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honeyiscool
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Joined: 01 Feb 2011
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 24, 2011 5:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would put more stock in innate ability and potential arguments if I honestly believed that everyone practiced as much as they should. So you know a lefty that plays righty and sucks at picking and strumming? You ever notice that most righties suck at picking and strumming? I know people who've played many many years who get along pretty well but at a technical level their wrist is tense and they'll just never be able to chop a sixteenth note as a result.

If you want to alternate pick like Paul Gilbert, you have to specifically practice for that, and if you wanna groove like Nile Rodgers, you have to specifically practice for that, too. Basically, most guitarists I know (including me) are technically mediocre at best and as far as I see, it's because they haven't committed the time to practice that the greats have. Maybe because they're playing with the wrong hand factors into it, but most of being a musician is in your head anyway. I just think that the biggest issue is practicing, that's all.

When you start, you suck, and you do it every day, and then in a couple of years, you don't suck so much. It just seems like a lot of people blame talent or handedness or clumsiness or whatever when the fact of the matter is, everyone I've ever met who is proficient at their instruments has practiced more or practiced more efficiently than everyone who isn't proficient at their instruments. And when I mean practice more efficiently, there are people who only focus on what they can do, and those who practice what they can't do. It's the second group that progresses faster.

Sure, playing with the "wrong hand" might slow you down. As I say, though, guitar is a two-handed instrument and I'm just not sure if the picking hand or fretting hand is more difficult. I think it's safe to say that to play at a virtuoso level, both have to be extremely advanced, way beyond what they are normally expected to do. So, if you believe you're playing with the wrong hand, then you should flip before you commit too much time to practicing because you just can't be in a mindset to have good practices if you have self doubt because the only way you progress is by refusing to be down about your cumulative failures, which music practice is all about anyway. It's about failing 50 times so you might nail it the 51st time. If you start asking yourself, "Am I incapable of this?" you just won't be able to progress.

No, I'm not saying that handedness is all in your head. I'm just saying that there might be something to that, much like I believe that there is something to natural talent and all that. But I don't think any of it can't be overcome with enough good practice and the right positive attitude. That said, maybe something that would take you 1000 hours to learn right-handed will take you 500 hours to learn left-handed, and in that case, you'd be a fool to play right-handed. And the nice thing is, unlike natural talent, you can change the hand you play with. The problem is, nobody, not even you, can with 100% certainty guess which way will be the way that ultimately gets you where you need to be and get you there faster. You just have to choose one and hope that it's the correct choice.
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Billy3000
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 24, 2011 6:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The problem with your argument, honey is that most people have one hand that is dominant and thus will feel more natural to learn these techniques by playing a guitar for their dominant hand. Yes 16th notes are a hard technique to get down, even proper 8th note strumming and picking is a difficult technique for beginners to get down, I know because I teach guitar and deal with it every day. That being said, if a lefty was playing a right handed guitar just because it's "hard for everybody and you just have to practice", I still don't think they'll ever be as good as they could if they just played the way that felt more initially comfortable to them. If a lefty player is ambidextrous enough or can just play a right handed guitar with no problems then all power to them, but if it feels easier to play a left handed guitar then it's dumb for them to try and play right handed. It will require more practice and more frustration and will more likely lead to them giving up. Learning guitar requires enough practice, dedication, and motivation to power through the frustrating process of learning it and most people that play with their dominant hand give up because it's too hard for them, adding in the extra frustration of going against your dominant hand is stupid. period.
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honeyiscool
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Joined: 01 Feb 2011
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 24, 2011 6:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My question is why does the fretting hand get a free pass in all this? Why is it considered the easier hand? Is it because cowboy chords and power chords don't require much coordination? Most people I know can probably tremolo pick at twice the rate they can fret accurately, and playing with any kind of speed seems to be largely dependent on how fast you can fret.

Just for the hell of it, I tried just doing a 1-2-3-4 with my fingers on my desk (just tap index-middle-ring-pinky as fast I can). My left hand is almost as fast as my right hand now that I've practiced this enough, but the right hand can do it for much longer, and this is despite the fact that I no longer practice this motion with my right hand.
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Pens
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 24, 2011 8:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've heard that "better to have your fretting hand be your dominate hand" thing a million times, and no, I do not have an answer for that.

Consider holding a bow and arrow, or a rifle. For a righty, you point it and aim with your non-dominate hand (left) which is far more important and requires finer coordination skill than the work your dominate hand is doing, pulling a trigger or pulling the string back. Why is it set up that way? The "more coordinated" hand is doing the easy part.

It's not about the coordination in the hand, it's about how your brain is wired to control and process these things. The relevant side of your brain that handles those functions are also hardwired to control a particular hand. For people like me, my brain has a decent amount of cross-brain bandwidth and I can do many things with both hands, there's a neural pathway to control the opposite hand from the region that controls that action.

But for other things, that pathway does not really exist. Like with guitar, or piano. My brain maps them the opposite way, and sending the signals to control the action to the respective hands isn't really there, what does exist is inefficient and I could not do it with the proper speed required. "Coordination" doesn't refer to a single hand with guitar, it's coordination between both hands. I do not really have the coordination structure set up to be able to fret with my left hand and strum with my right.

Can I do it? Sure. I did it before. I learned quite a few cowboy chords that way and could pull it off. But changing chords was still as difficult after 2 years of nearly daily practice as it was on day 1. It just did not click. My timing was always off. The bassist in two of the bands I've been in in the past is a lefty who plays righty. We've had these discussions a bunch of times. Sure, he's a good bass player. His brain had those pathways that made it make sense to him. I'm not saying it's not possible. What I'm saying is that there are plenty of people out there that lack that pathway, that could possibly have led to a lot of actually talented people give up guitar because it didn't make sense and they couldn't do it. Had they switched, maybe it would have worked. I'm sure there's some cases of right handed people playing left handed out there. Their brains are wired up in such a way that it makes sense for them.

All I'm saying, is that playing guitar left handed is natural, even when I first flipped it over that way, in a way that right handed never did. It feels to me how picking up a guitar right handed to you does. All of those people saying it felt "awkward when they first picked it up"? Yeah, I don't understand that, except when I picked it up right handed. When I flipped it, it wasn't awkward at all. Sure, for the first week my strumming hand felt stiff as it wasn't used to the action yet, and my fret hand wasn't used to making the chord shapes. But still, it felt "normal" that way. Playing right handed always felt like I had my shoes on the wrong feet, even though they were the right size. I could strum and make chords that way, but it felt wrong.
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honeyiscool
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 24, 2011 10:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's really cool. Ultimately, I think it's really cool that guitar is a versatile enough instrument that it can adapt to different people wanting to play it differently. Piano is not so forgiving.

I haven't heard of TOO many righties playing lefty, but I did hear of a few. But I think it's interesting to observe an activity where being lefty is considered an advantage: baseball. There are players out there who bat left-handed even though they're right-handed, and people like Ichiro can do it at the highest level and (expected to) be a Hall of Fame caliber player. Given how much power he generates both at the plate and with his throwing hand, you wonder what kind of player he'd be if he batted righty. He would probably still be a major league quality player, and probably a very good one, but might not be so much of a contact guy who hustles to first to beat the throw (as he wouldn't be as effective in that regard), and wouldn't have the unique set of skills that make him who he is. Sort of like David Byrne and Mark Knopfler would be different players if they played lefty.
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