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Lorac's rocky road to becoming a left-handed cellist

One of the core tasks of Linksgespielt is to find, make visible and connect left-handed playing musicians from all over the world. We have already found colleagues in Mexico, Argentina, Venezuela, Canada, Poland, Russia, France, Belgium and many more. And sometimes they also find us: like Lorac Chu, a young left-handed cellist living in Hong Kong.

In our interview she shares her story.


Do you see yourself as left- or right-handed? And is that a part of your identity as a musician?

I’ve always seen myself as a left-handed person. But I found that sometimes I can use both hands, like when I'm using a knife, painting oil paintings and so on.

There’s nothing special in doing things left-handed. I just always feel so comfortable when doing it. So I think that’s nothing about my identity as a musician. Some people don’t even notice it when I’m playing for them.


What is the general situation for left-handed people in china?

Actually left-handed persons are not treated very friendly in China. I don’t know, if it was because of some belief or traditional religions or what, but the olds in my family always wanted to try to change my hand preference when I was a little kindergarten kid. That’s the reason why I write with my right hand. They changed me when I was just a little kindergarten kid. I was not knowing it that time. I think, that if I could have chosen I definitely wouldn’t have allowed them to change me. There’s only few left-handed people in China, just like me, many people were forced to change by their family when they were young. But I think that there will be more inclusivity when our generation is grown up.

So being virtue of these reasons, there’s almost NO left-handed musicians in China. (So we’re rarer than pandas, right? Lol!)

Have you always played your instrument ‚the other way round‘? And why?

Well, I was playing left-handed from when I started to play the violin until now that I play the cello. I’ve never played the right-handed way seriously, but I have tried it once: it was impossible for me to play a song like that! About all, maybe the only reason for me to play left-handed is: this is the most comfortable way for me to play good music.

Have you faced any reservations or concerns from other people about learning your instruments left-handed? From where did you get support?

My general concern is finding a suitable job for me. I had doubted in my lefty playing way. There was a time when I didn’t have confidence in myself. Firstly I was worrying if left-handed players can join an orchestra. Secondly my study time was too short compared with other musicians, because I couldn’t find any cello teacher before 2021.

Fortunately some great musicians helped me a lot. Last year my playing video was uploaded on Facebook by Ms. Nancy Zhang, a Chinese cellist based in America. Many people commented ‚Play in a normal way!’, ’You can’t play in an orchestra!’… Honestly, they discouraged me with some words but there were also some nice people who encouraged me and told me that I was not the only person in the whole world to play the cello left-handed. This really surprised me. And they suggested me to watch maestro Abner Jairo Ortiz García‘s videos on YouTube. By the way, he left his inspiration comment. I watched it and his playing was so wonderful!!! Meanwhile, there are some words hiding in his music, which is: ‘you can also do it you’ll be a good cellist, too!’ Thanks to everyone who helped me so much in this journey.

Did you have a role model in left-handed playing? Are you connected with other lefty players?

As you know, maestro Abner Jairo Ortiz García is really a model of left-hand cellists. I know that he won some prizes at great cello competitions – I admire him. Also, Hans-Ludwig Becker is an excellent role-model for me. He is always willing to help me and inspires me. We communicate on Instagram I truly wanna hear him play!

How did you come by your instruments?

My first cello was made for left-handed playing. Her name is Monica. She was made in Peking. I was playing left-handed initially until now. It was truly the perfect way for me to play left-handed.

The cello that I’m currently using is Paula. She is my second lefty cello and was made by my luthier Mr. LOK Man-Fei in Canton also for left-handed playing.

Do you play in an orchestra? What are your experiences with playing left-handed there? Have there been any problems? How could it be solved?

Yeah I am currently the principal cello in our school orchestra. I can’t tell you how fun the experience playing in the orchestra is! It was just so charming and needs 100% focusing on the score and the conductor. Usually I sat in the ‘outside’ which is the principle’s position. Mine and my partner’s bow would hit each other if we were sitting too close. But the solution is easy - it would be perfect if we sit not that close. I believe that the space is definitely enough for us.

Does playing left-handed present any advantages?

I think both advantages and disadvantages happened in my life. The advantage is I was more likely to be remembered during every collaboration, competition or performance. Most audiences noticed me because I played in left-handed and my prettiest face. They would be extremely curious about the way I play and ask me many questions after concerts.


About the disadvantages, there’re still some people who has prejudice against me. Someone contacted me before and said that lefty musicians would always sit in the back of the orchestra and some people think that playing left-handed is a gimmick. But I got admitted in my university because of my good performance. And I do believe that the key to determining whether you pass the orchestra audition is how well you perform during the audition, not whether you play “the way way” or “left-handed”. If an orchestra only pursues extreme uniformity too much, requiring everyone to play in the same "normal" way, regardless of the quality of the music, this is not an orchestra but an army of a totalitarian country.



Watch Lorac's video interview




 

We wish Lorac all the best and success in achieving her dreams and goals. Go, Lorac!



You can follow her journey on Instagram.


Lorac Chu posing with her cello
Lorac Chu


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