On being left-handed and playing the guitar

I clearly remember the day that I realized I was left-handed. We were cutting out something on construction paper at daycare, which means I must have been about four years old. I asked for the scissors and I remember the teacher specifically grabbing the special left-handed scissors for me. I looked at them, marked with the “LEFT” label and noted how many more right-handed scissors were available. That’s the day that I decided to use scissors right-handed – and realized that handedness isn’t black and white.

The world really is built for right-handed people – which often makes sense, given that for every left-handed person, there are about 8-10 right handed-people. But as someone who is left-handed, it gets annoying and you notice all of these little ways that things are just a little more difficult. Door handles, card readers on the metro, even buttons on clothing are oriented for right-handed people. They are small things, but they add up. And in many cases, it’s easier to just go with it – or occasionally twist into awkward positions when you realize you have your bag and metro card in the wrong hands again.

Apparently the first time I picked up a guitar, I held it left-handed. I didn’t know what I was doing and didn’t actually have any intention of playing, so no worries. When I actually decided to learn, I spent some time thinking: right or left-handed? On reading, many sites/teachers recommend learning right-handed: you’ll have access to more instruments and really, a guitar isn’t supposed to be inherently right- or left-handed. Apparently you want your dominant hand strumming and your non-dominant hand on the fret board, but you can learn it either way. So I bought a right-handed guitar and didn’t look back.

A few weeks in, I’m second-guessing myself. I found a Reddit thread where someone learned right-handed, then switched to left-handed after a year and was so much more comfortable. I’m doing okay with the fret board and chord shapes, but rhythm is hard. On the other hand, the teacher does say that strumming tends to be more difficult and rhythm hasn’t ever come easily to me. It’s been fascinating watching Justin from Justinguitar.com learn to play left-handed and tells me that either way, learning the guitar has a learning curve. I figure at this point, though, I should probably just stick with it and practice.

On a slightly different note, I seem to constantly have Three Little Birds and/or Leaving on a Jet Plane stuck in my head right now – those are the songs that I’m practicing the most.

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