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Thread: Leftie Child: Teach Right-Handed or Flip the Uke & Play Upside Down?

  1. #1

    Default Leftie Child: Teach Right-Handed or Flip the Uke & Play Upside Down?

    So, a young boy I'm teaching is a leftie with a rightie uke. The boy's brother is right-handed & I'm teaching them both at the same time. I'm putting stickers on their ukes to help them find the "starter chords" like C, F, G7 and G. (Obviously, we start with one chord & build from there.) Right now we're on C chord, and I can already see the leftie struggling to play right-handed.

    How weird would it be if I simply told him to flip his ukulele & play everything upside down? Could this pose problems in the future? And, would it sound strange playing the strings in reverse?

    Thanks for any input!
    Last edited by _Silly_Me_Sitting_Here_; 06-16-2019 at 09:35 AM.

  2. #2
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    I might be missing something but wouldn't you just re-string the uke so the strings were in the same order when the leftie held it?

    That way everything (chord shapes etc..) would be the same.
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  3. #3
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    Unless it has a pick guard or is a cutout, the only thing that makes a uke right or left handed is the way that it's strung. Restring it and you're ready to go with no teaching/learning adjustment necessary.
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  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by mikelz777 View Post
    Unless it has a pick guard or is a cutout, the only thing that makes a uke right or left handed is the way that it's strung. Restring it and you're ready to go with no teaching/learning adjustment necessary.

    I would certainly re-string the uke if that's all it took... But, isn't it true that I would have to make adjustments to the saddle & nut as well? I can change strings all day long, but I don't trust myself to do anything more than that...

  5. #5
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    Contact the guy from Southern Ukulele Store. He plays left handed and upside down! I don’t know how difficult it is to make chords upside down or barre chords etc.

    Honestly, all things being equal, I might encourage him to play it the standard way so that he can play any instrument, compared to just his lefty version. His left hand being dominant may help with chord shapes. Maybe some people with a guitar background ave some opinions.

  6. #6

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    I'll second the notion that being left-handed may help with shaping chords. As a left-hander playing righty, and with no preconceptions or musical background, it just seemed to make sense to me to use my dominant hand to shape the chords. I think this is especially true for beginners. However, as a player develops, both hands become involved in intricate maneuvers (whether forming tough chords with the left hand or using complex strum patterns or picking with the right). And perhaps that's where the dominant hand becomes more useful when it's not the fretting hand. The struggles experienced by the young boy may just be a hump he has to get over. Playing instruments isn't something that comes naturally to everyone; it certainly hasn't for me. That said, struggles early on may be enough to turn him off from stringed instruments forever, which would be a shame. I'm just a little skeptical, though, that accommodating his left-handedness is the solution to overcoming his struggles. Best of luck, and I hope he gets over the hump before he gets too frustrated.
    Mike

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    Quote Originally Posted by _Silly_Me_Sitting_Here_ View Post
    I would certainly re-string the uke if that's all it took... But, isn't it true that I would have to make adjustments to the saddle & nut as well? I can change strings all day long, but I don't trust myself to do anything more than that...
    I'm going to go out on a limb here and I'm sure there's someone out there who won't hesitate to tell me that I'm wrong because I may be. I suppose that yes, if you know that a uke is going to be solely played by a left handed player that the action should be set up with that in mind. Since that doesn't seem to be a possibility here, why not just try re-stringing it? My guess is that the difference in necessary(?) adjustment would be negligible if noticeable at all. I suppose you could reverse the saddle as well if it is not glued in. I think that you would be doing a lot more harm trying to teach the child to play upside down or right handed.
    Last edited by mikelz777; 06-16-2019 at 05:15 AM.
    Ohana CK-42R - all-solid concert, sinker redwood top, rosewood body, maple binding, Ltd. Edition
    Kala KA-FMCG- solid/lam concert, spruce top, spalted flame maple body, mahogany binding
    Ohana CK-120G - all-solid concert, 5A acacia top sides and back, mahogany binding, Limited Edition
    Ohana SK-30M - all-solid mahogany long neck soprano (concert scale)
    Romero ST - solid/lam concert, spruce top, mahogany body

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jerome collector View Post
    I'll second the notion that being left-handed may help with shaping chords. As a left-hander playing righty, and with no preconceptions or musical background, it just seemed to make sense to me to use my dominant hand to shape the chords.......
    It always seemed to me that since the LH has the more intricate job it may help in chord formation. It may depend on the person, but for example if you look at orchestral string players, there is not such thing as playing left handed. All players play the same way.

  9. #9
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    I'm left-handed but learned to play guitar and violin at 10 years old right-handed and always felt it was an advantage since I had my most dexterous hand on the fingerboard. And fingerboard technique is by far the most demanding in terms of technique. I found the strumming and picking hand relatively easy compared to the fretting hand. Many years later I'm glad I choose to play right-handed as I can try and buy all the instruments I please!

    The other advantage is I can grow long nails on my picking hand but use my more dexterous left hand to grab things without worrying about my nails getting damaged.
    Last edited by gochugogi; 06-16-2019 at 08:23 AM.

  10. #10
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    The big difference for leftys is the C string (and Low-G) width in the nut slot(s). The location of the widest string(s) with the widest slot(s) location(s). Also, if the saddle is compensated.

    In her autobiography, "Cold Pizza for Breakfast," folksinger Christine Lavin said that early on she was given advice about playing guitar left-handed. That some day you may have to borrow a guitar to play. The odds are much better of finding a right-handed one than a lefty. So, she learned to play right-handed.

    I'm ambidextrous so it was no big deal for me to learn to play right-handed uke.

    Teaching left-handed kids can get confusing for both them and the instructor. And chords and tabs in music is almost always written for right-handed playing.

    The dominate hand is usually the rhythm one. From what I've read, it seems the brain is wired so that the dominate side, (left side of the brain for right-handed people), keeps rhythm naturally and more easily. So strumming and picking is easier to learn using the dominate hand.

    However, I think it's better and easier if a left-handed person can learn to play right-handed. There are some people who absolutely cannot change over. Even if they break their left arm.
    Last edited by Kenn2018; 06-16-2019 at 05:07 PM.
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