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New student, with a Twist!

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by MaddAnthony_59, Jan 28, 2014.

  1. MaddAnthony_59

    MaddAnthony_59 Supporting Member

    Dec 16, 2006
    Columbus, IN
    I Channel Surf During Commercials. (Drives my Wife CRAZY!!!)
    I have recently agreed to take a "Friend of the Band" as a student. He has been taking lessons for about a year, but feels that his current instructor is more of a "Friend" than a teacher, and is not getting much benefit from "Hanging Out" at $30 an hour. At any rate (I'm doing it for free/favor to the band, as he is our "Security" at shows) I met with him for the 1st time last night to see where we are at. He is a "Fingers" player, and has decent right hand technique. But his left hand is really mechanical, and not fluid at all. Not really a problem, but most previous students had the opposite problem. So I talked with him for a bit then he points out that he is Really Left Handed, and his previous teacher talked him into playing Right handed. (WTH?!?) So! There in lies my question. Should I continue teaching him as a Righty, or Bite the Bullet and get him going to his natural hand? :confused:
  2. Rosebud


    Jan 3, 2007
    I've never tried to approach this topic, however I have wanted to play left handed (I am right handed) as an experiement, to try and see if I could benefit from switching up. Feldenkrais (a movement therapy) talks about using the other side of your body, really, to make you realize what you are doing wrong with your dominant side, to create symmetry.

    I feel like a lot of left handed players on TalkBass who have encountered this will say, play left handed, that's my impression. It makes sense to me. Use the time your new student spent playing right handed as a tool, tell him he has not wasted his time, he can apply some of the things he learned to his gerneral musicianship and also superimpose what he was doing to his other hand and it should feel more comfortable after time.

    That's what I would do, anyway...another thought playing right handed may be what's holding hmi back.
  3. Matvei


    Feb 12, 2010
    I'm a lefty trying to learn bass and just holding the bass "feels" better left-handed. I'd like to be able to get access to all the multitude of basses that aren't available lefty but I got to go with what feels right to me I guess.

    Some leftys are more flexible and I am myself for certain tasks so this ain't universal or anything. Do you have access to a lefty bass (that is well setup) that you could have the student try?
  4. blixild

    blixild Supporting Member

    Mar 4, 2006
    Buffalo, NY
    I'm a lefty who has played right-handed for all of my bass-playing life. I played piano before bass, and my right hand was (and still is) stronger and more dextrous at the precise movements than my left hand. I do wish I had learned bass left handed, because I feel like I would play a lot better technically.

    Do you have a keyboard or piano handy? I'd have him try doing some basic finger exercises on that (1-2-3-4-5-4-3-2-1, etc.) to assess which hand's fingers move more naturally. You could also do this with the bass, leaving the plucking hand out and flipping the bass over for the left-handed version.
  5. lfmn16


    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
    Switch him to his natural orientation. I don't know why some people thing there is a benefit to making playing harder than it needs to be. Then I would call his former teacher and give him a verbal b!tch slapping. He obviously doesn't know the first thing about teaching and it makes me wonder what he is doing to his other students.
  6. I am a lefty. But I play using my right hand for fretting. There were no lefty basses before here or guitars for that matter.
  7. Roy Vogt

    Roy Vogt Supporting Member

    Sep 20, 2000
    Endorsing Artist: Kiesel, Carvin, Accuracy, Hotwire, Conklin Basses, DNA, Eden
    John Pattitucci is a lefty who plays right handed as well. I think in this situation I'd let him try it both ways and if it's more comfortable to play lefty it should be quickly obvious to him and you.
  8. edencab


    Aug 14, 2013
    Toronto, On
    no harm in having him try a lefty for a week and see how he feels.....I think he would know in a day or two if it something he feels would work or not....

    ...speaking as a left handed person who does 95% of everything else right handed including bass......although after 50 years I have pretty well adapted to become a functioning Righty
  9. KeddyLee


    Nov 12, 2013
    Ever seen a left-handed piano? Didn't think so.

    It's also odd that the hand giving him the hardest trouble is his dominant hand? I've always played righty so it's hard to say but I think if I was forced to play lefty, my right hand fretting would become accustomed to the change quicker than my left.

    Tough call. I'd say stick with how he has learned it unless he tries lefty and there is an immediate change for the better.
  10. jbalou02


    Mar 8, 2010
    Take a field trip to your favorite bass shop, hand him a lefty and see!
  11. Bassist4Eris

    Bassist4Eris Frat-Pack Sympathizer

    Aug 11, 2012
    Upstate NY, USA
    After a year of playing righty he would have a lot of re-learning to do if he switched now. Why don't you explain the advantages and disadvantages to him and let him make up his own mind?
  12. jbalou02


    Mar 8, 2010
    One year of lessons makes not a permanent condition. One year of playing backwards makes crap in a bag. Try the lefty see how it feels. Cost = $0.00. Him more comfortable = priceless.
  13. I'm a left handed person that's been playing bass right-handed ever since I started. It just feels more natural.
  14. jbalou02


    Mar 8, 2010
    How do you know if you never played a lefty? My father-in-law was forced to write right handed because that's what they told him he had to do. It looks like chicken scratching when he tries with his left. Now, if he were to have started left handed 80 years ago do you think he'd feel awkward doing it today?

    They make left handed basses for a reason, not just to be funny or cute or different. Some guy named Jimi said screw this and played his righty backwards, he did ok...
  15. MaddAnthony_59

    MaddAnthony_59 Supporting Member

    Dec 16, 2006
    Columbus, IN
    I Channel Surf During Commercials. (Drives my Wife CRAZY!!!)
    Well, I've scored a Lefty Bass for $80 off of CL. I'm going over to watch the Super-Bowl at the Student's house, and I'll leave this bass with him, and have him try it for a month. I tried to play the lefty bass, and OMG! I can not Imagine the Frustration that he must have gone through trying to get his hands to work against what Nature has intended! (At least that's the way it felt for me...)

    We'll see how this progresses!
  16. aggrokragg


    Dec 18, 2013
    I'm a southpaw and I play bass right-handed. I bat right-handed in baseball as well.

    For whatever reason (probably brain malfunction) I just couldn't play bass left handed. It felt so unnatural to me, and something in my mind told me my dominant hand SHOULD be fretting, since it is the more "complex" work. My right hand can pluck or pick all day, but using it to fret was a disaster.

    That said, this guy isn't me. If he takes to the left handed bass like a duck to water, that would be awesome, and he can re-learn from the ground up. I'm sure if he was forcing himself to play righty then he picked up a bunch of bad habits that you can "un-teach" him to provide better and more natural technique.
  17. MaddAnthony_59

    MaddAnthony_59 Supporting Member

    Dec 16, 2006
    Columbus, IN
    I Channel Surf During Commercials. (Drives my Wife CRAZY!!!)
    Well, the jury is in. He wishes to continue as a Right Handed player. He actually has Decent technique with his Right Hand. His timing is more of an issue, and That I can work with!