Left-handed trombone players...

Will the Sec

Active Member
There should be no problem. Guy Dawes of Fulham Brass has played the bass trombone left handed for 35 years, and uses a right handed plug.
 

ScrapingtheBottom

Active Member
Will the Sec said:
There should be no problem. Guy Dawes of Fulham Brass has played the bass trombone left handed for 35 years, and uses a right handed plug.

How? Surely the triggers would require some modification?

doubleplug said:
Chris,

1. Rath Troms were great. The only soldering mod required was to move the F triger to the opposite side of the support bar and add/delete the linkages so the valve turned correctly. The bach still used rotary valves so the mod was fairly easy (Thayer valves I suspect practically impossible). As regards costs - minor relative to the cost of the instrument with a turnaround of 4-5 days.

2. I Take your point on the Bach. It was the valve setup that dictated the purchase as much as anything else.

Real issue on the topic has to be whether one is naturally left or right handed. For trombone players this will dictate the relative strength of the slide arm (laziness) and the brains ability set the correct position without the player having to continualy adjust by sight.

I also forgot to mention, if one wishes to sell the instrument on afterwards, the market is somewhat reduced.

I think these concerns are just as valid as issues arising from the actual playing of the instrument. The economics of playing an instrument are very important for young players, the amount of even a few hundred pounds can be a deciding factor.

Personally I think it is important to get the best trombone you can with your money, budgeting in customisations because you play the instrument southpaw could price some models out for you.
 

highlander

New Member
TIMBONE said:
As far as I am aware, with a handful of exceptions (no pun intended) all classically trained violinists play right handed.
Sorry but you are so wrong. There are lots of left handed violinist that play it the "wrong" way. Looks quit funny on stage when they play it in the oposite direction.

About left handed trombone playing. Let the kid play the way he prefers is the best for him.
 

bass bone tim

New Member
I don't think that's a good idea. if he ever wants to play on a bass trom, or a trom with an f plug he'll have real problems. It won't take that long to get used to playing with his right hand. After a few months it'll come naturally, and after a few years of playing when he improves he won't even remember playing it the other way. I know there are examples of successful players playing "backwards" but there are many more left handed players playing right handed who aren't mentioned. The "lefties" are only famous for it because it looks different. I think he should learn the instrument how it is supposed to be played.
 

andyp

Active Member
Thanks for all the replies, very interesting. I only started the topic because I'd never seen anyone play a trom left-handed, and being a cornet player what I know about trombones can be written on the end of a grain of rice!
For the moment we're leaving the lad left-handed, apparently if he tries it right-handed all his co-ordination goes out the window completely.
Are there maybe different "degrees" of left/right handedness? i.e unable to co-ordinate the other hand for anything at all (except support, obviously), as opposed to being, say, 70% left handed, so being able to play right-handed reasonably well.
I'm thinking of this as opposed to being ambidextrous, like my brother (who is an absolute pain to play table tennis against, as he can hit forehands both sides, and frequently does!).
 

Laserbeam bass

Active Member
Just to point out that playing the trombone is a freak of nature and playing it left handed is obviously due to some faustian deal
ac43.gif
 

MoominDave

Well-Known Member
stevetrom said:
As an aside, Rugby Salvation Army band used to have a left-handed Eb Bass.

It was made for a player who lost the use of his right arm, all a long time before I can remember but has anyone come accross any other left handed instruments?
Someone at Warwick Uni when I was there played a right-handed French Horn. I believe it cost her quite a lot of money.
 

