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How to Play the Irish Whistle

Video Tutorial for The Low D whistle:


















The Irish whistle is a simple instrument and easy to learn. The Low whistle is just as simple except that there is more hand muscles required because of the size, and the air requirements also make it slightly harder. 

Understanding your scale:

The Irish whistle is most commonly made in the key of D. for the sake of this tutorial, all of the examples will be with a D instrument, some high D and some low D when needed. 

Your whistle plays a D major scale starting at the bottom with all holes covered and gently blowing into the mouthpiece you should be playing a D note. If you hear squeaks and weird noises, you may not be covering all the holes properly, or blowing at the correct frequency. sometimes it is easier to start with a higher note and work your way down until your breathing gets used to blowing at the right frequency for the low notes. This is especially the case on a Low whistle. Also the bigger holes on a low Whistle make covering them harder. Don't try and use your fingertips to cover the holes. Instead try using what is called the "piper's grip." this is accomplished by holding your fingers straight and relaxed above the whistle and placing them down over the holes without curving them. this usually means that the middle holes on each hand will be covered by the center or middle pads of your middle fingers.


Most players play with their left hand on top, all though there are always exceptions to that rule. For this tutorial we will use the left hand on top style. As you pick up your fingers from bottom to top you will start moving up the scale note by note. so ring finger of right hand up will play an E, lifting your right middle finger will play and F#, lifting your index finger will play a G, lifting the ring finger of your left hand will play an A, lifting your left middle finger will  give you a B, and lifting your left index finger will give you a C#.  That is the notes of the first octave. The second octave is played basically by blowing a little harder. so to play the second octave D you put all fingers back down and blow a little harder than you did for the low D note. note that many players find it easiest to reach the second octave D by leaving the top hole open. This will ensure that you don't play the lower octave D. You can see this on the chart below. 


If you would like  more information or lessons on playing the Irish whistle, Nick gives lessons though Facetime/Skype/Messenger. Please use the contact form to request lessons. 



Below is a Whistle fingering chart which I think you will find very handy:

whistle chart.jpg
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