Low Whistle Help

Low Whistle Help

Hey fellow folkies, I play whistle (mainly low whistle), and I have been playing a little over a year now and can play a fair amount of tunes and jam and stuff, but I’ve never really practiced, I’ve jsut learned tunes or jammed.

So I’m wondering is there anyone who can reccomend some tips and tricks to learn, and some exercizes for practicing etc?

Help is appreciated!

x

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Re: Low Whistle Help

I’d get stuck into Grey Larson’s "Essential Guide to Irish Flute and Tin Whistle".

It’s not perfect, but as good as you can get, I think, in a book.

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Re: Low Whistle Help

Listen, listen and listen some more. Play with like minded people.

Re: Low Whistle Help

You can create your own exercises: arpeggios, stairs to go up and down… I ceated my own.

Re: Low Whistle Help

Also do yourself a favour and take a class with a good whistle player at some point. If you picked up the whistle and started playing without any instructions, you probably have a couple of bad habits already, and these could really get in the way of your playing later on if you don’t get them fixed. I know from personal experience 🙂
You could try out a Skype lesson if you don’t have any players around.

Do you know about oaim.ie? It’s also worth a look.

Re: Low Whistle Help

The "listen, listen, listen" advice is sound.

And don’t limit your listening to whistle players. Listen to flute players and uilleann pipers too - they tend to play "whistle-friendly" tunes and settings and many play whistle too. When I started learning whistle I listened to a lot of:

- Liam O’Flynn (solo and as part of Planxty)
- Paddy Keenan (solo and as part of the Bothy Band)
- Matt Molloy (solo, as part of the Bothy Band, and in a few duo/trio recordings too)
- The duo of Mick O’Brien & Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh (you’ll need whistles in B and Bb to play along with their recordings, but they’re essential listening)
- The duo of Ronan Browne & Peadar O’Loughlin (again you’ll need, I think, a B whistle to play along)

And that’s only a handful of the musicians I listened to. Listening to those guys though will help you build up a solid repertoire of traditional tunes.

In terms of musicians who specifically play whistle, any aspiring whistle player in my opinion should listen to all of the following to hear how they approach the tunes, and get a taste of many very different styles of whistle playing:

Mary Bergin
A very influential and highly regarded player who I have often heard credited with helping the humble tin whistle gain more credibility as a ‘serious’ instrument in its own right. She has a few tutorial books too.

Donncha Ó Briain
Probably my personal favourite - a seriously stylish player who was a master of melodic variation within tunes, and by all accounts a great character too.

Micho Russell
Legendary Co. Clare player, sounds better the more you listen to him, so persevere if his music doesn’t quite grab you on first listen.

Jim Donaghue
A Co. Sligo player with an unorthodox sound and a very smooth ‘rolling’ legato way of playing and some interesting takes on tunes. You’ll have to dig around online to find recordings of his playing. As I understand it, he was a major influence on flute player Seamus Tansey.

Josie McDermott
I’m not sure whether he was from Sligo, Roscommon or Leitrim, but it was somewhere up around that area of the country. He had a very rhythmic traditional style, and has composed some great tunes that have become firmly implanted in the tradition. He played flute among other instruments as well, but his whistle playing is well worth a listen.

Tom McHale
A Roscommon man with a very playful, fun way of playing. He has an album out there that was apparently recorded while under the influence of alcohol if the stories are to be believed (I don’t know if that’s true!), and there are a couple of blogs/sites out there where you can find recordings of his playing.

Sean Ryan
A player with a great repertoire of tunes and a very unorthodox style of playing with lots and lots and lots of tonguing. I’m not sure I’d personally want to emulate his style with all that tonguing, but he’s a great and unique player who’s definitely worth a listen.

Willie Clancy
Best known as an uilleann piper, but a great whistle player too. He’s another one of those who you might not fully appreciate on a first listen, but the more I learn about this music the more I think he was a really huge influence on those who came after him.

I’m sure I have left out several important players there, but if you listened to all of those you’d get a good background in traditional Irish whistle playing. Out of the above list, only Mary Bergin and Sean Ryan are still living - either my tastes must be old fashioned, or they’re just not making whistle players like they used to 😀

Re: Low Whistle Help

Sean Ryan has been in great form at the current willie week - even visible at 8:45 am, most impressive

Re: Low Whistle Help

Thanks alot guys, that’s some great help.

I am particularly interested in the more contemporary style of whistle playing, but I am not at all stubborn towards the old stuff either.

Cheers guys, great help

x

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