The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #80980   Message #1481432
Posted By: GUEST,Richard in Manchester
10-May-05 - 05:22 AM
Thread Name: Tips for teaching a lefty guitar?
Subject: RE: Tips for teaching a lefty guitar?
Tunesmith, with respect, it's you that doesn't get it. It is complete nonsense to suggest that left- and right-handedness only applies when carrying out an activity using one hand. To name but three sporting examples: golf, baseball and cricket all require the players to hold the club or bat with two hands, and in all three sports you will find left-handed players who address the ball the opposite way round from their right-handed counterparts.

The mistake that you and others make on this subject is to forget that 'handedness' is the consequence of brain characteristics; it is not simply a question of one hand being stronger or more dextrous than the other. For complex brain/hand co-ordination, as when playing an instrument, the brain's ability to work in its own natural way is far more important than mere strength and dexterity in the hands. The dominant side of the brain is the 'controlling' side (remembering that the right brain controls left hand and vice versa), so a person with right-brain dominance will tend naturally to use their left hand for 'controlling' motor movements - like strumming the strings on a guitar.

The fact that left-handed violinists are almost never seen is simply the result of centuries of repressive and conservative (small 'c') attitudes in music schooling. Remember that left-handedness was considered diabolical until not so long ago, and left-handed schoolchildren were still being forced to write right-handed well into the 2nd half of the 20th century. (I know, it happened to a class-mate of mine in 1972!). The guitar, being much more an instrument of the common people, was less afflicted by such attitudes.

The piano comparison doesn't work; you aren't comparing like with like. Both hands carry out the same action, pressing down on the keys; there is no 'controlling' action, where one hand produces the sound (as with bowing, plucking or strumming strings) which the other hand then modifies (fretting strings). The dominance of one brain/hand side or the other is therefore less significant, and whether you are right- or left-handed makes less difference to your ability to play. You can even play the piano with the hands crossed -over each other. Try that on a guitar or fiddle!