How to Learn to Play the Low D Penny Whistle

Updated March 23, 2017

The penny whistle, often called the Irish flute or the tin whistle, is one of the easiest wind instruments to learn. It comes in different keys, all of which are played in similar fashion, with the only difference being the location of the notes. A D penny whistle means the flute plays notes in the key of D. With a little practice, you can begin making simple music with your new penny whistle.

Hold the whistle in your right hand with the fipple (mouthpiece) facing up. Place your lips over the fipple, draw in a breath and gently blow.

Learn the notes, which are made by playing a combination of covered and uncovered holes. Use the index, middle and ring finger of your left hand to completely cover the top three holes (those closest to your mouth) and blow into the whistle. This produces a G. Blowing harder will give you a G note an octave higher.

Form the rest of the notes the same way, using a chart for reference (see resources). Cover all six holes to play a D, cover five for E, cover the closest four for an F sharp, cover three for the G, two for A and one for B.

Practice until you can play all notes fully without any break.

Play simple D sheet music, available at a music store or online (sometimes free of charge).


To play notes smoothly, don't press your fingers down too hard. Take a breath before blowing into the whistle. You don't need to be skilled at reading music. A whistle chart will show you where the notes are. Keep it with you until you memorise the notes.

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About the Author

Carl Hose is the author of the anthology "Dead Horizon" and the the zombie novella "Dead Rising." His work has appeared in "Cold Storage," "Butcher Knives and Body Counts," "Writer's Journal," and "Lighthouse Digest.". He is editor of the "Dark Light" anthology to benefit Ronald McDonald House Charities.