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Teaching a Leftie (or not)

Postby Ian Shaw » Sat Apr 06, 2019 7:16 pm

Hi Guys,

I think this is the best place to post this.

My 8yr old daughter wants to learn guitar, so I sat down with her & a small nylon strung guitar we have and noticed she is trying play left-handed even though she is right-handed.
She says she finds it more comfortable that way

Question is: do I let her carry on that way, string the guitar the other way round, or do I try to teach her to play right-handed, which would be easier for me?

I've also hidden away a right- handed electric for when she is a bit older. Doh!

What do the tutors among you do when faced with this?

Many thanks in advance.

Eye of The Tiger, here we come. That's the first thing she wants to learn!

Ian
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Re: Teaching a Leftie (or not)

Postby Eddy Deegan » Sat Apr 06, 2019 7:32 pm

A lot of people who identify as right or left handed have an opposite preference for some things. I write right handed, but anything involving swinging a golf-club/baseball bat/axe etc. I do left handed and I'm also a lefty at archery. One of the kids is right handed for everything except using a knife and fork.

If she really finds it more comfortable playing left handed then personally I'd let her get on with it that way. I found a lovely little acoustic 3/4 size left handed guitar for my left handed step daughter a few years ago and in some ways it made showing her some basic shapes easier because sitting opposite each other my right handed and her left handed guitar necks had the heads pointing in the same direction :-)
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Re: Teaching a Leftie (or not)

Postby Wonks » Sat Apr 06, 2019 7:46 pm

I'd stick with right-handed. If she sticks at it, it's then so much easier. Simply buying a guitar gives over 900% more choice. It makes learning so much easier with things like chord diagrams and tab - otherwise you've got to transpose everything.
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Re: Teaching a Leftie (or not)

Postby BJG145 » Sat Apr 06, 2019 8:52 pm

Eddy Deegan wrote:A lot of people who identify as right or left handed have an opposite preference for some things..One of the kids is right handed for everything except using a knife and fork.

If she really finds it more comfortable playing left handed then personally I'd let her get on with it that way.

When I started reading your reply I remembered that I've used a fork in my right hand all my life. It rarely crosses my mind that it's unconventional. Likewise, my initial reaction was, well, let her do what she wants. She can always change if she feels like it, and it might help her to come up with an original approach to the instrument.

...on the other hand, I can see that adopting the usual method makes a lot of sense as well!

I don't know. Perhaps explain this whole thing. Show her the thread and let her decide. ;)
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Re: Teaching a Leftie (or not)

Postby ef37a » Sat Apr 06, 2019 9:55 pm

I think she will be forever damned if she stays leftie.

I heard the advice decades ago (Bert Weedon?!) that a proper southpaw has a stronger and more dextrous left hand anyway so use it to advantage.

There are almost no other instruments made in left handed versions save guitars. I recently saw a programme about the making of the scythe. Only ever right handed scythes because the job was done by teams...'Ave some bugger's legs off!"

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Re: Teaching a Leftie (or not)

Postby Wonks » Sat Apr 06, 2019 10:30 pm

ef37a wrote: I recently saw a programme about the making of the scythe. Only ever right handed scythes because the job was done by teams...'Ave some bugger's legs off!"

Don't fear the reaper.

...(cue cowbell).
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Re: Teaching a Leftie (or not)

Postby blinddrew » Sun Apr 07, 2019 9:54 am

When i first started playing i thought that a guitar was a bit of a back-to-front instrument.
For a right-handed person you had your 'good' hand just covering six points (just six strings), whereas your 'bad' hand had to cover at least 72!
Over time i realised, as you all will know, that actually the fretting fingers are largely doing a mechanical task, whereas the feel and musicality comes from the plucking/picking/strumming hand.
So I would ask your daughter which hand she has better control on and hope, for the sake of your future budget, that it's the right one! :)
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Re: Teaching a Leftie (or not)

Postby ef37a » Sun Apr 07, 2019 11:00 am

blinddrew wrote:When i first started playing i thought that a guitar was a bit of a back-to-front instrument.
For a right-handed person you had your 'good' hand just covering six points (just six strings), whereas your 'bad' hand had to cover at least 72!
Over time i realised, as you all will know, that actually the fretting fingers are largely doing a mechanical task, whereas the feel and musicality comes from the plucking/picking/strumming hand.
So I would ask your daughter which hand she has better control on and hope, for the sake of your future budget, that it's the right one! :)

Err, what about bends and pulloffs? I would say the fretting hand tires quicker, hurts more at the start and generally works harder so using the "tougher" hand right at the start when you know no better is a bit of an advantage.

