low whistle holding grip with or without thumb rest vs neck strap

low whistle holding grip with or without thumb rest vs neck strap

Surely most low whistles don’t have enough weight to cause any discomfort playing them, except perhaps for the seldom heavy brass low whistles. I do play rather relaxed (holding the whistle around 25-30° down)without a death holding grip and this costed me almost my whistle.

A few times my low whistle almost slipped out of my hands and mouth while playing rapid changes between e and c# and/ or a longer c#. It happened after playing a long time and i noticed then that the back of my whistle got wet due to descending condensation (no not salivation) out of the mouth piece (labium) down to my supporting thumbs at the back. Only a few tiny drops were formed.

My aluminium whistle then became as slippery as an eel at that time and i had to grip it really harder at the cost of finger relaxation.

Looking for a solution I took my old neck strap from my sax (earlier life) and placed the “plastic” hook at the bottom opening of the whistle. This means i can play as relaxed as never before and can hold a c# for as long as you want, without fearing to lose my whistle or witout all other tricks for needed support (pinky finger, or covering the bottom ring-finger whole, or keeping the e-whole covered during the afore mentioned rapid e over c# shifts). The normal lip-two thumbs posture does the job with the strap and all fingers up.

This neck strap allowed me to play even more relaxed, and resulted in an instantaneously great improve in finger speed (around 10%: reels from 115 to around 130 and jigs from 140 to 160) ornamentation and accuracy. Not that i play very often at these tempi, i love the music a little slower but it surely gives you more possibilities for ornamentation.

Anybody else with the same or other experiences?

Re: low whistle holding grip with or without thumb rest vs neck strap

Interesting! What size of sax strap do you need out of interest? Tenor sax? It is something I considered at one time as well as thumb rests but I now find two things help me. One is rubbing wax on my hands and on the whistle to prevent any slippage. The other, which also supports playing faster and more economically is the use of different fingerings dependent on what I’m playing. I never use open holes for C#, nor even just covering the bottom hole. Both C# and B play equally well on my Goldie Low D with OOOXXX or different combinations of the bottom three holes depending on what else I’m playing. Playing between E and C# rapidly requires much less energy to go from XXXXXO to say OOOXXO. Why change more fingers than you have to to? There’s a good article here http://www.rogermillington.com/siamsa/brosteve/notlifting.html. A teacher I had for a short while also drew my attention to minimising finger movement. So many players seem to remove their fingers high into the air when they are not being used. This teacher suggested I watch videos of Davy Spillane to see how economically he plays with his fingers never being far from the holes.

Re: low whistle holding grip with or without thumb rest vs neck strap

@stefanremy: “Looking for a solution I took my old neck strap from my sax (earlier life) and placed the ”plastic“ hook at the bottom opening of the whistle.”

Doesn’t that affect the tuning of the D and compromise especially the bottom (which is usually delicate enough anyway)? I certainly wouldn’t put any foreign object into the bore of an instrument… :~O

Re: low whistle holding grip with or without thumb rest vs neck strap

@mikethebook thanks for the comment. It is the smallest strap I could find, the low whistle is not that big. I only need the strap to perfectly stabilize the whistle, and enjoy this way from a perfect relaxation of my fingers, not for carrying weight as for a sax. Thanks to this relaxation my finger technique improved enormously at a fingers snap. I just don’t use my fingers at all anymore to hold/stabilize the whistle, just my thumbs lips and strap.

I had allready read the article in your comment quite a while ago, very good article by the way. Probably a great teacher too.

Some problems for me: I do have perfect pitch and it annoys me if a note is not correct, so the whistle was really a challenge for me, besides the fact that none of the wind instruments are perfectly piched over their whole reach. also the classical instruments have to be corrected while playing them. In slower playing i correct the pitch by blowing differently for each note (not using volume) after a while you do this automatically. The biggest charm of the whistle lies in the fact that you can use pitch (over-under blowing, focus of the blowing, smaller wider cheeks, tongue positioning) as a mean for coloring the notes but i allways end in pitch. None of the wind instruments i played, have this huge coloring possibilities as the whistles do. (IMO most people don’t even hear these color differences when you play, all they can tell is that they like one player over another without knowing why) I don’t use changing the fingerings as mentioned in the article for rapid playing, but as a mean for coloring the notes also. Except for keeping the top whole closed in high d in rapid changes.

