So, I have a great deal of ambidexterity that appears to be a result of being forced to be right handed when I was born naturally left. I golf left handed, eat left handed, etc. I also seem to have been born with a great deal of natural finger dexterity, despite not having overly large hands or long fingers (if you're gonna make a joke, I promise, I've heard it). I played professional pool for many years and as a result of which, my left hand is extremely limber. I can type around 100WPM (this drops 5WPM per shot of scotch, I know, I've experimented). Mathematically, I'm pretty lucky in that I like it and I'm good at the higher level maths. I can work a deck of cards. I have zero music ability or talent. Will any of my physical attributes carry over if I want to learn to play piano or am I just gonna have to work on another skill?

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    Being someone who generally enjoys learning new skills, who also started with zero ability or talent, and also being a bit mathematically minded, even if you have to work your ass off at it, I would expect music to one of the most rewarding possible skills to work your ass off at. Commented Jan 3, 2017 at 23:36
  • @ToddWilcox Absolutely. A basic level of competency on pretty much any instrument can be the basis for so much joy, and personal growth!
    – Some_Guy
    Commented Jan 4, 2017 at 12:06
  • But then I guess this opinion probably goes without saying on music SE
    – Some_Guy
    Commented Jan 4, 2017 at 12:07

1 Answer 1


The physical aspect of learning any musical instrument involves a lot of specific motor skills and muscle memory, from gross positioning to fine touch. While general coordination from billiards and typing can help with basics, it’s likely that musical timing and expressiveness will require entirely new skills. That said, you are not particularly disadvantaged either. The basics of learning a new instrument – physical familiarity with the layout, scales and chords, posture and touch – take an adult about 1–3 years regardless of prior experience. Ambidexterity does not make a lot of difference either, as most musical instruments require significant coordination from both hands, with a slight bias toward the right hand.

  • Except on the violin, or basically any orchestral string, which is the exact opposite as far as hand bias goes. Commented Jan 4, 2017 at 4:35
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    I hear the same thing said about guitar, but my experience with both as a left-hander is that right-hand technique is so essential to accuracy and expression that any perceived advantage to the left hand is illusory. It is a pain to wrangle a bow with your off hand. Commented Jan 4, 2017 at 9:31
  • @BraddSzonye With guitar I think it's probably true if you want to strum chords as basic accompaniment, but past that it no longer is and is probably the other way round. I think this canard is essentially spread because it's true when you're a beginner guitarist trying to play basic chords and melodies.
    – Some_Guy
    Commented Jan 4, 2017 at 12:05
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    Your comment brings me tears of joy. Yes, it is true that the right arm, at the very least, has all the expressive, virtuosic properties on said string instruments, although I would venture to draw a distinction between "arm" and "hand," especially since the original question and answer is in the context of piano. Commented Jan 4, 2017 at 15:22
  • @GeneralNuisance - totally agree. There's a lot of difference between 'arm' and 'fingers', which seems to be ignored when discussing 'handedness'. Jimi managed well, though...
    – Tim
    Commented Jan 5, 2017 at 13:10

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