On keyboards the left hand can have a great deal more to do than the right, boogie but I don't see Jools wanting an A about face Joe?

Then I guess I speak as one who is fairly ambidextrous? As a technician you often have to use your left hand to get into things when your right would feel more natural. I cannot write with my left however for toffee nor play guitar (when I did a bit). I was also entirely self taught on guitar which meant I picked up some bad habits re fingering which meant used my little finger wrongly and have never beaten the habit.
Bottom line: Get professional tuition asap and hold the bloody thing the same way as every other sane person!

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Re: Teaching a Leftie (or not)

Postby The Bunk » Sun Apr 07, 2019 11:47 am

Eddy Deegan wrote:A lot of people who identify as right or left handed have an opposite preference for some things. I write right handed, but anything involving swinging a golf-club/baseball bat/axe etc. I do left handed and I'm also a lefty at archery. One of the kids is right handed for everything except using a knife and fork.

If she really finds it more comfortable playing left handed then personally I'd let her get on with it that way.

I'd agree with the last line here.
As a kid playing cricket with my old man, I used to bat "right handed" until he basically realised I was sh*te and told me to try "left handed"; success! What's odd though...and Eddy has referred to this...is that with a batsman in cricket, the top hand on the bat handle usually does more than 50% of the work and is certainly the hand in control; so that's my right hand. So why am I called "left-handed"?
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Re: Teaching a Leftie (or not)

Postby blinddrew » Sun Apr 07, 2019 12:01 pm

ef37a wrote:
blinddrew wrote:When i first started playing i thought that a guitar was a bit of a back-to-front instrument.
For a right-handed person you had your 'good' hand just covering six points (just six strings), whereas your 'bad' hand had to cover at least 72!
Over time i realised, as you all will know, that actually the fretting fingers are largely doing a mechanical task, whereas the feel and musicality comes from the plucking/picking/strumming hand.
So I would ask your daughter which hand she has better control on and hope, for the sake of your future budget, that it's the right one! :)

Err, what about bends and pulloffs? I would say the fretting hand tires quicker, hurts more at the start and generally works harder so using the "tougher" hand right at the start when you know no better is a bit of an advantage.

On keyboards the left hand can have a great deal more to do than the right, boogie but I don't see Jools wanting an A about face Joe?

Then I guess I speak as one who is fairly ambidextrous? As a technician you often have to use your left hand to get into things when your right would feel more natural. I cannot write with my left however for toffee nor play guitar (when I did a bit). I was also entirely self taught on guitar which meant I picked up some bad habits re fingering which meant used my little finger wrongly and have never beaten the habit.
Bottom line: Get professional tuition asap and hold the bloody thing the same way as every other sane person!

Dave.
Ah well, I'm neither ambidextrous nor a very good guitarist... ;)
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Re: Teaching a Leftie (or not)

Postby Sam Spoons » Sun Apr 07, 2019 12:10 pm

Instruments where both hands have equal importance (keys, woodwind, harp) don't need 'handed' versions, orchestral string players all need to bow the same way (you'll 'ave someones eye out wiv that ;) similar to Wonks' scythes). Brass players don't seem to have any trouble keying with the right hand even though you could probably hold a trumpet 'wrong way 'round (but French Horn players key with their left hand, presumably 'cos early horns had no keys ant they used the right hand for stopping to get the missing notes).

There are some (very few) left handed fiddlers though....

Playing right handed makes sense if you can avoid it putting her off but otherwise let her go with what's comfortable.
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Re: Teaching a Leftie (or not)

Postby ef37a » Sun Apr 07, 2019 1:01 pm

MY scythes if you please Sam!

I wonder how many left hand guitars existed 100 years ago?

Sure, the Beatles looked cool on stage but there was only four of them. AFAIK Hendrix used a stock guitar and just played it lefty so he did not have the problem of rare, expensive specials. He was also a bit of a genius?

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Re: Teaching a Leftie (or not)

Postby Watchmaker » Sun Apr 07, 2019 1:14 pm

Tough question. when I was young (and I've never outgrown it), I sometimes did things "differently" as an act of instinct, not realizing that there were consequences that later called the wisdom of following that instinct into question.

