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I am quite cross-dominant - in some areas more than others. For instance, I consider myself right-handed, I write right-handed, I'd kick a football with my right-foot, but I play snooker/pool left handed and I'm more dexterous (sinistrous?) at some things with my left-hand. (e.g., I can twirl a stick much better left handed than right handed, but if I need to do precise motor movements I'd use my right hand). For things like sweeping or digging, I'm equally comfortable with either hand.

When playing piano and trying to relax and play fluently, one of my most common errors is that my left hand starts to play right-hand parts, or vice versa. I'm sure there is an element of this for all piano players, what with trying to do two things somewhat independently at the same time, but do any other cross-dominant players suffer especially from this? And what do you do about it? (if anything other than practice, practice, practice!)

  • What counts as cross-dominant? I'm right-handed, but I shoot right instead of left, and I unscrew jars with my left hand (because my right hand is too busy holding the jar down). I also tend to flip pages with my left hand. (My trills and tremolos are faster in my right hand, though.) – Dekkadeci Nov 20 '18 at 1:05
  • Is your left hand playing the right-hand music? Or does it just start to play, for instance, the rhythms of the right-hand music? – Richard Nov 20 '18 at 2:19
  • Most often it's notes in the wrong octave (e.g., I play the RH notes in the LH octave). Some pieces I find particularly difficult to 'de-sync' to the extent that (for instance) I concentrate hard on correcting the mistake in my LH only to find I then play the RH incorrectly...it is very annoying....and persists even when I slow right down – Kyudos Nov 20 '18 at 2:27
  • Practice, practice, practice. That's all there is to it. – Carl Witthoft Nov 20 '18 at 14:01
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Sounds like your situation is somewhat like ambidextrousness.

You should practice each hands’ part individually, if you have not done so already. When practicing together, focus on one hand (the hand that has harder music). You shouldn’t play the same thing in both hands if you focus on one.

  • I don’t know anything about ambidextrousness so I can’t contribute a full answer, but it seems to me that focusing on only one hand might actually cause the problem of the two hands “joining”. Removing focus from one hand makes it a prime candidate to join the one you concentrate on. Instead I would recommend focusing on how the hands combine (which notes are together, which intervals do they create). When one hand forgets its own part and joins the other hand, the relation between the two hands is lost, so if you focus on this relation, both hands have to contribute. – 11684 Dec 1 '18 at 23:53
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This has been an issue for me with learning musical instruments for most of my life. I have always been better at wind instruments, which only required one active hand at a time. I could never play piano without my hands 'fighting' over the melody.

Finally, however - and at 35 years old, I managed to work it out. It was on the accordion of all things. I can't tell you a specific exercise I did, other than constantly forcing the fingers on one hand to play a different rhythm than the fingers on the other, even when not actively practicing.

I have no certain idea of what happened neurologically. My best guess is the practice eventually engaged the right synapses. But I can tell you I was losing hope, and one day it just clicked.

My best advice is not to practice each part separately so much as very slowly with carefully monitored tempo. It's all about the timing.

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