We love lefties too! ❤ On the occasion of International Lefthanders Day we dedicate this blog article to our fellow musicians, who did things the other way around! Paul McCartney, Jimi Hendrix, Charlie Chaplin, Kurt Cobain… all lefties! ✌
Left-handed instruments turn left-handed people into happy musicians
The percentage of left-handed people in the population varies from 10 to 13% depending on sources. So out of a million musicians, this would mean that 100- to 130,000 of them are left-handed… in reality, the numbers are even less. Even today children don’t always choose the dominant hand for writing, even if they can choose freely.
But the days when left-handed people were taught to become right-handed are long gone: the fact is left-handed people need instruments tailored to their needs (mirrored!), notes and training in order to fully develop their musical potential. There are also left-handed musicians who play extremely well on right-handed instruments, for example Helene Grimauld on the piano. However, these are rather exceptions. Musical education including training materials tailored to the personal handedness of the individual has considerable advantages: significantly improved concentration, significantly reduced rehearsal or practice times, effortless memorization, flawless play, flow, better body awareness and motor skills, and allows for a natural brain development of the musical processes.
Instruments for left-handed musicians
The musical instrument industry already offers a number of instruments and accessories in this area. Guitar in particular is considered a pioneer and has a good selection for lefties. Many left handed electric guitars are available, as well as numerous left handed acoustic and classical guitars, basses, and ukuleles.
In the field of drums it’s very simple: the drumkit can be set up in a mirror image without a problem. As for the metalheads, double left-handed bass drum pedals are also not forgotten.
There are left-handed violins, but most players learn the instrument “the right way” or else the image of the orchestra would be disrupted. As far as cellos are concerned, left-handed musicians can simply reverse the strings, but this is also very rarely seen. There are a few left-handed double basses, but most bassists also reverse the strings.
For transverse flutes the position of the hands is the same for left- or right-handed players: the flute on the right. However, there are also exceptions. Other wind instruments such as saxophone, oboe, clarinet are often only available in left-handed version on special order.
Some food for thought: left-handed guitars are the biggest bulls–t ever invented. Why is that? Imagine: one would not have decided to start playing guitar but playing the piano. Are there any left-handed piano’s? Bass keys on the right and treble key on the left? No, of course not. Piano’s come only in one “appearance” and you just have to deal with that, left-handed or not. When you have to start from scratch with playing the guitar and you are a “lefty”: start playing on a “normal” guitar! Why? because later on when you need a good guitar and you walk into a guitar store you will find hundreds of “normal” guitars to choose from and just a couple of lefties. A guitar has to fulfill 4 criteria: 1: it has to play well for your likes, 2: it has to have the sound(s) you’re looking for, 3: it has to have the right looks to your taste and 4: it has to fit within the budget you are willing to pay. If one of these 4 criteria is a “no-no” you’d better leave it in order to prevent disappointments later on. Well….lots of succes trying to fullfill all 4 criteria when you can choose only out of a handfull of lefty guitars. Besides, think of this: all those right-handed guitarists who play on “normal” guitars: with what hand is it you do the most difficult things with? Right, your LEFT hand. So, “lefty” guitarists playing on a lefty guitar would do the most difficult things with their RIGHT hand. So where is the logic in left-handed guitars? And left-handers can perfectly learn to play right-handed. May I introduce a certain Jan Akkerman, for instance, as an example?
I would claim as a lefty piano player that pianos are more left handed than right. Certainly notes are usually played in the right but notes are spaced farther and must be played at the same time more often in the left. The bottom line is that each hand has its own challenges, but I like the way it turned out for me. In order to add variety to my music ability I picked up the bass guitar. There is no way I’m doing that right handed. It’s not just “getting used to” it. Each hand already has specialized functions or more accurately each part of your brain has specialized functions and you will have to have a more grueling process of changing that which in essence what learning a instrument is. I happen to have a medical license for my day job so this isn’t all just conjecture on my part.
Jay Lorenzo says:
Hard to explain unless you are a lefty. I picked up a guitar when I was 18 or so, and really struggled trying to fret with my left hand and pluck with me right, but immediately felt it was easier or more natural to play when I held the neck with my right hand. I’m bummed that I didn’t learn to play right handed, to tell you the truth, as there is so little selection in left handed instruments.
P Buddery says:
I typed in “left-handed clarinet” as a joke, because to my way of thinking, the standard saxes, flutes, and clarinets are all left-handed. The left hand is at the top and has to work harder. I have seen both Kurt Cobain and Hendrix write with their right hands on youtube, though I had an idea Hendrix was forced to write right-handed when little. When I started playing, I seriously thought of playing left-handed so that my cleverer right hand was fretting. But it didn’t happen, and my left hand got clever.
I am a left-hander with a passion for collecting (and learning to play) ‘right handed’ string instruments. I have to work on speed and strength in my right hand but the left hand gets to do loads of cool and tricky stuff on loads of instruments.