Terje Moe Hansen
Terje Moe Hansen studied at the Music Conservatory in Oslo and continued his studies in Copenhagen and London. His soloist debut took place in Oslo at the University Aula in 1984. As a soloist he has toured all over Europe, the United States and Asia. His last DVD recording, Stunts and Poetry is the most seen video at the American Strings magazine. His teaching methods and results are making a stir in ever wider international circles. His method is presented in books like The Geometric All Interval System, and A Modern Approach to Violin Virtuosity (Warner). His recordings and book projects have been an important door opener for him,
June 23, 2022
We conducted this interview in English. A German translation will be available soon.
Do you see yourself as left-handed or right-handed? Is that a part of your identity as a musician?
I am absolutely left-handed! My left side is dominating in every action I do. When I was a child, the teachers advised me to change my writing hand from left to right. It was not a success and felt like a provocation against my identity. Today we do not regard the hands as the right or wrong, good or bad. We see many musicians and sportsmen like Paul McCartney and Rafael playing links. In classical music we still have a way to go. But we see a development towards new possibilities to get a links instrument.
Have you always played your instrument ‚the other way round‘?
I have played with the bow in the left hand from the beginning. I had the feeling from the start that I had played before and it felt most natural. Both hands are of course of equal importance, but the movements of the bow hand are longer, and have endless variations of contrasts, subtile nuances and is therefore dominant for me.
Have you faced any reservations or concerns from other people about learning the violin left-handed? From where did you get support?
Of course I met resistance by playing the other way around. My teachers in the beginning tried of course to change my playing, but they understood it would be impossible to have the same progress, when it felt unnatural for me. To be honest, the only support in the beginning was from my own conviction.
How did you come by your instruments?
My father was an amateur violin maker. In the beginning we just changed the bridge and nothing inside the instrument. It worked ok, but the sound of course was not the best this way. Later he made a very nice violin with all the ‚right‘ adjustments. It can be heard on Spotify, I loved that instrument!
Do or did you play in an orchestra? What are your experiences with playing left-handed there?
I have some experience playing in orchestras many years ago. I remember the fantastic feeling of greatness of music making together, but also the feeling of being different and I was afraid of the visual impression I made.
Has your left-handed playing ever caused any funny or strange situations?
Some funny situations I also experienced, like on a chamber music course I told my teacher who did not know me, that I had some problems with my fingers and could not play. Then I proposed, that I could try the other way around. He was shocked, when he heard the results and got a good laugh, when he realized the joke!
Does playing left-handed present any advantages?
One great advantage of playing the violin left-handed is in fact playing quartet. The sound is fabulous when both violins point when both violins point at the same angle towards the public!
As a violin professor at the Norges musikkhøgskole, what experiences as a left-hander did you have in teaching? Did you ever have students playing left-handed, too?
I have never met any negativity with my left hand playing as a teacher. Maybe the students want to mention it, if problematic.
I must admit I only once was teaching an advanced links student. In the beginning it was confusing because it was something completely new for me. I only see right hand bowing, also myself in a mirror. But soon, I managed to get the comfortable and normal feeling during my teaching.