Saliva buildup is still ruining my whistle playing. Suggestions for when to swallow in a tune?

Saliva buildup is still ruining my whistle playing. Suggestions for when to swallow in a tune?

I don’t know why when I bring this up everyone says I have a ‘medical condition’. Salivation is a natural effect of putting something in your mouth.

The time I need to swallow will be just around the end of first round of a 2 part tune and starting the next.

I read in cotter’s book that you shouldn’t do puases at the end of parts of tune because they have ‘valuable linking notes’ or something like that.

With jigs there seems more space to get a quick swallow in without interrupting the flow however reels I am finding it harder.

I have been trying to work it in as an ornament like one would with breaths but I seem to need 3 quarter notes or so to do it. I still haven’t got it where it doesn’t ruin the flow yet but I am thinking maybe with practice I can.

I have been trying to just do a single note on first note of the second play of the tune leaving the 3 quarter notes since that seemed a good opportunity. Sounds ‘ok’ but needs practice.

Is it really that bad to not interrupt at the end of parts? I have heard players breath alot there even masters like orlaith.

Re: Saliva buildup is still ruining my whistle playing. Suggestions for when to swallow in a tune?

I forgot to mention that I have started playing a little in sessions lately and this is really destroying my ability to play smoothly (among other things but this is the main problem) because if I am leading a set I am constantly having to interrupt periodically.

Re: Saliva buildup is still ruining my whistle playing. Suggestions for when to swallow in a tune?

I had this problem too. I changed my whistle and that actually worked. I tried a lot, founding the same problem in lot of i struments. My pals have no problem playing the whistles in wich I spent a lot of money and I find unplayable. I currently play with at the sessions a Desy Seery whistle, and I practice at home with a Killarney and a Parks whistles. I think they suits well with saliva problems (after a lot of searching)
Cheers and good luck finding your instrument!

Re: Saliva buildup is still ruining my whistle playing. Suggestions for when to swallow in a tune?

I don’t see what difference that would make. It still goes in your mouth. I have tried 3- dixon, faedog and generation and no different.

Re: Saliva buildup is still ruining my whistle playing. Suggestions for when to swallow in a tune?

Put as little of the whistle as possible in your mouth. As a recorder player I never swallow saliva but the mouthpiece is not really inside my mouth.

You could try playing a wooden whistle. The wood absorbs the saliva to some extent. You would need several whistles and would have to play several instruments as recorder players do. One wooden recorder is only used for an absolute maximum of 1 hour’s playing in any 24 hour period so I take three or four to a session. The instrument must be left in the air to dry after use. (I checked before I typed this that wooden whistles exist. They do, but they are more like £200 whistles than penny whistles: http://www.milliganwhistles.com). You might have to play the instrument in over a period of weeks and you might have to oil it occasionally. You would need to follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

You could also point your whistle more downwards and blow harder. The saliva shoots out the bottom.

Re: Saliva buildup is still ruining my whistle playing. Suggestions for when to swallow in a tune?

And - and this is important and I don’t know how I could have forgotten it - do not eat or drink anything sweet when playing. I have made the mistake of getting orange juice at a session. Stick to drinking beer or water.

Re: Saliva buildup is still ruining my whistle playing. Suggestions for when to swallow in a tune?

The mouthpiece is different in each whistle type. The dixon’s are narrow. I had two. I have also a Milligan, and I still have the same problem. I’m still thinking that is a technique issue, my fault, but it don’t solve the problem. Changing the instrument does. If you don’t want to spend much money, try a Susato. Not my favourite, but I’ve never experienced saliva issues in them.

Re: Saliva buildup is still ruining my whistle playing. Suggestions for when to swallow in a tune?

Yeah but Arthur, you don’t put a whistle in your mouth per se. You only insert the mouthpiece a little between your lips. It’s not like sucking a lollipop.

Some whistles clog more easily than others. I have a Killarney which is more inclined to clog but all others are basically OK, including Dixon and Generations.

