Looking for a very small whistle

Looking for a very small whistle

I’m looking for a very small D tin whistle which would be suitable for a child who is small of stature and has very small hands.

The child’s class mates are all learning on the standard D whistle without problem but this kid is too small for it. So does anyone know if there is such a thing as a ‘high’ D whistle which would be much smaller than standard D? If you do know of such a thing would you also know where I might get one?

Many thanks in advance for any help you can give.

Re: Looking for a very small whistle

The smaller the tube, the higher the pitch I’m afraid… that’s physics. What you could try is a whistle with a wider bore (such as the Walton’s Mellow), as these have a somewhat shorter tube as compensation (but larger tone holes as well); or maybe a conical whistle (such as Clarke’s) for smaller tone holes, if this is the main issue.

Re: Looking for a very small whistle

Hi Sebastian,

yes I’m looking for a pitch an octave above concert which would therefore be about half the size of the usual D whistle. While I could get a G or an A whistle then the child would have to learn different fingering from their class mates and might not be able to play all the tunes the rest would play in D.

Does anyone know of such a small D whistle?

Re: Looking for a very small whistle

If with "usual" whistle you mean a standard high D (as opposed to a low whistle), an alto whistle would actually be larger. Generation makes sopranino whistles in high F and G; AFAIK ("garklein"?) whistles an octave above high D are prohibited by the Geneva Convention. ;-)

Re: Looking for a very small whistle

I once had a little G whistle, which was about as small as it was possible for me to play, as my fingers were all touching each other. When you consider the difference in size between a low D and a soprano D, I doubt whether one an octave higher still would be feasible; although I am prepared to be enlightened.

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Re: Looking for a very small whistle

Thanks Sebastian and Gam, I suspected that a very high D would be impossible but I decided to let hope overrule experience and ask anyway on the off chance that there was such an instrument.

I’ll try a G whistle as many of the tunes the children are learning are in that key anyway. Thanks again for your help.

Re: Looking for a very small whistle

The conical Shaw D whistle actually needs a slightly bigger finger spread for the bottom hand that a Generation. The top hand has a slightly smaller spread but the holes are bigger. I am surprised by that because IIRC the low D Shaw is less challenging than most.

Re: Looking for a very small whistle

Piper’s grip?

Ye canna’ change the laws of physics Cap’n, but you can alter the position of tone holes if you alter the size, as some flute makers do in their "small hand" versions.
I guess this is probably unrealistic, but Generation whistles use standard size brass tube. Not a hard project - sacrifice one piece of tube getting the hole size and placement right.
Alternatively one of the PVC whistle makers might be willing to do it inexpensively. Worth asking over at Chiff & Fipple whistle forum.

Re: Looking for a very small whistle

From an engineering point of view…
What you need is a standard high D whistle, with keys to get the fingers closer together.
Admittedly covering half a hole would be difficult.

Re: Looking for a very small whistle

Hi
If the problem is stretching to meet the holes. could try the following:

1 Pipers grip (as mentioned before) covering the holes with the joints/tips of the fingers rather than the pads, usually allows a bit of extra "stretch" to meet the holes,
2 Using a rubber band to exercise the inter-osseii muscles of the hands (splaying the fingers with light resistance of same form rubber band

or if finding it hard to cover holes fully some tape over lapping the edge of the hole might allow him/her to cover more fully. (mightn’t look great but could use decorative tape depending on age of child). Might be a lot of work to try to sort. G whistle if they are playing together as a class should lead to different fingering anyway as the base note is G (all 6 fingers down) versus just the upper hand of the D whistle to get the same note. Which might be tricky for them.


*Health warning I play the whistle but have no formal musical or engineering training

Re: Looking for a very small whistle

The closest you’ll find is a *garklein* recorder, which is an octave above a descant recorder. But I would not recommend it because:

i. the fingering is completely different
ii. it sounds different
iii. it’s a bit of a specialist instrument, therefore you don’t find cheap ones

If the child were having one-to-one lessons, then the obvious choice would be a Generation F or G whistle, until her/his hands could manage a D whistle. In a group teaching situation, though, this is clearly not an option - I’m afraid the only way may be for the poor wee mite to struggle on until they can reach the holes.

A whistle an octave above a normal high D? I’m getting earache just thinking about it.

"From an engineering point of view…
What you need is a standard high D whistle, with keys to get the fingers closer together."

From an engineering point of view, how would you mount keys onto 0.5mm thick brass? Using thicker walled tubing could be a solution, but that means adding weight - and there’s the weight of the keys and mountings too - which would probably compound the difficulties for a very small child.

