Year

1991

Degree Name

Master of Arts (Hons.)

Department

Faculty of Education

Abstract

The primary objective of this study is to synthesise from the literature and prior research studies the background to the determinants and assessment of handedness, especially left-handedness as applied to music and musicians, and particularly left-handedness as it affects beginner pianists.

The writer, in private practice, has noticed that left-handed children in the early stages of learning to play the piano, exhibit, when reading notation, some confusion in directing the appropriate left or right hands as indicated by the music. This appears to be a confusion as to which direction, on the horizontal keyboard (to the left or to the right), is expected by the written vertical movement of notes on the staff (either up or down). This same confusion seems to be rarely and/or only slightly exhibited by right-handed children. So for the purposes of this study two hypotheses were put. Namely: • a left-handed child in the early stages of learning to play a musical keyboard instrument will exhibit (when reading notation) more misdirection of the appropriate left or right hand as indicated by the music, than a right-handed child; and • a left-handed child, even after a period of early tuition, consolidation and practice on a musical keyboard instrument, will still exhibit (when reading notation) greater misdirection of the appropriate left or right hand as indicated by the music, than a right-handed child.

The secondary objective of this study is to provide a pertinent and new contribution to this area, and so this study attempts, with a small random sample of young left-handed and right-handed beginners at the piano, to test empirically, through a series of specially designed basic exercises, the two hypotheses.

Having provided specific information on the nature, complications and disadvantages of left-handedness from the synthesis of the literature on the topic, and the confirmed evidence of misdirectioning of hands from the experimental study, this research then makes recommendations for further studies on the topic which would lead to the formulation of appropriate teaching strategies and methods, construction of remedial exercises at the keyboard and support pedagogy to be used by the piano teacher of the problem beginner left-hander.

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