Recently, I've decided to upgrade my old Squier Strat for a 7-string Ibanez 7321. The strat is about 4 years old, so decided to give it a clean, which included a complete restring.

Now, a bit more background - I'm an avid Guitar Hero player, quite good, but can't really bring myself to play it often enough to be among the top league of players. Plus, it's not really very popular here in Aus, so while I've won beer and an IPod from T, I doubt i'd be able to earn much more. It's still fun though, so I figured I'd use the opportunity to learn a new skill - ambidexterity. You see, there's this option to play 'lefty-flipped' = everything reversed, where you strum with your left hand, and fret with your right.

I'd never noticed until I tried, how hard it was at first. You see, while it was easy to think what you should do, muscle memory inevitable took over. When playing normally, you always fret (left-hand) slightly before strumming (right-hand) so you're holding notes down before you hit them. Your left hand naturally learns to move a bit before right, so when you flip, suddently you're strumming before notes are held (= bad). Similarly, transitions between chords with the right hand, or simple strumming patterns with the left, would suddenly be much harder.

Which leads me to think that hand preference is more a thing of repeated action, than actually being better at one. You see, I began practicing in such a way that mistakes weren't tolerated (that is, starting by just finishing expert careers, but now aiming at 100% for expert songs, so far acheived on two of them! :D) and my progress isn't too dissimilar from playing normal-handed.

Now back to my original story - I decided to restring it flipped, with the strings in reversed order, to try to learn to play normal guitar flipped. I already know all the theory, tis just a matter of muscle coordination, so hopefully by next year I should have it at a reasonable stage :) At the moment, strumming still feels kinda odd, and my right hand feels strangely inflexible, but Wonderwall is starting to sound ok :) But yeah, in short - ambidexterity is a weird thing, it'd be nice to be able to use either side equally, and although it seems hard at first, practice does seem to help a lot...maybe it'll come in useful one day.

Note also that it can be quite odd - if you try to write left-handed, it's much easier writing the letters correctly than writing them as mirror imaged, I'm guessing in this case we remember the visuals more than the muscle movements. However, some things are easier to do wrong-handed when outright flipped.

In other cool news, my indoor soccer team won our grand final! That's two seasons in a row, especially good this season as we only just made it into the finals themselves, never expected to do that well, and it's also my last full season here in SA (...for a while, at least). Secondly, a Melbourne uni team of coders recently won our ACM regional - I was hoping these three would win, they've all been taught in the high-school program I help with, and what is more, check their team name! :)

Holidays on now, which means honours talk soon, and lots of thesis for now!


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