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

  1. #11
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    I actually have 3 left handed students (very odd ratio, considering how few students I have) and I let them try each side for a while to see what they were most comfortable with (I have a Tahitian uke with all strings the same diameter that I can switch righty to lefty and back quickly. Of the 3, 2 chose to have me file the nut and re-string their ukes. I began instruction with the chords in their book re-drawn by me to left-handed versions and they're both doing great. They also have adapted and automatically re-draw chords when they see them printed. The third lefty struggled for a while, but was doing fine until he discovered guitar and switched. I would not teach anyone to play upside down.

    I can see the merits of teaching right handed for easier instrument switching, but I think it should be up to the student (and their parents if the student is young). It's so easy to file and restring, after all, unlike a guitar.

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  2. #12

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    Anthroterra - This is great advice! Two questions... (1) Which book are you using? (Just curious!) (2) What kind of file are you using to make that nut slot a little bigger? I've never done it before & I'm scared to death of ruining someone else's uke. Do you typically have to make any other adjustments besides filing that one slot?

  3. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by _Silly_Me_Sitting_Here_ View Post
    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?

    Thanks for any input!
    I would never in a million years teach someone upside down chords. It would be a disaster years down the road if he ever wanted to move to guitar or another string instrument. If can learn to play right handed he will be better off. If not, re-string and have him play normal shape chords left handed. As Dave noted, you are only talking about the C and E nut slots, and you can probably get away jus widening the E slot with folded sandpaper to fit a C string.

    John

  4. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by gochugogi View Post
    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!
    I'm also a lefty who plays righty.

    Ukuleles/guitars are an ambidextrous instrument and I'm quite happy to have my most dextrous hand doing the fretting. As a rank beginner when your only holding one chord down and trying to strum evenly then it seems better to have your strongest hand strumming yet this phase passes quite quickly. I'm quite a strong finger picker so its not like my weaker hand didn't learn to be better at picking than most right handed people.

    Playing a ukulele is an ambidextrous pursuit. Left handed / right handed at the start is red herring.

    Is the left handed child younger than the right handed child?

    I gave ukuleles to my nieces and of course the older child progressed faster at first yet now its the younger child who kept on with playing ukulele/guitar and the older child moved on to singing and piano.
    In the case of brothers I would be even more inclined to teach them both right handed (sic) and just help and persevere with the one who is a little slower to begin with.

  5. #15
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    By-the-way, Barry Maz includes Left-handed chords and Bari chords in his book "Chords that Ukulele Players Really Want to Know". Cheap and an easy reference.
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  6. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by Anthroterra View Post
    I actually have 3 left handed students (very odd ratio, considering how few students I have) and I let them try each side for a while to see what they were most comfortable with (I have a Tahitian uke with all strings the same diameter that I can switch righty to lefty and back quickly. Of the 3, 2 chose to have me file the nut and re-string their ukes. I began instruction with the chords in their book re-drawn by me to left-handed versions and they're both doing great. They also have adapted and automatically re-draw chords when they see them printed. The third lefty struggled for a while, but was doing fine until he discovered guitar and switched. I would not teach anyone to play upside down.

    I can see the merits of teaching right handed for easier instrument switching, but I think it should be up to the student (and their parents if the student is young). It's so easy to file and restring, after all, unlike a guitar.
    I'll agree with this 100%. I am a lefty player, and while I hate walking into a music store and there being only 3-4 lefty guitars (usually very cheap guitars) and typically there are no ukes setup lefty, it still just feels "right" to play lefty. (See what I did there? ) So my suggestion is to let them try both and see what they decide. If a lefty likes the way that a righty uke feels then that's great and it opens up a world of options! However, I wouldn't force them into one or the other. Again, it didn't work for me.

    Also, I wouldn't have them form chords upside down. I'm not saying that it wouldn't work, but it's a very different sound than what I am typically looking for in a uke or a guitar.

  7. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikhou View Post
    Also, I wouldn't have them form chords upside down. I'm not saying that it wouldn't work, but it's a very different sound than what I am typically looking for in a uke or a guitar.
    For what it’s worth, Alex from Southern Ukulele Store and Chris Kamaka both seem to play just fine upside down.

    https://youtu.be/dLKE1G1IKG8

    https://youtu.be/j3SM-3fP9t0

  8. #18
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    Ukuleles and guitars are ambidextrous instruments. As a lefty I just don't understand why the picking hand is considered the leading hand or why we even have left or right handed ukuleles and guitars.

    As a lefty I'm REALLY happy to have my stronger hand doing the fretting and my view is the "right handed" players are missing out due to a freak chance decision many centuries ago.
    Lets say that history was changed and we ALL played guitars and ukuleles the other way around.
    There would STILL be some left handed people that just believed that they needed to play it the other way and what we now call right handed would be considered left handed and lefties would be playing the same as modern righties..

    Forget left and right. Its a manufactured figment of someones imagination. Its an ambidextrous instrument and if your struggling at first then this is NORMAL and has nothing to do with it being a Left or Right handed instrument.
    Last edited by anthonyg; 06-16-2019 at 08:43 PM.

  9. #19
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    OK.
    First of all, I did not read every post, so apologies if this has already been addressed, but I want to add my experiences.

    I am right handed.
    When learning guitar over 40 years ago I was wondering, as a kid, why am I doing such complicated things (fretting chords etc) with my weaker hand?
    I tried playing lefty, and quickly realized that it is very difficult to keep a steady rhythm with my left hand.
    So that finally made sense.
    Now as far as getting a left-handed ukulele or guitar or re-string it for lefty - to this I say a resounding NO.
    Because if a left handed person learns to play "upside down" then they will not need a special instrument to jam.
    I see kanikapila (jam sessions) where a couple of Lefty's I know can just grab an instrument and play.
    They won't be left out (pun fully intended) if they leave their instrument at home.

    Just let him play however it feels natural.
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  10. #20
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    I think I'd let the student decide, by that I mean let them try playing each way - they will likely learn quicker & stay with it if they are comfortable.

    You don't necessarily need to file the nut or alter the saddle, especially on a cheaper uke, as most use a standard size slot at the nut & don't compensate the saddle.
    Trying to do justice to various musical instruments.

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