Left-handed beginner pianist

Emily Mott said: Oct 6, 2015
 
Suzuki Association Member
Piano
1 posts

Of course my first ever Suzuki student turns out to be left-handed. Also, she is just barely 5. I am happy to try to teach her right hand first, as I learned, but she is already trying to copy my and her mom’s right-handed twinkles using her left hand (thumb etc.). We thought perhaps to keep her left hand occupied holding a stuffed friend might help.

I could teach her left hand twinkles first but I wonder if that would be advisable….

Any advice?

Cheryl said: Oct 6, 2015
Cheryl Ball
Suzuki Association Member
Piano
Dublin, OH
10 posts

I have always taught left-handed students the right hand first, and have never had a problem-but each student is different. As long as she learns right hand eventually you will be fine. In my mind the twinkles teach the student to copy what you are doing, helps them to understand the workings of a piece of music, and strengthen the fingers-so teaching left hand first would not hamper any of those things, but it might help your student feel successful-which IS important :)
I am left handed myself, and I know it can sometimes be frustrating living in a right handed world :) However, my left handed students did not try to copy my right hand by using their left. So your student might just be extremely right brained and profoundly left handed. If I felt like it would help the student, then I would begin teaching left hand twinkles first and continue this way on through The Honey Bee Song in this fashion. At this point I feel like the students are usually getting pretty good at following and learning on either hand.
After the Honey Bee song, I would probably say to the student that I didn’t want right hand to feel left out so let’s give right hand a chance to learn the Cuckoo Song first. :)
Hope that helps some :)

Vanessa Gordon said: Oct 8, 2015
Vanessa Gordon
Suzuki Association Member
Piano, Violin
1 posts

I have never taught left handed piano students any differently.
We start learning the twinkles one hand at a time, using just finger 3. Then just finger 2, then just finger 4 etc, making sure the arm is lined up behind the finger, no twist at wrist. This is done with Left hand alone. And it is done with right hand alone. It does not matter which hand goes first. Some lessons I ask to start with left hand, and other pieces we might do right hand first. The point is that the melodies of each of the beginning pieces are learnt by both hands, played separately. So, it really doesn’t matter which is their dominant hand.

Depending on the student, and usually by Lightly Row, they are using 5 fingers to play these early pieces.

We do not start with twinkle variations at the beginning. We teach twinkle THEME only. The variations , which are far more difficult technically, are introduced gradually while working through book 1. (unlike the violin.)

Vanessa

Vanessa Gordon

Lori Bolt said: Oct 9, 2015
Lori Bolt
Suzuki Association Member
Piano
San Clemente, CA
226 posts

I’ve always begun with the RH Twinkles regardless of a student’s dominate hand.
Haven’t encountered any huge difference.

Vanessa, I never thought to learn Twinkles with one finger first. I may try that with a younger student who struggles with all fingers at first. I’ve also not had any problems teaching Twinkle A, B or C right out of the gate. It seems to me that the one finger approach is best with these first Twinkles since Theme is all about legato on the piano…. not possible with one finger. I’ve not had a child be unable to learn these more complex rhythms :)

Lori Bolt

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