Playing different whistles at the Fleadh

Playing different whistles at the Fleadh

After searching the discussions, I wasn’t able to find the answer, but if it really is here somewhere, just point me in the right direction! Otherwise, does anyone know 1) if you are permitted to play other than a D whistle at the Fleadh, & 2) if anyone ever actually DOES this, regardless if you’re allowed or not.
My son would like to enter the whistle solos with his D, but enter the whistle slow air comp playing his C… but not if this will affect how he is judged. We’re talking the Mid-Atlantic US Fleadh to narrow it down.
I know the rules for last year said 6 hole penny-whistle styles only, & don’t mention specifically D, so I guess it’s technically allowed, which means my question is really — is it done?

Re: Playing different whistles at the Fleadh

Hi feadogirl

From Comhaltas rules for fleadh competitions.

"whistle (made of any material and in any key, but must have 6 holes and a fipple"

Re: Playing different whistles at the Fleadh

Great, thanks for the further info.

Now for the part about how common it is to see this (at least at the NY/NJ Fleadh)…. My son is not the type to want to stand out as different, LOL!

Re: Playing different whistles at the Fleadh

I have been to the Scottish, All Britain, Ulster and All Ireland fleadhs feadogirl, and the predominant key is D, as you would expect. The other keys I have seen played in competitions are Eb, C, B, Bb, A and alto G.

Re: Playing different whistles at the Fleadh

I had to smile. Your son plays ITM and doesn’t want to stand out as different? He needs an electric guitar like every other teenage guy if that’s the case! By the way, good luck to him!

Re: Playing different whistles at the Fleadh

Thanks for the wishes, ElaineT!
He’s not a teen quite yet, but he has always listened to ITM since it’s always on around here — & he can’t remember a time before he played the whistle — so it seems completely normal to him. Yes, in school he’s different, but everyone loves it so that makes him "cool" I guess. (They’re always parading him around to play.)
But if he was the only one in the airs competition not playing a D, he’d want to crawl under a desk & hide! Seems there’s "good" different & "bad" different….

Re: Playing different whistles at the Fleadh

i know a lot of people who do regional judging, and several all-ireland judges. if you want more info, i can ask them what they think. send me a private message and then i will follow through.

if you want my opinion, i would say that it depends. it is not against the rules, but a judge may or may not know this at the regional level. i know a judge that had a little girl use a D whistle instead of the C whistle she had in her hand to compete with. she played in D, but had trouble with it because she was not used to it, and it was clear that she would have played brilliantly on her own whistle. this judge later found out that the C whistle was no problem, and they still feel guilty about it to this day. this was several years ago (before i even started competing), but i know the judge, and it was clearly a misunderstanding, and i could never guarantee something similar would not happen.

so, my recommendation would be based on what your intentions are. if your son qualifies, will you go on to the all-ireland this year? if so, i would suggest you contact me privately and i can get a definite answer from people who judge at the regional and all-ireland level. of course, i will not anyone who might end up judging your son’s competition, as that could be considered unethical (not by official standards, but by my own).

if you are not planning on competing in ireland, my recommendation would be to let your son do what he is comfortable with. no judge will intentionally mark a child down for doing something that is not "kosher." at a higher level, there are things that will cause a judge to lower a player’s marks, even though it is not against the rules (and even if the rules explicitly condone it). at your son’s level, however, judges are very forgiving, and i would not worry about being marked down for a C whistle, especially if you dont plan on taking your son to ireland this year.

as a side note, does your son have a teacher or attend a session regularly? if he loves the music so much, getting him around people who play is the most important thing, even if he never receives formal instruction.

i hope that everyone’s feedback here is helpful, and i wish the best of luck to your son!

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Re: Playing different whistles at the Fleadh

daiv, that’s good stuff to think about. Yes, he’d go on to the all-ireland if he could, but that’d be most likely to happen in whistle solos (where his D is a foregone conclusion). He’s just learnt his first few slow airs (no one could ever get him to slow down before now!), so of course is trying that competition with far less of an eye on the prize. I think we’ll just go with the flow on the C or D in slow airs (meaning he’s prepared with both, & decides when he wants). Then we’ll keep an eye on it the next couple of years, & he can see for himself what everyone else does.
And yes, he’s had a teacher for some 4 - 5 years, & he occasionally attends a session, which he’d love to do more often (no one tries to get him to slow down there - ha ha) but alas, it’s not close to home, & it’s on a school night.
Everyone here has been great. I’ve lurked a bunch, but it’s nice to know the water’s so pleasantly warm when you first dip your toes in.

Re: Playing different whistles at the Fleadh

Best of luck to your son! Let us know how it goes.

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