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View Full Version : I need help from left-handed players who play right-handed



Uncle Rod Higuchi
10-19-2016, 05:37 AM
Aloha! UU Ohana :)

i have a student (left-handed) who is endeavoring to learn to play the uke right-handed.

If you, as a left-handed person, have learned to play the uke right-handedly...
how is it going for you? Any unique obstacles or helpful
suggestions for me and my student?

Do you wish you had restrung your uke, or simply flipped it over and
played it left-handed to begin with?

Do you experience any difficulty decoding the chord diagrams? (esp for left-handed players playing left-handedly) [i know you're reading this thread. couldn't help yourself, correct? :)]

Anyway, any and all comments and suggestions (constructive, of course) are invited and appreciated.

keep uke'in', Everyone!

frigiliana
10-19-2016, 06:33 AM
I'm left handed but learnt to play the guitar right handed as my teacher said if you've never played before it will be just as hard to learn left handed as it would be right handed , i always found the strumming difficult (with a plectrum) as my right hand being weaker but found the chord shapes no problem , now i've started learning the ukulele and strum with my index finger i'm finding it relatively easy .
I would say to your student what might be percieved as a disadvantage is in fact an advantage and go for it .

NatalieS
10-19-2016, 06:51 AM
I am left-handed but have always played uke (for 10 years) and guitar (on and off) left-handed. I found that it wasn't really a big deal playing the "wrong" way. Learning a new instrument always feels awkward initially, and I can definitely remember taking a while to fine-tune the strumming and plucking movements of my right fingers. I would just advise to your student to stick with it and practice consistently, and it will soon start to feel natural.

jddennis
10-19-2016, 07:03 AM
I'm a southpaw who learned how to play guitar and ukulele in the standard configuration. It was a matter of being slow, more than anything. Learning is incremental. So, whatever I did, I'd have to start slow and work up to speed. I feel like it was actually advantageous to learn standard. My left hand is much more dexterous (pun intended). I'm not a coordinated person in general, but my left hand is far better than my right hand. So strumming did take a little extra work, but far less work than trying to learn to work a fret board with my right hand. Honestly having them learn standard is the best way to do it.

Bob-in-Alberta
10-19-2016, 07:04 AM
I'm left handed and play right handed. Since both hands are needed to play, I'd don't feel that there is any real difference in the difficulty of learning to play. Also, being left handed, I've spent my whole life learning to adapt in a right handed world. Using scissors and driving a manual transmission car are just two examples. And, being Canadian, there is also the game of curling. My out turn is everyone else's in turn and my in turn is their out turn.

Uncle Rod Higuchi
10-19-2016, 07:05 AM
Thanks for the input and advice.

more, please :)

Brad Bordessa
10-19-2016, 08:02 AM
Somebody said to me the other day at an 'ukulele retreat I taught at (on the subject of me being lefty, but playing right) something along the lines of: "You know you'd never have had these teaching opportunities if you played backwards." Not only would it be impossible for me to teach righty beginners if I played lefty, but it would be much harder to learn seeing as there is very little material for the beginning lefty player.

Absolutely no regrets and I tell everyone who is even a little on the fence to learn right handed. Leave the left hand for eating and writing.

Booli
10-19-2016, 08:05 AM
I'm a "righty", and sorry that I can't help...

...but I just wanted to give KUDOS to you Uncle Rod for taking it to the streets and to your peeps here on UU (the best uke forum online) to get help for your STUDENT, from lots of folks who are (usually) filled with Aloha.

Mahalo to YOU! :)

Pueo
10-19-2016, 09:27 AM
I learned to play guitar when I was in 4th grade.
I am right-handed, and I remember thinking, "Hey, why is my LEFT hand trying to do all this hard work and my right hand just strums?"
So I thought I had discovered something AMAZING and immediately tried to play lefty because I was now going to be amazingly dexterous fingering chords with my right hand.
I could not keep a steady rhythm with my left hand to save my life! So I get the struggle. I say either have them play righty if they can or play lefty, but still strung right-handed. Whatever is most comfortable for the player.
I know quite a few talented left-handed players. Most of them tell me they prefer to play a right-handed instrument lefty (upside-down) so that they can just grab anyone's at a gig. Jack Ofoia and Kupu`ehu Dalire-Na`auao (Sean's son) are examples of that.

lfoo6952
10-19-2016, 10:09 AM
I am left-handed but have played guitar and ukulele right-handed. In the beginning, the right hand strumming is more difficult but on the other hand, the left hand will find it easier to form chords.

Another advantage playing right-handed is your instrument choices are much more. Most stores do not carry left-handed instruments.

