Funny anecdote time. Because sometimes you need to step back and laugh at yourself.
This school year I have been giving ukulele lessons to students after school. I wasn’t sure how it would go or how much interest there would be, but the response has been amazing. At the moment, I’m teaching twenty-two kids. That’s about the most I can teach at once.
This past Friday, I started a brand new student. He was enthusiastic, and energetic and seemed really eager to learn, so we jumped right in with the beginning basics. I taught him how to hold his uke and how to strum it, and pretty soon he was attempting his first chords.
Immediately, we both knew something was wrong. It just didn’t sound right. I thought maybe it was his ukulele. It was a cheap, plastic one, which is usually fine for learning, but I had never seen this particular ukulele before, so I thought maybe this one wasn’t fine. I took it from him and tuned it up again and played it myself.
It sounded ok.
I gave it back to him and showed him how to make an F chord again. I made sure he was pressing down on the strings hard enough. He tried to strum it again.
I honestly did not understand. I was starting to get flustered. I took his ukulele and tuned in again (for the third time in 15 minutes) and played it. Again, there was no problem.
I was at a loss. This kid obviously had some sort of curse on him that made a ukulele sound terrible even when played correctly. I didn’t know what to do.
I just sat there for a moment like
Not knowing what else to do, I asked him to pluck the chord out instead of strumming it, so we could see which string was causing the problem. It sounded ridiculous. It was almost like he was playing his ukulele up……..side……down.
“Wait a minute! Are you left handed?”
“I can use both hands,” he replied.
“Try flipping your ukulele around. Yeah, use your right hand to strum.”
“There we go! Doesn’t that sound better!”
He smiled and agreed that it did.
Turns out, he was holding it upside down, and since he was sitting directly in front of me, it looked like a mirror image of how I was holding it.
The rest of the lesson went much better.
I can’t believe that this is the first time I’ve run into the left-handed/right- handed issue. I am thankful that the first time was with a ambidextrous player, so I didn’t have to restring his ukulele in the middle of a lesson to make it left-handed.
Now I know to talk to parents about which hand their child plays with, so we can set up the ukulele properly before the first lesson.
I’m such a dummy sometimes.