But handed-ness is a baffling phenomena and I'm glad you're not forcing her. My view is you should present the question and possible ramifications to her as nicely and supportively as you can. Guitar is unnatural feeling to begin with for everyone, but if she intakes knowledge and understanding more clearly with the left hand, that advantage outweighs other concerns. I tried both ways when I was young and couldn't translate theory to the fretboard from the leftie point of view and found it amazingly hard to follow others. When right handed I could chug along and at least pick up the 1.
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Re: Teaching a Leftie (or not)

Postby ef37a » Sun Apr 07, 2019 1:34 pm

Not sure Watchmaker whether you fret with left or right hand?

I wonder if there are any "musical, ergo shrinks" in the readership?

Writing is not a "natural" skill but is so ingrained in every culture that it might as well be and I certainly would not agree with forcing a natural lefty to used the right hand. Such an activity causes no one any harm (but don't get stuck left of one at school!) and the "tools" are ambidextrous. Mind you, tricky not to make a mess with real ink!

But playing a musical instrument is far from natural. I was a fair rhythm guitarist in my late teens and 20s but "'kin' Life" intervened and I lost any skill I had. I can still play bass a bit but six stringers are painful and next to impossible now (yes, I know! If I buckled down I could get some of it back. Bought a cheap "Spanish" nylon strung just to do that. One day) .

What I am trying to say is, starting guitar IS hard so you might as well do it by the book and have access to 99% of all the instruments ever made.

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Re: Teaching a Leftie (or not)

Postby shufflebeat » Mon Apr 08, 2019 2:47 am

I am a southpaw with some unconventional technical habits that we won't go into here but suffice it to say I've considered these issues in some depth and discussed them with experts and idiots alike.

I've known a few people who are otherwise left handed but play guitar right handed. It may be coincidence but they all played with an awkward strumming hand, from the elbow rather than the wrist. When asked, Paul McCartney apparently said the natural rhythm is in your strong hand and that should be encouraged.

There is one issue that hasn't been discussed. It sounds like you've given her a right handed guitar. Is she, by any chance, reacting to the order of the strings, with the low E closest to the ground - a logical arrangement for a novice to get their heads round. If that is the case I would suggest getting your hands on a leftie guitar and see if she still wants to try it that way round.

As far as, "most people just get on with playing right handed instruments" goes, that is part of the, "there are no left handed trumpets" thread which turned out to be mistaken.

When I am President everyone will be issued with a left handed scythe and we'll see how quick folks learn to adapt.
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Re: Teaching a Leftie (or not)

Postby ore_terra » Mon Apr 08, 2019 9:09 am

until I don't see a left handed piano I won't believe that there's any sense in building left handed guitars.

in response to whoever said hendrix just flipped a right handed guitar and used it like that, if you do that without hendrix's incredibly long arms believe me you're f**d :lol:

he could do it because his arms where long enough to have his forearm almost lined with the neck, avoiding the knobs area. that doesn't happen with normal human beings arms, unfortunately.
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Re: Teaching a Leftie (or not)

Postby Eddy Deegan » Mon Apr 08, 2019 10:03 am

ore_terra wrote:until I don't see a left handed piano I won't believe that there's any sense in building left handed guitars.

Obligatory: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lgk1gOp4vF4 :)
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Re: Teaching a Leftie (or not)

Postby ore_terra » Mon Apr 08, 2019 10:11 am

that could be an (impressive) single handed pianist in any case :lol: but he's not playing a "left handed" instrument.

another one worth to se is what Fat Domino could play with his left hand. also awesome.
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Re: Teaching a Leftie (or not)

Postby ef37a » Mon Apr 08, 2019 11:09 am

I just put a search in for Classical guitar..ISTs. Not one hit.

A guitar company answered the question "are there any left handed classical guitars?"

"No" was the response because they said such guitars are "hybrid" but I think they meant "symetrical"? They said all you need do (if'n yu HAFt!) is change the string order.

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Re: Teaching a Leftie (or not)

Postby Wonks » Mon Apr 08, 2019 11:31 am

You'd really need a new nut, but as classical guitars have a non-angled bridge, then that is the only thing you'd have to do - and that's really easy.

The only exceptions would be electro-classicals, with a pre-amp fitted on the top bout.
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