Keeping your fingers close to the wholes is mandatory for rapid playing, too close alters the pitch and color of the tone. I’m using this as my preferred vibrato technique.

greets

Re: low whistle holding grip with or without thumb rest vs neck strap

@ sebastian the m̈egafrog

thats why I placed the word plastic between “ ” . It certainly will not harm or defect the whistle, and the “hook” is so small it doesn’t alter the pitch or obstruct it in anyway. I only use this on the wider bore low whistles (low D F) never on the smaller higher whistles. They don’t slip at all.

Re: low whistle holding grip with or without thumb rest vs neck strap

Wow! I can see the problems of playing whistle when you have perfect pitch.

“In slower playing i correct the pitch by blowing differently for each note (not using volume) after a while you do this automatically. The biggest charm of the whistle lies in the fact that you can use pitch (over-under blowing, focus of the blowing, smaller wider cheeks, tongue positioning) as a mean for coloring the notes but i allways end in pitch.”

Now you’re talking a whole different ball game to where I’m at! Fascinating and bewildering at the same time. I long to know more if you have the time to enlarge on your answer or can direct me to resources. I’ve only been playing four years so have had little chance to think about such things. How for example do you alter pitch by blowing “differently” rather than softer or harder. In playing slow stuff, which I much prefer, I sometimes come at a second octave note from the octave below or drop the note an octave. But as for cheek shape and tongue positioning you’ve totally lost me. I long to know more about what you’ve alluded to.

Re: low whistle holding grip with or without thumb rest vs neck strap

For a while I had a “Chieftain Gold” Low D (alas made of solid brass, not gold as one might think) which weighed a ton and was uncomfortable for me to play.

I went down to a Band Instrument shop and looked at various straps and the Bari Sax strap was just the right size and I bought one. Yes a little plastic hook that you can clip on the bottom of the whistle. It doesn’t scratch the whistle and I can’t detect any effect on the pitch of the bell-note.

Yes with such a thing your fingers are released from the duty of holding the thing up, and can be fully relaxed. (Which of course is why sax players use them.)

I sold that Chieftain Gold and the various Low D’s I play are aluminum and extremely light and I’ve not used the strap in ages. For sure if anyone has hand-tension issues the strap will solve it, well the strap and playing with both thumbs off the whistle (tension comes from the opposition of the fingers and thumb, if you lift your thumbs there can be no tension).

Re: low whistle holding grip with or without thumb rest vs neck strap

I play a low D Walt Sweet Onyx. It feels slippery to me. To fix this, I fashioned a small, leather thumb strap. One end is lassoed around the bottom of the whistle, below the D note and the other end has a loop for my thumb. I can play with no worries of dropping and it is very low profile.
Since nothing is inserted into the body of the whistle, there is not change in sound.

Re: low whistle holding grip with or without thumb rest vs neck strap

@stefanremy: I don’t see what difference it is supposed to make whether it’s plastic or “plastic”, but if it doesn’t affect tone and tuning, good for you. I was just wondering.

Re: low whistle holding grip with or without thumb rest vs neck strap

@ sebastian the m̈egafrog

It was to draw attention to the fact that the hook was in plastic and not a metal one since the metal one could easily scratch the softer aluminium of the whistle.

Anyway, tone nor tuning are affected, and no damage to the whistle. If you have more than one low d, very easy to change whistles, with a thumb rest you would need one for every whistle because changing it continuously would soon leave scratches on the whistles, i think.

Re: low whistle holding grip with or without thumb rest vs neck strap

I just bite -

But I’m going through Susatos at a heck of a rate!

Re: low whistle holding grip with or without thumb rest vs neck strap

@mikethebook

That Roger Millington’s website is brilliant! I’ve learnt such a lot in just an hour or so - just got to practice it now and make it happen! Thank you so much!

Re: low whistle holding grip with or without thumb rest vs neck strap

I am considering buying rubber stickers for the thumb areas (the kind you see for prevention of slipping in the shower or bath) I’m having trouble finding them though. Maybe a bath shop.

Re: low whistle holding grip with or without thumb rest vs neck strap

What about rubber thimbles which, surely, one can still buy somewhere?

Ah yes: eBay or Amazon have them a-plenty.

Re: low whistle holding grip with or without thumb rest vs neck strap

I mean appliques, which would be applied to the back of the whistle, not the thumbs themselves.
Thimbles might look rather silly. If it gets the job done though.. *shrugs*