Playing with hand injury?

Posted: 6/25/2020 12:17:47 PM

Joined: 6/25/2020

Hi everyone!
I used to play around with Theremins when I was a teenager and would love to learn again, now being stuck at home more. The thing is, I have an injury on my left hand. My left middle finger is completely stiff since an accident 4 yrs ago. It will maybe even be amputated at some point but for now I just have a completely immobile finger.

How would this affect playing the Theremin? If crucial, would it be possible to play the instrument the with flipped antennas, kind of a left-handed version? 

All input and infos are greatly appreciated.
Many thanks! 

Posted: 6/25/2020 4:23:23 PM

From: 60 Miles North of San Diego, CA

Joined: 10/1/2014

If you are normally right handed then the injury is to your volume control hand. This should not get in the way of you becoming a good player. Play the theremin like most, do not turn it around. 

The Pitch Antenna side for precision requires good finger and wrist control.

Practice Practice Practice


Posted: 6/26/2020 3:46:43 AM
CB Thereminist

From: Ontario

Joined: 1/28/2020

As Oldtemecula said, a right-handed theremin (which is standard) will have the pitch antenna on the right and the volume antenna on the left when you approach it. In this instance, the problems are definitely manageable. If you are used to your left arm being your pitch arm, however... we may need to have a different discussion. But first, let's assume you'll be controlling volume with your left and pitch with your right.

With an immobile middle finger on your left hand, you'll be okay to play. Truly refined theremin playing is as much in the volume technique as the pitch technique, and there is a lot of nuanced finger movement involved, but much of it can be accomplished in the wrist and arm. Even then, other finger movements will still produce dynamic effects. Some very accomplished thereminists, in various ways, actually keep their middle finger extended a little beyond the rest of their fingers when playing so they are better able to control dynamics when playing softly. So really, working with your circumstances may actually provide you some advantage in the (re-)learning process that other thereminists do not have, as it's normally something people consider much later without realising how much it helps their sound.

Tl;dr: I think you can absolutely do it if the situation is as I understand it. In fact, you may even be able to turn it into a great strength, as it resembles a dynamic technique most beginners do not learn until later. I hope you're able to rediscover and enjoy the instrument once more!

Posted: 6/26/2020 6:11:48 AM

Joined: 6/25/2020

Thank you both so much! I think I was confused yesterday after watching some artists play the Theremin backwards. That is great to hear, I’m excited now and will look for one. 

Thank you again for your responses!

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