How to Play Irish Tin Whistle Notes

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The Irish tin whistle, also known as the penny whistle, is a fun and simple instrument capable of producing clear, loud sound. The tin whistle features six fingering holes on the front of the instrument. Tin whistles can be made of a metal body and wooden mouthpiece, or all of plastic. Irish tin whistles are available in a variety of sizes, and are designed to be played in distinct keys.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Irish tin whistle

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  1. 1

    Hold your tin whistle using the proper positioning. Your left hand should be closer to your mouth, with your right hand closer to the bottom of the whistle. The three middle fingers of each hand will be used to cover the six fingering holes of the tin whistle. Sit comfortably in a chair or stand while playing the instrument, and hold the whistle at a downward angle away from your face.

  2. 2

    Place the mouthpiece of the whistle between your lips and gently blow to produce a tone. Learn the proper tonguing technique by whispering the word "too" through the whistle. This will provide a clean definition to the notes you play.

  3. 3

    Play some basic notes on your tin whistle. The easiest note to play is the C sharp, which can be played by leaving all of the whistle's holes uncovered. Covering the hole closest to your mouth with your index finger will produce a natural B note. Covering the adjacent hole as well will sound an A, while covering all three of the highest holes on the whistle will sound a G. All of these notes can be played with only the left hand.

  4. 4

    Try playing some notes with your right hand as well. Cover the three top holes as if you were playing a G, and cover the fourth hole with the index finger of your right hand. This will create an F sharp. Covering the fifth hole as well will produce an E. Covering all of the holes together will sound a low D. To play a high D, cover all of the holes except the one closest to your mouth.

  5. 5

    Experiment with some other high notes. Playing high notes will require you to blow harder than if you were playing low notes. Other notes will be a little trickier to play. For example, playing a C natural will require you to only cover half of the top hole while leaving the rest of the holes open.

Tips and warnings

  • Try playing the whistle without tonguing the word "too." This will produce slurred notes with a more legato sound.
  • Be sure you're not blowing too hard. The average person should be able to sustain a low note for 30 seconds if they're applying proper breathing techniques.

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