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A Left-Handed Beginner's Experience

Posted by joshcole on Sunday, March 7, 2010

Hey All,

So here's the basics:  me, 48 years old, left-handed.  Played piano for many years, but always felt frustrated when it came to strings.  I'd pick up a guitar (there were plenty around in my family, among the aunts and uncles) and try it out.  And be completely stymied.  It never occurred to me that it might be because everybody else's guitar was upside down in my hands.

A couple years ago my daughter started playing the violin in our local Suzuki program.  Soon after my son started cello.  In order to keep their interest up, I tried to play with them.  Badly, but with enthusiasm.  Meanwhile, they've made good progress and are starting to get interested in fiddling.  And that's what made me start thinking about banjo.

The breakthrough came when I realized that I didn't have to play a right-handed instrument.  I got myself a left-handed Deering Goodtime (used from Elderly--thanks, guys!) and I've been happily teaching myself basic clawhammer technique all week.

I won't speak for everybody, but I do suggest that all lefties try a left-handed instrument before committing themselves to a righty.  Obviously many people can switch without a problem.  In my case, though, it's pretty clear that my left hand is rythmically dominant.  I can play syncopated rythms much more easily when I keep the pulse with my left hand.  So it makes sense that this should be my strumming hand.  And here's the funny part--partly because of the quirky way I learned the piano, my right pinky and ring finger are stronger than my left (which usually just plays block chords).  And this helps with the fretting on the lefty Goodtime.

Go figure.  I'll let you know how it's going.

3 comments on “A Left-Handed Beginner's Experience”

Ks_5-picker Says:
Tuesday, March 9, 2010 @11:17:17 AM

Good you play piano right or left handed? ;)
I know some have learned the banjo right handed and some just have to play left.......different strokes for everybody.

joshcole Says:
Saturday, March 13, 2010 @9:52:56 AM

Count me in as one of those who have to play left (and who need a mirror to read chord charts). I'm just kicking myself that it took me so long to figure this out!

Anyway, better late than never. I've got my three chords down, and I can manage my bum-dittys pretty well for the moment, as long as I keep it at a slow trot...

LoJo Says:
Monday, January 3, 2011 @5:17:22 PM

Hi! I'm in Ann Arbor and have been "playing" the banjo for about a year. I saw an old post where you mentioned you had a banjo teacher in Ann Arbor. Could you share their name? Did you like him/her? Did you think lessons were worthwhile?

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