Mirrored Keyboard on the Electric Piano - My Journey to Left-Handed Identity
by Daniela Berlin
The scales fell from my eyes when I became aware of my left-handedness in my advanced adulthood - at over 30. Back then, my piano professor at an advanced training course drew my attention to my left-handedness, which surprised me, since I thought for sure that I was right-handed.
Later it became more and more clear to me that he had probably hit the mark. Now many of my problems, some of which I had already had at school, were explained and I felt deep down that I was left-handed. Immediately I began to write with my left hand, which was difficult, but still felt good. Mirror writing succeeded immediately. A handedness test at the Munich "Beratungsstelle für Linkhänder" confirmed that I am a left-handed person strongly programmed to the right - retrained probably in early childhood or by imitating the right-handed environment.
My shock about the consequences of re-education were as great as the will to find and live my identity as a left-handed person.
And so I have been writing exclusively with my left hand for years now. I often read and heard from experts that retraining to the dominant hand does not always lead to success and is not easy, and that the original state of handedness cannot be restored so easily. Nevertheless, I was sure that I was not harming myself and continued on my way undeterred.
This path also led me to search for solutions for a more relaxed and harmonious body feeling and connection to the instrument, as I felt it was not coherent. The idea of playing on a mirrored instrument fascinated me from the beginning since I first heard about it.
Many of my colleagues found left-handed playing absurd and felt it was more important to improve my already learned playing as a pianist than to "flip my hands" and possibly risk severe confusion. They also said that the piano was an instrument where both hands would train synchronous movements, and therefore of equal value to both sides.
Nevertheless, I felt the urge inside me to play on a left-handed instrument and find out what would change with it. Mentally, I was already practicing mirror-inverted. When I learned about the electric piano "Blüthner pro 88" with a left-handed keyboard in 2016, I dared to experiment. I bought the instrument.
After a short time of practice, I was able to play some pieces mirrored. Both hands improved and I got more clarity about the composition and structure of the pieces. Switching between the two ways of playing is not a contradiction or conflict, nor is it a confusion.
If my dream of a real left-handed piano should come true one day, I will decide to play entirely left-handed.
Prelude in c by J. S. Bach - above: on the electric piano with mirrored keyboard, below: on the conventional (right-handed) piano
At a seminar for piano teachers, in the course of which I introduced the left-handed piano at the request of the participants, I noticed that the participants - all pianists - were interested, but reacted rather wait-and-see and not very eager to experiment - including the left-handers among them.
If at some point there are verified research results about the advantage of left-handed playing for the left-handed general public, I will also teach my students on the mirrored instrument.
Meanwhile I am in active exchange with my like-minded colleagues and try to support y students by relaxation exercises.
"Le petit noir" von C. Debussy – top: left-handed played on mirrored keyboard, middle: left-handed played on conventional keyboard, bottom: right-handed played on conventional keyboard