Every week, I get an email from GuitarInstructor.com detailing the new video lessons and guitar TABs they have for sale.  Last week, I was especially intrigued to see a video lesson from country singing star John Denver on how to build left hand fretboard strength. 

I ponied up my two dollars for the video lesson only to quickly discover the lesson wasn’t taught by John Denver, but rather by John DenNer!

I confess I was momentarily surprised to see John Denner has no right hand and a massively large and powerful left hand.  The lesson begins with John’s fantastic, and huge, personality enlivening a difficult topic:  Getting the left hand stronger for playing guitar.

No mention was made — appropriately so, I suppose — of the subtle irony of John’s lesson in strengthening the left hand while having no right hand, and I frankly wanted John to take a moment to discuss his workarounds for his disability.

I realized as the excellent lesson was playing that the how or why of John’s missing right hand didn’t matter to the topic at hand because his magnificent left hand was so deft and beautiful in situ:  His technique ruled the day, not his disability. 

As the husband of a disabled wife, I am aware of the daily pressures and limits that must be faced each day — and that’s why I would pay an extra two dollars to learn from John Denner just how he is able to manipulate a guitar pick and precisely how he was able to overcome the obvious historic prejudices rallying against him ever making dime as a professional guitar player.

Here is John’s fascinating YouTube channel, and he’s an example of his killer playing:

I admire John Denner for his greater lesson by example, and I appreciate that Hal Leonard, the muscle behind GuitarInstructor.com, for bringing John directly into my Inbox and subsequently into our admiring minds and bettered hearts.


  1. Thanks for the great review, David. I certainly would be interested in learning about how Mr. Denner overcame his disabilities and got to be such a great player.

  2. It was a rare delight to be so surprised, Katha. I was expecting one thing and got a whole other experience that was ripe and rich on so many levels!

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