Just out of interest, is the child’s small stature caused by some kind of growth disorder, or are they just a bit small for their age (or just very young)? If the former, it might be worth finding a long term solution (like taking up the garklein recorder, for example - or learning to use different fingerings on a high G whistle); if the latter, then I can only recommend patience and perseverence.

Re: Looking for a very small whistle

interesting situation, I hope everything all gets sorted out.
A whistle above the normal high D octave— that’s painful to think about. I hope such a thing doesn’t exist.
Best of luck to you and your class! Congrats for teaching them some tunes.

Re: Looking for a very small whistle

"From an engineering point of view, how would you mount keys onto 0.5mm thick brass? "
Easy.
Solder small pillars on.
Or solder small thicker pads on and screw into those.
Do that sort of thing all the time in the model engineering world.
Not suggesting it’s a practical solution in this case.
Just that it’s the way many wind instruments work.
The tenor recorder, for instance, has a key for the bottom hole.

In this case I would think, as has been said, the poor wee mite will probably have to struggle on with the existing spacing.

Re: Looking for a very small whistle

A few other posters have mentioned it already but here is a YouTube video of the piper’s grip.

http://youtu.be/nca0OT5e6yI


Another option that I can’t speak from experience is maybe getting a Susato whistle and having the comfort retrofits added. They are not cheap, but they might help with covering the holes. My understanding of them is that the whistle has buttons added, though I have no idea if they can add all the keys on. Maybe contact the maker with your child’s problem and see what they can do to help?

http://www.susato.com/konakart/Comfort-Key-Retrofits/Kelhorn-Corp./Susato-Pennywhistle-Key-Retrofit-%28%2425.00-per-key%29/SUKEY/2_1554.do

Cheers and hope you can find a solution to this.

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Re: Looking for a very small whistle

I don’t know how small the child is, but I think it would just be a matter of practice. If there are 7 year olds who can play a full sized Irish flute, I would think any person of any size could handle a high D whistle. He might need to just practice for quite some time to get used to it. It’s not unusual for a person to have initial difficulties with an instrument, but luckily they can usually be worked out with time.

Re: Looking for a very small whistle

piccolo or fife?

Re: Looking for a very small whistle

I have a friend who never got the idea that you can play everything ( up to a point ) on a standard D whistle, and would reach for her high G if told some tune was in G. It was painful to hear for several reasons ! The idea of someone needing to play an octave above the standard D hurts my ears even to think about it. I think Christopher Selby is right on this. And small children grow pretty quickly.

Re: Looking for a very small whistle

Although I’ve never heard or seen one, I wouldn’t be too alarmed about about a super-high D whistle. My partner occasionally plays a Garklein Flutelein, the equivalent recorder and though it is very high it is very sweet - think birdsong rather than a horrendously overblown standard high D.

Re: Looking for a very small whistle

I would think the recorder would be sweeter because you are pinching the thumbhole while playing the high notes, instead of solely attaining the second octave through overblowing, as with whistle.

Re: Looking for a very small whistle

Gam said, "I doubt whether one an octave higher still would be feasible…"

I’ve got one, actually, but it is extremely small, and has a sliding tube which covers the holes instead of your fingers. Still not suitable for fionan’s purpose, however, as it’s more of a novelty. I can’t remember where I got it, but I really just got it for the amusement of my whistle classes.

Re: Looking for a very small whistle

"yes I’m looking for a pitch an octave above concert"

I am picturing every dog in the neighborhood running to your door when
you blow on that whistle.
:-)

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Re: Looking for a very small whistle

"yes I’m looking for a pitch an octave above concert"
That’s actually a normal high D.
In organ terms
Low D = 8 foot
High D = 4 foot
What we’re talking about here, 2 foot

Re: Looking for a very small whistle

First off many thanks to everyone for their advice. We went with a G whistle and now I know exactly why sebastian the m̈etapop said anything above G is banned under the Geneva Convention. I’ve transposed the ‘D fingering’ for the G whistle so we’ll see how it goes.

Reducing the hole size and adopting the pipers grip will also be tried as the child in question is half the size of their peers and will not grow much bigger due to a particular medical condition.

Thanks again everyone.

Re: Looking for a very small whistle

Just a thought - if this is a long term difficulty it might be worth seeing if a six-hole D piccolo would be easier to make with a reduced finger spacing. A steeper learning curve (I can’t do much with one yet !) but maybe a more versatile instrument.