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Should A Left Handed Kid Need To Learm To Play The Guitar Left Handed?
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This is a question many parents may ask, when they discover their kid is left-handed: Should they encourage their beloved kid to perform actions -writing, for example- with the other hand?

It is widely acceptable that forcing left-handed kids to write with their right hand is improper. Moreover, it may cause disorders to their personality.

However, learning a music instrument such as the guitar, that requires different skills on both hands, requires a different approach. The first step to get an anser is a simple test: Just ask the kid to hold a guitar in his/her hands the way it feels comfortable.

If he/she holds the neck with the right hand, then he/she is left-handed. Living in a right-handed world, this means there are two paths to choose from:

- learn to play a “natural” left-handed guitar

- learn to play “upside-down” (by flipping a right-handed guitar over so the high E is on top of the guitar and “mirroring” all fingering patterns) -this is handy for playing someone else’s guitar.

If there is already a right-handed guitar at home, a “low-budget” solution is to restring it with the strings placed reversely. If the kid likes it that way, you’ll maybe want to have the guitar’s nut and bridge adjusted for that configuration. Moreover, if the guitar has a scratch plate or a cutaway, those will be in the wrong place for your kid and if this becomes an annoyance, you’ll have to think seriously to investing in a “natural “left-handed guitar.

The role of each hand in playing the guitar

When it comes to learning a musical instrument, it’s interesting that the dominant (preferred) hand is usually more efficient in “rapid” beat techniques. Think about drums: a right-handed drummer uses the right hand to tap the high-hat, while the slower and constant beat is kept by the left hand.

If we think about the guitar without the fretting, it is basically a rhythm instrument. Similarly to the above mentioned drummer analogy, the strumming hand needs to keep rhythm and simultaneously be able to accent individual strings. This hand-preference is “natural”, however many people consider their fretting hand as being the driving factor in determining guitar “side”.

In fact, it is a matter of comfort between the skills that the two hands require to practice: If your kid’s natural order is to use the left hand to strike the strings, rather than placing the fingers on the fretboard, you will quickly see this and that should determine his/her style of playing as described above.

Left hand teaching and learning

Many instruments are either-handed (the piano, for example) which means it doesn’t matter which hand is dominant. Since most people (consequently, most teachers) are right-handed, beginners are usually encouraged to play right-handed, regardless their handness. Teaching left-handed students should be exactly the same way as the right-handed students, except that instructional material (scores and tablatures) has to be reversed.

Guitarists have to recognize the fact that the guitar requires skills of both hands. Their non-dominant hand, whether left or right, will usually take a little more attention than the other. Anyway, hand preference is not muscular: Studies indicate that this has something to do with the brain’s ability to interpret and perform rhythmic patterns.

There are many right-handed guitarists that chose (or were forced) to play the guitar strumming with their left hand and vice versa. This proves that, regardless of one’s hand preference, practicing makes any hand become able in fretting or plucking. However, following our “natural” handness may shorten learning time dramatically.


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