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Playing the harp left-handed - For Stephen "it just feels natural"

Meet young Canadian musician Stephen Daniels-White.

Do you see yourself as left-handed or right-handed?

I think of myself as essentially right-handed. I write with my right hand, play the guitar and the lute with my right - but I eat with my left, brush my teeth with my left hand, bat with my left and I play the harp with my left hand.

Have you always played your instruments left-handed?

I play the classical guitar, the lute and I have recently started playing the harp. When I started playing the guitar, I was told that I must use a right-handed instrument. When I first started playing, I distinctly remember visiting a friend’s house who happened to play a left-handed guitar, trying it out and wondering why it felt better to play. 

How did you come by your lefty instrument?

I play the clarsach (or the early Irish harp), which is a traditional Irish harp. It was a gift from my mentor, who builds lutes, harps and other sorts of early renaissance instruments. It is not a specifically left handed harp, as there is no difference between a left- or right-handed clarsach.

It is strung with steel and not nylon or gut strings. The Irish were one of the first peoples to harness the melodic power of steel (stone carvings suggest as early as the eighth century).

Do you play in ensembles or orchestras?

I only play the lute and guitar in ensembles, I have yet to play the harp with a group.

Have you faced any reservations or concerns from other people about playing left-handed?

Certainty! My first harp teacher was very insistent that I play with my right hand, but it felt much more awkward and it was more difficult. My current teacher allows me to play with my left hand. I have been able to progress much more quickly this way. As I mentioned previously, my old guitar teacher also did not feel that it was okay for me to play well with a left-handed instrument.

Has your left-handed playing ever caused funny or strange situations?

This is not really a funny or strange situation, but I have been working on building my own left handed guitar. I have a cousin who is left handed and who wants to play the guitar. It is destined for her.

Are you connected with other musicians playing left-handed?

Not really, I mentioned a friend who plays a left handed guitar, but that is really all. I also have this cousin who is hoping to learn the guitar. I am currently building her a left-handed classical guitar. 

Does playing left-handed present any advantages?

I would say so. I have been able to play much more easily with my left hand than with my right hand.

There is not much else to say really. I have a friend who (as a joke) purchased me a left handed mouse for my computer, I have been enjoying it very much. It is fitted for a left hand. Also, I have yet to play any harp stuff on my YouTube channel, but feel free to check out my lute and guitar videos here [link forwarding to youtube].

Photo credits: private


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