Mar 10, 2009

Confession of a closeted left handed guitar player

You know, I never thought to mention this, but I am left handed. Now this may not seem important to most, because there are certainly a lot of guitar players our their who are left handed, but most left handed guitar players who are capable of great technique and guitar speeds, typically choose to string and hold their guitars completely opposite.

This is not me. I play guitar the same way that most right handed guitarists play. What is the correct approach if you are a left handed person is just starting to play guitar? well, naturally there is no right or wrong way to go about it. I can remember when I first started playing, for the first 3 months, I couldn't do what most right handed guitar players had accomplished in that same amount of time.

So, if it was that difficult for me, then why did I go this route? because I was told that I had too, and that playing my guitar in reverse would be harder to practice on. What do I think now? its rubbish of course. Just because a right handed guitar player might imagine it to be a difficult task, doesn't mean that a left handed person will have a hard time with it. I mean, asking someone to go against their physical or genetic design, is like asking them to walk on the ceiling.

Oh, it gets better!!

This is really quite fascinating. The other night I was reading about being ambidextrous, because I claimed to be so to a particular person once. She told me that I was not ambidextrous, but that their was a different name for my capabilities, and that I was only "half" ambidextrous. So, I put it out of my mind, but when I read this article the other night, I was blown away by what it had to say about ambidextrous people.

The article explained that basically if you can do one thing that you shouldn't be able to do with your unfamiliar hand, then you are technically ambidextrous. Here's where it gets good. The article went on to explain that most people who are ambidextrous, start out as left handers, and learn to become ambidextrous because we live in a right handed world. Fascinating!

This tells you that what you believe someone can do is only based on them being "gifted", "lucky", or "blessed" is total B.S. I've said it for years, but people just like to make excuses for themselves, I think. I mean that's easier to do, right?

Anyways, imagine that you wanted to become ambidextrous for some reason - could you do it? hell yes you could! When I was six I broke my left arm, and it was in a cast for a very long time. I loved to draw, and spent most of my time doing this. So, I had to learn how to write and sketch with my right hand. I'm way out of practicing now, but at the time I learned to develop my right hand pretty well.

Exhibit A - written with my left hand.

Exhibit B - written with my right hand.

Anyways, if you are a left handed guitar player, don't let others make fun of you and push you around. This whole article came about from me watching a left handed guitarist in a video. He was amazing, but everyone was leaving hateful comments - just because he was left handed.

So, the question now becomes, "how should I hold my guitar?" or "do I need to re-string it?". My answer is that you should just pick something and go with it. I mean guitar is a challenging thing anyways, and you certainly can find little short cuts to make it easier, but if you were always looking for those shortcuts - you'd probably never get any practicing done.

I suggest going against the grain. I mean, if you practiced or played just like
everyone else, wouldn't you sound just like everyone else? yes, and guess what? most guitar players sound just like the guitar player standing next to them.

Guitar teachers all around the world teach the same stuff, with the same approach,
and if you collected all of these methods and put them together - you would have a manual for how to play guitar. Yet, how can man assume the authority to write such a thing, when music is art? how can you define what proper guitar playing or a proper guitar sound is? Do most guitar players want to do everything the way everyone else is? do they aspire to be birthed from the mold of regurgitated art?

Let me give you an example. If these very famous left handed guitar players were told to learn guitar the way everyone else does, do you think we would even know their names with that iconoclastic twist?

James Marshall Hendrix
Frank Anthony "Tony" Iommi
Kurt Donald Cobain
James "Iggy Pop" Newell Osterberg, Jr.
Sir James Paul McCartney

Strive to be original in whatever you do.

Some interesting facts about left handed people can be found in this.
left handed article

Also be sure to check out Left Handed for a very complete list of left handed musicians.

Go get 'em south paws! ;)

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