TIMBONE

Active Member
highlander said:
Sorry but you are so wrong. There are lots of left handed violinist that play it the "wrong" way. Looks quit funny on stage when they play it in the oposite direction.
Maybe times have changed and I missed it. In my musical career, I have known quite a few 'left handed' violinists who all play the traditional bow in the right hand way. I appreciate that you think I am so wrong. Having said that, I would be interested to see a picture of any professional symphony orchestra in the world with a violinist playing with the bow in the left hand.
 

funk

New Member
He may also have to turn the trom upside down to blow water out too!
hello all, just thought i would have a go at correcting 1 or two things.
i play left handed trombone in a 8 piece recording funk band, have done for years.
So the upside down water thing,
no you don't have to turn it upside down,
its the same as normal because you take the slide off and turn that around,
try it you will see what i mean.
if your question is "Why play that way" ?
the simple answer is.. its no other reason than i feel more comfortable playing it that way :)
 

2nd tenor

Well-Known Member
IIRC not all slides are identical on each leg and triggers are certainly handed, but really isn’t the handing of a Trombone a non-issue? It might take a little time to get used to but using the slide with your non-dominant hand surely cannot be that hard. When I drive my car I use my non-dominant hand to operate the handbrake and the gear lever and my non-dominant foot to work the clutch, it’s never been an issue ...
 
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funk

New Member
"IIRC not all slides are identical on each leg and triggers are certainly handed, but really isn’t the handing of a Trombone a non-issue? It might take a little time to get used to but using the slide with your non-dominant hand surely cannot be that hard. When I drive my car I use my non-dominant hand to operate the handbrake and the gear lever and my non-dominant foot to work the clutch, it’s never been an issue ..."

i see, i suppose if they are both the same length and bore then i would think it matters not,
if it sounds right, then it is right :)
Regarding dominant hand, eat you tea with just a fork... what hand is it in ? ( if your right handed ) the right.
now eat your tea with a knife and fork, Now what hand is your fork in ?.. the left, ok so right is the dominant hand,
but the net result is still pushing food into your face, how it gets there is irrelevant other than a visual aspect.
The net result of playing trombone is getting the notes out,
how we do it matters not as long as they are right.

just to dig my hole a bit deeper for strangeness... i also play flute with my top lip on the top of the lip plate
leaving my bottom jaw to do all sorts of stuff i cant do the other way around, again its just what we adapt to do, but it does freak my friend out, who also plays flute, haha
 

funk

New Member
Sorry all, my mistake, when i said this " its the same as normal because you take the slide off and turn that around," i was thinking about it and thought hold on the lock ring would be on the wrong side then.
So... to amend my first post.
No you don't take the slide of and turn that around.
you just infact turn the whole thing around 180 deg, so the mouth piece is still on top and hay presto the water valve is on the bottom.
there ya go, that was easy.
sorry about that :)
 