Pukulele Pete
10-19-2016, 01:55 PM
I'm a lefty who plays guitar and uke in the standard position. I don't understand why people think they have to play non standard . The left hand does all the difficult stuff , the right hand
just strums or picks strings . Should a lefty play piano upside down? As far as I know there is only one left handed piano . Are there left handed Tubas , saxophones, flutes. ?
I think playing in the standard position is geared more toward Leftys anyway because the left hand does all the work.
This subject was discussed a few years ago right here and it turned into great reading because there were so many opposite views and alot of pissed off people. Great reading.
Let the games begin ,.........

zztush
10-19-2016, 05:30 PM
1) how is it going for you? Any unique obstacles or helpful suggestions for me and my student?
No problems.

2) Do you wish you had restrung your uke, or simply flipped it over and played it left-handed to begin with?
No.

3) Anyway, any and all comments and suggestions (constructive, of course) are invited and appreciated.
I don't want to see right handed Jimi Hendrix but I have no problem with right handed uku.

buganeal
10-19-2016, 06:56 PM
Aloha! UU Ohana :)


1) If you, as a left-handed person, have learned to play the uke right-handedly...
how is it going for you? Any unique obstacles or helpful
suggestions for me and my student?

2) Do you wish you had restrung your uke, or simply flipped it over and
played it left-handed to begin with?

3) Do you experience any difficulty decoding the chord diagrams?



Hi! Im a lefty but play instruments the standard way. For me,

1) Most instruments require some form of limb independence. So right or left handed, we all start from zero. It was the mind set that held me back in the beginning.

2) Nope.

3) None at all

anthonyg
10-19-2016, 07:24 PM
As a lefty I could never figure out why its supposed to be normal for Right handed people to Fret with their left hands? I think the advantage is in the leftys' court so why a lefty would want to switch over seems bonkers to me.

I'm a lefty who plays standard. I always have. The problem is switching.

Anthony

UkePyrate
10-20-2016, 01:52 AM
When i started learning with "righty" uke, i felt like i was forcing myself against my internal clock when trying to strum with my "lesser" hand...
i'm lefty playing left handed (right hand - fretting chords, left hand - picking/strumming).
I have reversed the strings compared to "normal" uke to behave the same like normal uke player do - G being closest to my heart, A to the ground...

When starting, I found it much easier to learn from right handed teacher (video or live) - because i just mimicked teacher's hands, and didn't need to transform anything in my head from his "right hand being on the left in flipped form".

Printed chord diagrams - I agree that the way they are printed, is more suited to normal uke setup.
However, as i didn't know the chord diagrams before either way - that extra effort that took me two/three days to get used to, were not much of a hassle.

IMHO the hard stuff is not the (chord) fretting - once you learn the stuff in the beginning.
I believe harder stuff is done with the strumming hand - rhythm, picking patterns, tapping, etc... - lot more variations that i need to do/change in the beats, compared to those 10-20 finger positions that usually stay same all over the length of a fretboard). When talking chord changes - in most songs you usually do no more than 1 to 2 changes of chords per beat if at all (depending on song). Strumming - way more up&downs and/or timing issues in single beat.

I agree with the greatest (the only in my current opinion) disadvantage of "lefty lefty" approach - i cannot just pick any ukulele/guitar i want, and shopping selection is much much worse.
Luckily, majority of ukes are symmetrical, so the string swap is no problem.
At the same time, ukulele is small, and i can take mine basically anywhere (left handed piano would indeed case more trouble :p ).

photoshooter
10-20-2016, 03:46 AM
Lefty here. As with some of the previous posts, I took guitar lessons in elementary school. The teacher never asked me if I was a lefty, he just showed me what I was "supposed" to do. No big deal. As others have noted, being a lefty means that I was doing the fretting with my strong hand. I find that to be an advantage.

Pirate Jim
10-20-2016, 04:13 AM
When i started learning with "righty" uke, i felt like i was forcing myself against my internal clock when trying to strum with my "lesser" hand...
i'm lefty playing left handed (right hand - fretting chords, left hand - picking/strumming).
I have reversed the strings compared to "normal" uke to behave the same like normal uke player do - G being closest to my heart, A to the ground...

When starting, I found it much easier to learn from right handed teacher (video or live) - because i just mimicked teacher's hands, and didn't need to transform anything in my head from his "right hand being on the left in flipped form".

Printed chord diagrams - I agree that the way they are printed, is more suited to normal uke setup.
However, as i didn't know the chord diagrams before either way - that extra effort that took me two/three days to get used to, were not much of a hassle.

