Issue 84: Left handed Ukuleles (or recorders, for that matter)

The short answer is NO!

I’ve just started teaching a short course of a wider opportunities year 4 class ukulele programme. Once again, the old “my daughter is left-handed, so can she play her ukulele the other way round?” question has arisen.

Well, I’m left-handed, and no-one ever suggested that I should have a specially adapted piano, with the treble and bass ends reversed! I am absolutely determined that the children should hold their instruments in the conventional manner.

It’s the right-handed children learning recorders who have the most difficulty with this. I did hear of a wider opportunities clarinet class where half the children had managed to get away with holding their clarinets with the wrong hand on top… I’m hoping that this is a blatant untruth and never happened in real life.

The ONLY exception I have ever made was for a child who only had their right arm – clearly¬†they couldn’t play with their left hand on top of they didn’t have a left hand. In fact¬†they couldn’t cope with the clarinet at all, so we swapped it for a cornet, but that’s another story.

If you think about it, the functions for left and right hands for ukulele playing are so different, that there is no point in restringing the instrument for left-handers and teaching them the opposite way. I think there is a definite advantage in being left-handed, as the fiddly, fine-motor skills part has to be done by the left hand fingers anyway.

I blame that Paul McCartney bloke and his left-handed guitar.

 

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2 Responses to Issue 84: Left handed Ukuleles (or recorders, for that matter)

  1. Hala innab says:

    I have a student with fine motor and learning delays. He is left handed and we started playing the recorders. He is having a very difficult time. I understand recorders should be played the same for left handed and right handed people but can I make an exception for him? I heard there are left handed recorders, is this true?

    Thanks

    • Kirsten says:

      I think what I would do would depend on the student: how old is he, how many are there in the class, how severe are his learning delays?

      The problem that most children have with recorders is that recorders should be played with your left hand on top, and the children are mostly right handed! So your pupil has an advantage, being left-handed! One of the simplest things to do to make sure that children use the correct hand, is to actually label their left hand – with a sticker on the back of their hand, or write “L” on it with washable pen, or put something around their left wrist. I also relate which hand should be on top to something in the class room, like “the hand nearest the windows”.

      You can get adapted recorders (for a price!) for people with physical conditions which mean that they cannot use their hands; http://www.dolmetsch.com/goldseriesrecorders.htm but I have a feeling that this might not be suitable for your student.
      When children have learning difficulties, you must be prepared to teach in tiny steps. I have got some ideas that I will share in a post this week.

      Thank you for your question, and I hope this has been some help.

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