Left-handed Piano Newsletter #1: Report on the 2022 conference
I’m Left-handed Piano Heidi.
And if you look closely, you can see that my piano’s keys are narrower than usual. When the piano maker comes next time, the new key blocks will fit as well.
On the last weekend in May, the first meeting of piano lovers experimenting with the mirrored keyboard for lefthanders took place at my house in the year 2022.
And about that I would like to report here:
[This is the first left-handed piano newsletter. If you don't want to miss anything in the future, just sign up by email]. I will inform you at the end of the newsletter about where left-handed keyboard instruments can be tried or how they can be currently procured, as well as about publications on this subject.
Let's move on to our meeting:
On Friday evening, the first getting to know each other took place with a lively exchange of ideas. The considerable negative effects of not taking into account handedness were discussed quite personally, as the decision to use the mirrored keyboard is often accompanied by a serious history of suffering. The new possibilities offered by the left-handed piano, the positive experiences with it, and the initial difficulties associated with the change were discussed.
On Saturday morning the participants were mainly dealing with how this great new possibility of using the left-handed piano can be spread internationally and what new possibilities does it offer, for example in composing.
It was considered to create a multilingual website. For this purpose, contributions of experience and YouTube recordings are desired. The possibility of distance learning was discussed. Dissemination of ideas via Instagram would also be possible.
The idea is to create an international network similar to paskpiano-org. (which stands for worldwide dissemination of standardized key sizes according to hand size) should be founded or we should join an already existing large network.
Names for the organization or association formation were considered but not finalized. If a few more active left-handed piano players with experience on the mirrored keyboard turn up, a Zoom meeting will be held soon, where the first ideas will be further developed and go into the implementation phase.
In between the discussions there was always the possibility to play music for four hands, play certain pieces and exchange ideas about it. For this purpose, the Haessler piano 124 built by Blüthner, shown above, the electric piano PRO 88 by Blüthner and a Bechstein piano 118 (all on the same pitch) were available.
The most diverse musical styles in different degrees of difficulty were wandered through with quite diverse pieces of music. There were pieces by the Beatles, Bach, Rachmaninoff, Schubert, Schumann, four-hand beginning songs from piano schools and own improvisations in very individual ways of playing.
In addition, there was an exchange about different types of musical notation and our experiences with them. The participants discussed the use of:
- the notation for left-handers created by Geza Loso
- simple mirror notes
- the common notation used today.
Both advantages and disadvantages were extensively debated, including the use for other instruments, scores and choral settings.
Some people are having considerable difficulties with the European reading direction from left to right and possibly develop learning disorders as a result. Since all participants had not been able to play left-handed from their beginnings, the use of today's common musical notation is usually difficult at first, when switching to the left-handed piano. Usually for years the left hand is attached in the brain to the lower note line and the right hand to the upper note line. This is then reversed when using the left-handed piano and can lead to confusion, but not necessarily. Of course, it was not possible in the short time to find possible solutions for all difficulties that arose.
Each participant was able to gain new experiences and develop an inner richness through the continuous trying out of the mirrored keyboard. Everyone's music making abilities were raised to a new level, which felt much more comfortable and secure than the original experience, where handedness was disregarded. One participant also tried out the left-handed marimba that was available. She immediately succeeded in eliciting wonderful melodies and improvisations from it.
Since all participants at the meeting were not congenital self-promoters, photos were completely forgotten. However, we will change that at the next meeting by immediately appointing someone to take photos and videos.
The successful gathering continued with a bike ride to a swim in Lake Kirchsee and ended with a leisurely dinner in a typical Bavarian inn - the Neuwirt Sachsenkam.
All participants currently regret very much that the possibility of using the left-handed piano has not yet been opened up to today's generation of children, and thus many tales of woe are pre-programmed. As a result, some children will give up playing the piano before they really get going. This is sad.
During the conference, the following left-handed instruments were available to be tried out:
1) Haessler/Blüthner, acoustic left-handed piano; 5.9 inches (photo above).
2) PRO 88, electric piano by Blüthner; 6,5 inch
3) one of the first prototypes of the mirrored organ (electronic); 6.5 inches
4) marimba 4 1/3 octaves
6) 7/8 violin
If you would like to try out one or more of these left-handed instruments in Schaftlach in the Upper Bavarian area 40 km south of Munich with good train connections, please send me an e-mail.
It would be nice to have several owners of left-handed pianos making their instruments available for trying out, just like the owners of keyboards with key sizes adapted to the hands have been doing worldwide for years through their network paskpiano.org (PIANISTS FOR ALTERNATIVELY SIZED KEYBOARDS). That way, for those who like to try it out, travel distances would not be so far, and thus the inhibition threshold would be lower.
In this newsletter I would like to inform you about the current instrument procurement possibilities for left-handed keyboard instruments:
Most of Blüthner's electric pianos can be mirrored. Blüthner has its branches in Germany and all over the world. You should call there beforehand so that they have one of these pianos around and someone can demonstrate it to you.
Blüthner branch Austria: in Vienna
Blüthner branch Switzerland: in Grenchen
In addition, viewing and purchasing is possible directly via Geza Loso in Trier (Germany).
Soon a new, small and affordable Keyboard Mirror should be available. When it is released, the details will appear online here at 'Linksgespielt'.
Books and articles that address this topic:
1) Arnoldussen: 2020 book "Händigkeit und Instrument" / How do left-handed people make music?, in German
2) Bittner: 2017 book "The Left-Handed Drummer: Tips for Drummers and Drum Instructors", English version available
3) Loso: website Geza Loso / newspaper articles / YouTube
4) Maderer Sarah: 2021, 13./14.2. article Süddeutsche Zeitung: "Im Club der Unrechten" (The club of the unright), in German
5) Mengler: 2010 book "Musizieren mit links" (Making music with the left), in German
6) Schneider: 2014 article in the PianoNews magazine "Playing the left-handed piano – A hands-on experience", English version available
7) Seed: website Christopher Seed with a mirrored fortepiano
8) Thiel: 2006 article Westfälische Nachrichten: "Das total verkehrte Keyboard" (The totally reversed keyboard), in German
A book about "Heidi's search for the proper piano" and my unusual and increasingly exciting piano story is in the works.
Worldwide music making according to handedness from the very beginning would make a great contribution to true health prophylaxis and prevention of learning disorders.
Dissemination of this newsletter is strongly encouraged.
For further information about healthy music making at the piano and lectures about this topic I am at your disposal.
Dipl. med. Heidi Schneider, physician & continuing piano lover despite great hurdles Contact