited (2018-04-07 11:01)

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 Re: Advantage of left handed clarinet?
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2018-04-05 07:03

ned wrote:

> I realise, as do most left handers, that we live in a right
> handed world. That said, RHs should realise that we LHs - in
> many instances - just cannot operate as proficiently being when
> forced to adopt a RH approach to many of life's functions.
>

That was exactly my point. The trouble is, it's hard to tell how much of the need to reverse things is built on expectation and how much on neurology.

> I play a little of the guitar, I pick with the LH and find
> chords with the RH. I do not think I could do it the
> ''conventional'' way by any stretch of the imagination.
>

This doesn't surprise me at all. But do you reverse the strings, or does the E string end up on the bottom when you reverse the guitar? One player bowing with the left hand in a string section can cause havoc. Also, unless you play with the strings in the opposite order (high string on the bottom, low string at the top) the whole instrument, at least an acoustic instrument with a sound post and internal bass bar needs to be built differently.

I'm not sure if I could play a clarinet with my hands reversed, but I don't know if that's because I'm right-handed or because I've been doing it left-over-right for so long that I've been too conditioned to change.

> I hope I have not laboured the point too much.
>

Not at all, at least IMO. I think it's a fascinating thought area, though in practice instrument construction is probably one area where the right-handers get to set the rules. :)

Karl

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 Re: Advantage of left handed clarinet?
Author: Mrdi 
Date:   2018-04-05 08:56

Dexterity is a kinesthetic skill.
It is learned.
Have you seen a left handed piano?

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 Re: Advantage of left handed clarinet?
Author: clarnibass 
Date:   2018-04-05 09:09

>> Is the LH clarinet an exact mirror image of the RH model? Perhaps not... <<

Point is that the clarinet being left handed is irrelevant to someone being able to repair it or not, as was suggested. If it's an Albert, and that's why someone would be concerned about this, then it doesn't matter if it's right handed or left handed. To be honest I'd be a little concerned about bringing any instrument to someone who could have a problem with anything that isn't standard. That suggests they use the "recipe" approach to repair.

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 Re: Advantage of left handed clarinet?
Author: Micke Isotalo 2017
Date:   2018-04-05 10:40

I've always thought that left handedness would be an advantage when playing the violin or guitar since the left hand is doing a lot more complicated things than the right hand.

I'm not playing any string instrument myself but the few times I've tried one as a left handed person it felt most natural to me to do it the usual way.

Now some are suggesting otherwise here in this thread, so how could that be explained? Am I wrong in my assumption above and is the moving up and down of the bow or picking the strings actually motorically more demanding than what the left hand is doing?

Or is Karl on the right path when suggesting that some LH people just are assuming that "everything" must be done in reverse by a LH person?

In my case I may add that I'm somewhat schizo in my left handedness - I write with my left hand but other things as throwing a ball I do with my right hand. Neither is learned, but just what comes natural to me.



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 Re: Advantage of left handed clarinet?
Author: Dibbs 
Date:   2018-04-05 13:32

> Dexterity is a kinesthetic skill.
> It is learned.
> Have you seen a left handed piano?

Here's one.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cowjrSTHKTw



Post Edited (2018-04-05 13:33)

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 Re: Advantage of left handed clarinet?
Author: ned 
Date:   2018-04-05 13:46

kdk wrote: ''...But do you reverse the strings, or does the E string end up on the bottom when you reverse the guitar?...''

As a matter of fact I do reverse the whole box and dice, with the bass string on the bottom. This is the fallout from having been banned by my older brother (50+ years ago) from mucking about with his new acoustic guitar. What a challenge for a fourteen year old!

I merely turned the whole thing around the other way and learnt the chord positions, as shown on the chord sheet he got with the guitar, and strummed away. Nobody told me it was wrong, or incorrect, or bad technique or, whatever, and I went on to be able to strum away reasonably proficiently as a rhythm guitarist. He never ever knew that I had circumvented his ban and was surprised when I told him only a few years ago. So, from that point I locked myself in as an upside down lefty, as early learned habits are hard to break.

