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Learning piano easier, faster and healthier with the mirrored keyboard

"On the left-handed piano, my body is able to live according to its handedness, and as a result, my life and health have improved significantly, step by step."

Asked who I am, I like to answer with the phrase: "I am left-handed piano Heidi."

Presently, I'm committed to spreading the left-handed piano around the world and creating optimal learning conditions for teaching keyboard instruments. I like to create proper conditions in my living and learning areas.

Since mid last year, my piano with the mirrored keyboard has narrower keys that fit my hand size more than the conventional key dimensions. More information about this can be found on the internet platform pask.

The left-handed piano was built for me by the Blüthner company in winter 2013. It has the lower register on the right side and the treble on the left. Thus optimal if you start playing the piano as a left-hander, which was not possible for me at the time. I didn't even know I was left-handed until I was 50, and back then, when I started playing the piano in the mid-70s, there were no left-handed pianos to buy anyway.

I turned 60 this year and have had the great fortune to have been able to experience the mirrored keyboard for about ten years. For me, finding the left-handed piano was like a second border opening in my life - no wonder, its electronic version arrived in my apartment on November 9, 2012.

When I was young, I underwent medical training at the Friedrich Schiller University in Jena (Germany). Research into the causes of diseases and the causes of learning disorders have fascinated me greatly for over 30 years and I have studied them thoroughly. Only if one eliminates real causes of disease, permanent healing is possible.

As an unrecognized left-handed person, I did everything with my right hand as a moving hand and my left hand as a holding hand until I was 50, as is the current practice in our society to a high percentage.

Only by observing my piano students and reading the book by Dr. Barbara Sattler "The Converted Left-Hander or The Knot in the Brain" was I able to perceive my left-handedness and subsequently consider how to deal with it - an extremely painful process.

Re-training everyday movements that routinely work well has not really worked for me. But at the piano, my body is able to live according to its handedness, and as a result, my life and health have improved significantly, step by step.

Every left-handed piano player with whom I have had exchanges about the mirrored keyboard and who have used it seriously over a longer period of time wish they had had this piano available much earlier.

Géza Losó and Christopher Seed have been the pioneers and trailblazers in this field for years. But even in Franz Liszt's time, grand pianos with a mirrored keyboard existed: In Brussels at the Museum of Musical Instruments they have such a "Mangeot piano", where you can play two different keyboards at the same time. The standard keyboard is on the bottom and the mirrored one is on top. I was able to play this phenomenal instrument recently and it was a fascinating experience.

Heidi plays on the lefty keyboard of the Mangeot Piano
Playing the Mangeot Piano at the Brussels museum (Credits: private)

How does the piano with the mirrored keyboard affect the body? My own experience is entirely positive, except for minimal confusion in the early stages, which has completely disappeared: this piano creates greater flexibility in the brain and somehow more stable synapses for fast movements, which I would never have managed without this instrument. My significant hearing and rhythm problems, which existed for over 40 years, have completely disappeared in the last ten years with the use of the left-handed piano.

However, one should not expect success too soon. Some perseverance is required when switching from the conventional piano to the mirrored one as a left-handed person. To some extent, it's like learning a new instrument, but in a much easier and better way. And learning an instrument simply takes time.

Therefore, it is especially important to start with the correct instrument - according to the student's handedness - when taking instrumental lessons.

I would like to remove the fear of all piano teachers and other keyboard artists to try this instrument. It just creates new possibilities. It's also fantastic for trying out new sounds and for composing!

A left-handed piano does not damage anything on the body. Even if a right-handed person plays it for a short time, they won't suffer any loss. Brain flexibility increases nonetheless. And that benefits everyone.

I have improved my piano playing on both the right-handed and the left-handed piano significantly in the last few years. Although I had no help for ten years. Since May, I have been receiving professional lessons on a Blüthner electronic piano with a mirrored keyboard. I am very curious to see how the intensive and very inspiring process with my piano professor, working at the University Mozarteum in Innsbruck, will continue.

There are plans to teach left-handed children from the beginning on the mirrored piano, to record their learning process and to develop a research project.

When I have people of all ages at may place, from toddlers to pensioners, who have never played the piano before, try out my pianos (the right-handed and the left-handed one) asking them which one is more suitable for them, they all choose the piano that corresponds to their handedness! And this completely without prior knowledge - simply by intuition.

It would be fantastic if the vision became reality that at all music schools and secondary music education institutions people could try out both pianos and receive piano lessons according to their handedness and hand size.

It would also be desirable to make trying out possible in music stores and piano houses. Concert halls should also have pianos with mirrored keyboards and different keyboard sizes.

If you calculate the costs of equipment for these facilities today, it becomes quite a lucrative business for piano manufacturers. The piano has a special position because it is needed in the institution where you want to learn the instrument and at home, since you can't tuck a piano under your arm like a violin and take it with you.

Of course, it would be helpful to know seriously how the distribution of handedness is genetically divided in the population. 10% left-handed, I think is clearly too low. But even if you extrapolate these minimal numbers, the real need is high:

In the Association of German Music Schools (VdM), slightly more than 163,000 students were registered for piano in 2019, according to the German Music Information Center and the VdM. Overall, there are even more piano students in Germany, because there is also private tuition and not all institutions are members of the VdM. But already with this number, we have for 10% left-handers more than 16.300 people affected, who could learn easier, faster and healthier on the mirrored instrument.

Even though there are left-handed people who are very good at playing on a right-handed instrument, there are also children who simply cannot learn to play the piano at all because the instrument does not suit their handedness. This is very sad if they seriously desire to play the piano. It is a highly complex, fascinating instrument.

There are indeed interested people who investigate the phenomenon of handedness again and again, but in my opinion it is still insufficiently researched overall. If we knew how handedness is inherited, as we know, for example, about blood groups, certain diseases or eye color, then we would also be able to specify the frequency in the distribution of right-handers, left-handers and the existence or non-existence of ambidextrous people. Then the instrument manufacturers could orient themselves to these figures.

It would make a lot of sense and save a lot of suffering if exactly the same learning conditions were created for left-handers as have existed for right-handers for a long time.

Therefore: instrumental instruction appropriate to handedness is health prophylaxis, regardless of the starting age. Worldwide, this form of teaching should find its application in practice as soon as possible.

News about successful learning on the mirrored keyboard will be published here in the "Linksgespielt" blog in a timely manner. There will be up-to-date information about the still quite complicated and often expensive procurement of left-handed instruments.

Have the courage, try it out, the piano with the mirror keys!

Then let's proclaim:

"In no time we're disseminating

worldwide healthy music making."


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