Jack E

Well-Known Member
Okaaaay . . . like @doubleplug, I can pitch in with personal experience, here. Like many in my generation, when I turned out to be left-handed, my incredibly old-fashioned dad insisted on my mum forcing me to use my right hand - and this was before I was three months old :rolleyes:. His argument was that if I grew up left-handed, it would cause me all sorts of problems; the reality was that, him being Irish, and brought up with Victorian attitudes, he had this mental connection between left-handedness and Satanism :rolleyes: - so, to save me from the perils of trying to use right-handed scissors with my left hand, I was forced into doing everything the wrong way round. And then my dad constantly complained about how clumsy I was at everything! What the hell did he expect?? (I only found out about being born a southpaw after he died)
Now this is the first important bit, re. pushing lefties to do things right-handed; when I was about 18, my older sister met a woman who did counselling work with children, and she mentioned to Moira that one of her constant sources of work was . . . you guessed it - children who were born left-handed and then forced to switch to the right hand!
Moira said "That's interesting; my brother was born left-handed, and my parents made him switch when he was a baby, so of course he didn't remember anything about it, and only found out when he was 15."
The counsellor asked Moira: "So - did he stammer, or bite his nails?"
When Moira replied that I bit my nails, the counsellor said "In my experience, they always do one or the other, and sometimes both! That gives you an idea of how much stress it puts them under."
Moving right along . . . many years later, I tried to learn to play guitar; plugged away at it for two years, and got absolutely nowhere - all fingers and thumbs. Having previously tried to play piano and violin, with an equal lack of success, I concluded that I would never be a musician. Nearly 50 years later, I went to see a performance by a local brass band, and during the session, the MD said that they had a learner's section, they could lend you an instrument, and give you a free lesson a week - so I thought "What the hell - give it a go." To my astonishment, I got on pretty well, and far better than I'd expected.
But, came Lockdown . . . and the band was put in limbo. After about four or five months, with no end in sight, I was climbing the walls, so looked round for something else to do (as I found just playing a one-note-at-a-time instrument by myself, and never with others, just left me cold). After listening to a lot of music on the net, I plumped for a banjo - but while considering which one to go for, I was doodling around with a bass guitar one day and, just out of curiosity, I swung it over to the LH position - and it just felt RIGHT. No wonder I got nowhere with trying to learn guitar right-handed!
And it worked out that way with banjo, too. I found a company in Faversham who not only make left-handed banjos - they pretty much make a banjo in any configuration you want - so I took the plunge and bought a left-hander, started taking lessons with a top-notch teacher in Sheffield, and both she and I are delighted at the steady progress I'm making.
Now for the second bit - playing trombone left-handed.
Last night, I spotted a Boosey & Hawkes Regent tenor trombone on Ebay - for £87 inc. shipping. It looks in good nick, seller has 100% + feedback, so I sealed the deal (hope to have it about the end of the week). The first baritone I had of my own was a very battered Regent, which showed signs of being a hard used 'band loan' instrument - but, even though the seller offered me two others, one of which was in better physical shape, as soon as I tried the Regent, I felt "Yep - this is the one I want!" Despite its many scars, it was a delight to play, and made a very lovely sound.
Some time later, when I tried playing trombone (as the band I was learning with had enough baritones but were short of a trombonist), I remember getting in a real muddle as to how it went together, and it felt . . . awkward. So, when my (straight Bb) Regent arrives, I'll try playing it left-handed, see how I get on, and post my experiences on here.
What I think is often unappreciated is that handedness varies a heck of a lot from one person to another. When I was an RAF radio mech, I met some right-handed blokes who could use a soldering iron with their left hand, in awkward situations - and others who couldn't do it at all. Same applies to banjos. When I was doing some research before buying, I saw plenty of comments from posters saying "I'm left-handed, but I learnt to play a right-hand banjo, so what's the problem?" - countered by others, who (like me on guitar), had really struggled with a RH banjo for a long while, yet took to playing LH no trouble at all.
And I know perfectly well (from my experience with guitar) that if I'd bought a RH banjo, two years down the line I'd STILL be struggling with it and getting nowhere.
To state the obvious, people are not churned out on a production line - and even those born left-handed can be as different as chalk and cheese. With sufficient determination, and relentless practise, maybe I could have learnt to play a right-hand banjo - but when it is so damn OBVIOUS to me that I find playing left handed so much easier to do, so much quicker to learn, and so much more fluid, what's the point?
I note what others have said about the considerable benefits of being able to use a trigger - but, as doubleplug points out, as long as you have the right Bb/F trombone, they can be adapted. That costs money, and restricts your choice of instruments? Sure, it does - but how do you put a price tag on slogging through a learning process which is way harder than it needs be? I've no doubt it can be done - even by somebody who finds it as awkward as I do - but where's the sense in going hiking with your boots on the wrong feet when you don't have to?
FWIW, my advice to @andyp would be, let the boy try it both ways, and make his own choice.
With best regards,
Jack E
PS - attached pictures of my Regent, from the Ebay advert:
 

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Jack E

Well-Known Member
"It won't take that long to get used to playing with his right hand. After a few months it'll come naturally, and after a few years of playing when he improves he won't even remember playing it the other way."
Are you speaking from personal experience, Tim? Because I am - having wasted two years trying to learn to play a right-handed guitar and got absolutely nowhere, and it still felt as awkward as the first day I picked it up. I grant you that many left-handers can and do learn to play right-handed instruments, but I can assure you from my own experience (and from speaking to many others), that, for many of us lefties, it does not "come naturally after a few months" - nor, I strongly suspect, would it do so even after a few years.
If I've learnt anything from different instruments I've played - or tried to play - it's that 'one size does not fit all'.
With best regards,
Jack E
 

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