More recently I started playing steel guitar which has a more of a solo or single string emphasis and that's been a challenge as well. When you think of it though - with the the bass string on the bottom, it approximates (in my mind) the location of the bass keys on the piano - to the left and away from me - I hope that makes sense. In other words, little fingers LH play bass on the piano and also on my version of the guitar.

Funnily enough, as I have been writing this stuff, it occurred to me that the so-called right hand clarinet fits me perfectly. I reckon it's called RH simply because the bloke (many people really, of course) who set up the keywork probably set it up to suit their particular handedness.

I have a dominant LH and in addition, I regard the top joint of the clarinet, the high notes if you like, as the ''starting point'' and, so, I could just as easily call it a left-handed clarinet. This is the result you can get from being a self trained player.



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 Re: Advantage of left handed clarinet?
Author: Barry Vincent 
Date:   2018-04-06 14:03

I would think that a left handed Clarinet would be similar to a left handed screwdriver or am I missing some subtle detail here.

Skyfacer

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 Re: Advantage of left handed clarinet?
Author: Neil 
Date:   2018-04-07 04:17

I think it would be more like a right handed French horn.

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 Re: Advantage of left handed clarinet?
Author: ned 
Date:   2018-04-07 04:30

Barry Vincent wrote: ''...am I missing some subtle detail here...''

You might be.

Screwdrivers don't holes and buttons and bits of metal arranged in a particular way, so you can hold one of those things anyway you want.

Then again, you may have been attempting to pull our collective legs?



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 Re: Advantage of left handed clarinet?
Author: zhangray4 
Date:   2018-04-07 04:37

I mean if the Berlin Phil horns just recently revealed their right-handed horns, it would make sense that we clarinetists do the same...
https://youtu.be/fJ61bxBYIOA

-- Ray Zhang

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 Re: Advantage of left handed clarinet?
Author: Barry Vincent 
Date:   2018-04-07 09:52

"Then again, you may have been attempting to pull our collective legs?
Well maybe.
Anyway, I always thought that the Clarinet already was a kind of 'left handed' instrument.

Skyfacer

Post Edited (2018-04-07 09:56)

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 Re: Advantage of left handed clarinet?
Author: ned 
Date:   2018-04-07 10:58

zhangrav4 wrote: ''...I mean if the Berlin Phil horns just recently revealed their right-handed horns,...''

This is not fake news I hope!

Well...you can call me a jolly dunce and stand me in the corner...but I have NO idea which way the french horn is normally held. I assume it's NOT right handed.



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 Re: Advantage of left handed clarinet?
Author: Late_returner 
Date:   2018-04-07 14:10

I once asked a world famous horn soloist why the horn was set up for left hand on the keys. He told me that the right hand inside the bell did a lot more work in constantly shaping to produce good tone.



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 Re: Advantage of left handed clarinet?
Author: zhangray4 
Date:   2018-04-07 19:52

It was because back in the Natural horn days, there were no valves to mess around with on the left hand. The left hand only grasped the horn. The right hand, however, did most of the work in altering the pitches.

-- Ray Zhang

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 Re: Advantage of left handed clarinet?
Author: zhangray4 
Date:   2018-04-07 19:55

Ned, I regret to inform you but the right handed horns are indeed "fake news." In the description of the YouTube video, Sarah Willis emphasizes the date she uploaded this video :)

-- Ray Zhang

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 Re: Advantage of left handed clarinet?
Author: Klose 2017
Date:   2018-04-07 23:38

I also think clarinet is indeed a left-handed instrument as we use left hand thumb but usually not right hand thumb.

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 Re: Advantage of left handed clarinet?
Author: ned 
Date:   2018-04-09 05:05

Klose wrote: ''...we use left hand thumb but usually not right hand thumb...''

My RH thumb come in quite handy holding the thing up...

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 Re: Advantage of left handed clarinet?
Author: ned 
Date:   2018-04-09 05:06

Klose wrote: ''...we use left hand thumb but usually not right hand thumb...''

My RH thumb come in quite handy holding the thing up...:)[:)]

These last bits are supposed to be smiles...can't get it to work though...oh well.



Post Edited (2018-04-09 05:08)

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