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

  1. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pirate Jim View Post
    Wrong question - the question is "does it hinder"? Happily, no! Hendrix managed just fine restringing a righty, as did Kobain at times, no reason others shouldn't follow suit
    I was going to mention the same thing. Someone on a Hendrix documentary I saw said he was blown away when Jimi picked up a right-handed guitar and played it about as good as he played his own. When the guy asked him about it Jimi said something like, "the same notes are all still in there".

  2. #32
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    As a lefty who plays left-handed strung ukes, I often ponder if I should have learned to play a right-handed Uke (either truly right-handed or upside-down). The conclusions I have drawn having also read lots of opinions are...

    Personally I think the most subtle control is needed in the strumming hand. I'm strongly left-handed so strumming with my right is out of the question - everyone has different degrees of left-handedness though.

    Restringing an ordinary acoustic Uke left-handed is usually no problem.

    Almost all electro-acoustic ukes are no good for playing left-handed, because the controls end up on the wrong side of the Uke.

    Using left-handed chord diagrams is simply bonkers, as almost all Ukulele sheet music, books etc, are printed with right-handed chord diagrams. It takes a little effort at first, but using righty chord diagrams really isn't that difficult.

    For me, I think I've made the right choice, but it's a close thing. I can see clear advantages in learning to play a right-handed uke upside-down (and I have learned a few chords upside-down just so I can try out other ukes without restringing them), but that doesn't solve the difficulties finding a suitable electro-acoustic uke. I solve that by using a passive undersaddle pickup with an endpin jack and external preamp.

  3. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by _Silly_Me_Sitting_Here_ View Post
    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?
    1. I start them in Lil Rev's from Hal Leonard, then transition to sheet music they enjoy rather than continuing in another method book (playing a lot of Imagine Dragons and Billie Eilish with the younger ones lol). One of my lefties uses a Disney for ukulele book as her book lol. I tried Alfred's but didn't like how it taught A string down rather than notes starting on the C string like Lil Rev's. Seemed more logical to me to start on the lowest note.
    2. I use the fret files from Stew Mac: http://www.stewmac.com/Luthier_Tools...r_Ukulele.html I also use them to lower the action, since many lower-end ukes have pretty high action and are uncomfortable for new players. Super easy to use, but yes I was nervous on that first one! No other modifications other than filing for the C slot and flipping all the strings.

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  4. #34
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    My most uncomfortable moment on Ukulele Underground was when I posted about my own changes in teaching, allowing left-handed players to play left-handed. It was a shocking moment of anger and negativity on UU that I seldom see--so I can acknowledge the feelings that are involved.

    In classical music, we don't make left-handed instruments available for students, period. There might be special cases, but I know that schools are not providing for them.

    It is pretty clear that 99% of all ukuleles are set-up right handed. It's pretty clear that 99.5% of the playing charts are right handed. 99.9% of instructional videos are right handed.

    So when I started teaching ukulele, with the intent of giving students a skill they could use the rest of their lives, I felt it was in their best interest to teach them how to play right handed. It seemed to be a benefit to them that their dominant hand would be fretting. It was all with good intent.

    Two years later, I was teaching a class to my fellow teachers, and one of my colleagues, an art teacher (fellow arts teacher) was missing the tip of her right index finger (accident), so she had taught herself to be left handed. I saw that, and something snapped, and I immediately restrung a ukulele for her, and then started giving my left handed students (and their parents) an option to choose. I also had a few right handed students who tried to play lefty (not very successfully).

    Then I came across this video of Autumn Best, and it changed my instruction forever:



    So now, I give students and their parents three choices:

    1) Learn righty
    2) Learn lefty
    3) Play lefty on righty

    What's funny is that on the ukulele education forums I'm involved with, I've been yelled at for allowing students to choose (the overall mentality is: play right handed). So I can't win!

    It's ukulele. Do what works for you...or for your student.

    P.S. Most ukuleles can flip strings to lefty without any modification whatsoever; some companies (like Outdoor Ukulele) will ship left-handed if requested, and I tried to have about 10% of our ukuleles be left-handed (fits the population spread pretty accurately).
    Last edited by Choirguy; 06-19-2019 at 05:23 PM.
    My ukulele blog: http://ukestuff.info

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  5. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by ukantor View Post
    Don't introduce this left-handed child to the piano. The poor wee mite would be at such a disadvantage.

    John Colter.
    Haha...WRONG. I am left handed, and as a result, I can play all kinds of bass figures a lot easier on the piano. Working with two handed stride or boogie woogie material is just a real blast.

  6. #36
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    In fact, Ravel wrote a piano concerto for the left hand:


  7. #37
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    That was written especially for a concert pianist who had lost his right hand.

    John Colter.

  8. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by Choirguy View Post
    My most uncomfortable moment on Ukulele Underground was when I posted about my own changes in teaching, allowing left-handed players to play left-handed. It was a shocking moment of anger and negativity on UU that I seldom see--so I can acknowledge the feelings that are involved.

    In classical music, we don't make left-handed instruments available for students, period. There might be special cases, but I know that schools are not providing for them.