IMHO the hard stuff is not the (chord) fretting - once you learn the stuff in the beginning.
I believe harder stuff is done with the strumming hand - rhythm, picking patterns, tapping, etc... - lot more variations that i need to do/change in the beats, compared to those 10-20 finger positions that usually stay same all over the length of a fretboard). When talking chord changes - in most songs you usually do no more than 1 to 2 changes of chords per beat if at all (depending on song). Strumming - way more up&downs and/or timing issues in single beat.

I agree with the greatest (the only in my current opinion) disadvantage of "lefty lefty" approach - i cannot just pick any ukulele/guitar i want, and shopping selection is much much worse.
Luckily, majority of ukes are symmetrical, so the string swap is no problem.
At the same time, ukulele is small, and i can take mine basically anywhere (left handed piano would indeed case more trouble :p ).


Nice to hear someone with similar experiences to me! It's so much easier to learn or to teach someone if you're set up as a mirror image of them - they/you can literally copy exactly what's in from of them. Learning to play a bit upside down to try things in a music shop is the only downside I've ever had but you get a lot of appreciative looks when you do it! There's also a lot more acceptance of left handedness in instrument makers now (certainly more so than I'm reading from some fellow lefties on this board) so plenty of choice.

Uncle Rod Higuchi
10-20-2016, 04:26 AM
Mahalo Nui Loa! for all the wonderful comments and suggestions!

I have copied many of them to share with my student (tonight), and hopefully, your
positive comments will be encouraging and inspiring toward her ongoing efforts!

Thanks, again!

keep 'em coming :)

alanjang
10-20-2016, 05:18 AM
Aloha Uncle Rod,
I'm also left-handed but play the uke right-handed. The reason why is because when I first picked it up, that's just how I started playing. I feel like it wasn't a choice I made, but I was doing what felt natural to me. I think that's the key to the whole thing, if something seems forced or unnatural, then maybe try an alternative. Please remind your student that there's a big difference between something feeling new and un-practiced and feeling unnatural. One gets worked out through practice, repetition, etc and one never really goes away. Also, to me (I understand others who may feel differently) both hands do equally important and "difficult" jobs. To me, strumming or picking and maintaining rhythm is just as "difficult" as forming chords. To me left or right-handed dominance doesn't apply to playing the uke. (Again, that may be unique to my journey). Thanks for asking.

jimavery
10-20-2016, 10:08 PM
To pick up your specific question on chord diagrams, yes there is some mental effort involved in using right-handed chord diagrams for a left-handed uke, but it soon comes second-nature. Once I've learned a chord, I'm not reading the dot positions, I'm just seeing the shape (just like reading text really).

Given that it's so easy to switch most ukuleles to left-handed tuning it does depress me how many people, even left-handed people, are so vociferous in promoting right-handed play as the only option. I don't doubt that many left-handed people play perfectly well the other way around, but for me the deal breaker is my right hand really wouldn't ever be as good at the subtleties of strumming. Yes some chords can be complicated, but unless you get in to some really fancy techniques there's nothing particularly subtle about forming a chord shape on a fretboard.

anthonyg
10-21-2016, 02:05 AM
Playing ukuleles or guitars is an ambidextrous pursuit. As a lefty I just started playing right handed and never looked back. To be honest I don't understand why fretting with the left hand is considered right handed.

Both my fretting and picking can be complicated. Starting out is hard. I suspect that some lefty's psych themselves out when starting and figure they have to flip the instrument over just because.

As a lefty I couldn't play a left strung instrument any better than a Righty.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZlOy4-XVklY

Anthony

Pirate Jim
10-21-2016, 04:04 AM
To pick up your specific question on chord diagrams, yes there is some mental effort involved in using right-handed chord diagrams for a left-handed uke, but it soon comes second-nature. Once I've learned a chord, I'm not reading the dot positions, I'm just seeing the shape (just like reading text really).

If you've never come across a chord diagram before, i.e. you're a beginner, you won't know which way up it goes regardless so you'll just learn what it means the same as any other beginner, lefty or righty.

Agree on how great it is that most ukes are symmetrically constructed so can be converted to lefty with minimal effort. I have never and will never understand why people are so prescriptive about how to play an instrument. It's music - make it how you like and enjoy yourself!

pulelehua
10-21-2016, 11:28 PM
The thing I've found most difficult is advanced strumming. The fan strum is just a beast for me. That being said, being left-handed, I have good finger strength for hammer-ons and pull-offs, so while I struggle to master special technique X, special technique Y is maybe a bit easier for me.

I've been playing guitar "backwards" for 26 years, and ukulele for 8. Do I wish I had started the other way all those years ago? I don't know. Maybe.

One thing was clear, being a lefty who played guitar righty, it only made sense to maintain my backwardness with the ukulele.