    It is pretty clear that 99% of all ukuleles are set-up right handed. It's pretty clear that 99.5% of the playing charts are right handed. 99.9% of instructional videos are right handed.

    So when I started teaching ukulele, with the intent of giving students a skill they could use the rest of their lives, I felt it was in their best interest to teach them how to play right handed. It seemed to be a benefit to them that their dominant hand would be fretting. It was all with good intent.

    Two years later, I was teaching a class to my fellow teachers, and one of my colleagues, an art teacher (fellow arts teacher) was missing the tip of her right index finger (accident), so she had taught herself to be left handed. I saw that, and something snapped, and I immediately restrung a ukulele for her, and then started giving my left handed students (and their parents) an option to choose. I also had a few right handed students who tried to play lefty (not very successfully).

    Then I came across this video of Autumn Best, and it changed my instruction forever:



    So now, I give students and their parents three choices:

    1) Learn righty
    2) Learn lefty
    3) Play lefty on righty

    What's funny is that on the ukulele education forums I'm involved with, I've been yelled at for allowing students to choose (the overall mentality is: play right handed). So I can't win!

    It's ukulele. Do what works for you...or for your student.

    P.S. Most ukuleles can flip strings to lefty without any modification whatsoever; some companies (like Outdoor Ukulele) will ship left-handed if requested, and I tried to have about 10% of our ukuleles be left-handed (fits the population spread pretty accurately).
    Great video. Very touching.

    At the Boys and Girls Club I was helping to teach ukulele to 8 to 10 years old kids. Three were left-handed. All three were quite upset that they "had" to learn to play right-handed. (An ex-music teacher was leading the group and insisted that all of the kids learn to play right handed. She's a righty.)

    So, I bought a left-handed ukulele and donated it.

    Then, at the class, I gave the lefties the option of learning to play right or left handed. I explained why I thought it would be easier for them in the long run and why. I then asked them to try it for a while, but if they just couldn't do it, then they could use the left-handed uke.

    All three stuck with the right-handed ukes and did quite well.

    Giving the kids the choice made all the difference. They bought into the honest explanations. And tried their best, along with lots of encouragement, to prove that they could do it. Instead of resisting something that was forced upon them, they tried and felt really proud when they succeeded.
    There is a subtle yet profound difference between the learning of something and the knowing of that thing.
    You can learn by reading, but you don’t begin to know until you begin to try to do.

    —Lou Churchill, Plane & Pilot Magazine

  9. #39

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    Quote Originally Posted by jimavery View Post
    As a lefty who plays left-handed strung ukes, I often ponder if I should have learned to play a right-handed Uke (either truly right-handed or upside-down). The conclusions I have drawn having also read lots of opinions are...

    Personally I think the most subtle control is needed in the strumming hand. I'm strongly left-handed so strumming with my right is out of the question - everyone has different degrees of left-handedness though.

    Restringing an ordinary acoustic Uke left-handed is usually no problem.

    Almost all electro-acoustic ukes are no good for playing left-handed, because the controls end up on the wrong side of the Uke.

    Using left-handed chord diagrams is simply bonkers, as almost all Ukulele sheet music, books etc, are printed with right-handed chord diagrams. It takes a little effort at first, but using righty chord diagrams really isn't that difficult.

    For me, I think I've made the right choice, but it's a close thing. I can see clear advantages in learning to play a right-handed uke upside-down (and I have learned a few chords upside-down just so I can try out other ukes without restringing them), but that doesn't solve the difficulties finding a suitable electro-acoustic uke. I solve that by using a passive undersaddle pickup with an endpin jack and external preamp.
    As a lefty playing lefty, I couldn't agree with this more My thoughts exactly!

  10. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kenn2018 View Post
    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.
    I have one student who plays a left handed guitar, but he was already playing before he came to take lessons from me, so we didn't switch back. He says it's just like looking in the mirror, but we seldom have left handed instruments in the store where I teach. Whenever there is a left handed guitar, I urge him to try it out.

    You said, "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. " I agree with this. Try tapping out the rhythm of I've Been Working On The RR with your dominant hand and keeping the beat with your non-dominant hand. Now try switching hands.
    In spite of that, I had four siblings all living in a house with one guitar. My brother Dave was a lefty, but we wouldn't let him switch the guitar, so he learned righy. He turned out to be the best musician of the five of us.

    Nice to hear Christine Lavin mentioned here. Maggie and I are fans of her song writing and performing. I even love her baton twirling. In the eighties we performed her song about Princess Diana and Prince Charles at a few venues in Southern Ontario.

    Oh maybe, you got panicky
    Thinking you were losing your looks
    Well confidentially Chuck
    You got no looks to lose
    Or maybe you are the kind of cad
    Who likes to drive us women mad
    Knowing now we all have the
    I'm-never-gonna-get-to-be-the-future-Queen-of-England-blues

    Charles! Prince Charles
    Do you have a last name?
    I was gonna ask you that on our first date
    Forget it! Things have changed


    Once they got married, she could no longer do this song. Here's Maggie singing the song at Cobourg's Waterfront Festival.
    maggie & me WFF.jpg

    And here she is with Christine Lavin at the Winnipeg Folk Festival about 30 years ago.
    christine & maggie.jpg

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