Re: Saliva buildup is still ruining my whistle playing. Suggestions for when to swallow in a tune?

I doubt the excess saliva is being produced only at whistling time. I’d advise looking at ways to increase your overall health. Proper hydration, diet, exercise, oral hygiene etc.

Personally, I’ve found that avoiding all sugars and drinking plenty of water consistently (3+quarts daily with my physical job) to be the biggest help.

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Re: Saliva buildup is still ruining my whistle playing. Suggestions for when to swallow in a tune?

Or take up the flute, which probably won’t trigger that kind of saliva production because your lips aren’t touching anything (except each other). Any moisture introduced to the flute aside from normal condensation will just drip out the end. Or can be "blown out" with a hard puff of air and the tone holes closed.

Arthur, you’ve mentioned earlier that you have trouble with the piercing volume of the second octave on whistle. Switching to flute would solve that, and you’ve already got the fingering. The breathing issues are basically the same. Once you have a good embouchure, you won’t need more air than you’re using on whistle (especially if you’re overblowing). Of course, it’s another mountain to climb with embouchure development, which won’t happen overnight. Might take a year or two. Flutes are more expensive than whistles too, but a good entry-level "Irish" flute in a synthetic material doesn’t have to cost a fortune.

Anyway, just a thought, since you seem to be having many issues with whistles that a flute might resolve.

Re: Saliva buildup is still ruining my whistle playing. Suggestions for when to swallow in a tune?

Smoke a little pot before you play to dry up your mouth!

Re: Saliva buildup is still ruining my whistle playing. Suggestions for when to swallow in a tune?

Arthur’s posts are great. The Divinely Appointed King of the Windup!

Re: Saliva buildup is still ruining my whistle playing. Suggestions for when to swallow in a tune?

[Yeah but Arthur, you don’t put a whistle in your mouth per se. You only insert the mouthpiece a little between your lips. It’s not like sucking a lollipop.]

Never heard of a fella named pavlov?

No suggestions that are suitable to me thus far. £200 for a whistle which may or may not solve the issue.

Not interested in flute. I took the whistle over fiddle for its compact nature.

I already have a very healthy diet and lifestyle. Can’t people just accept that some people naturally will drool more than others?

Re: Saliva buildup is still ruining my whistle playing. Suggestions for when to swallow in a tune?

Pavlov - well train your mind then man. When you stick the whistle between your lips think about anything except the substance of life.

Re: Saliva buildup is still ruining my whistle playing. Suggestions for when to swallow in a tune?

People who "naturally drool more than others" should maybe play banjos.



Actually, now that I think of it…………… :)

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Re: Saliva buildup is still ruining my whistle playing. Suggestions for when to swallow in a tune?

"Not interested in flute. I took the whistle over fiddle for its compact nature."

For playing or travel? Have you seen the size of a flute when taken apart in a case? It’s no bigger than the typical roll-up bag of whistles most people carry to sessions. Anyway, you seem to have your mind made up there, so good luck with the various anhydrous suggestions.

Re: Saliva buildup is still ruining my whistle playing. Suggestions for when to swallow in a tune?

I don’t have a particular answer to the excess saliva problem but I do have a suggestion about breathing. Jack Coen the late Galway flute player taught me the places to breathe are by skipping the second or third notes of a group of four eighth notes in a reel or a hornpipe or the middle note of a cluster of three in a jig, or, where you have a quarter or dotted quarter note. You do it by feel where appropriate. I think it’s a mistake to skip the first note of a group of four in most situations because the emphasis is usually on it, and the fourth note in a set is a kind of link. There’s no firm and fast rule though.

Re: Saliva buildup is still ruining my whistle playing. Suggestions for when to swallow in a tune?

Yes I knew about the rule never drop the main beat note.

I was thinking maybe take a packet of crackers around.

Peanuts are always at the ready in pubs too.

I could do with an equivalent of antiperspirant for the mouth. I am off to search de net.

Just read lime as another one.

Re: Saliva buildup is still ruining my whistle playing. Suggestions for when to swallow in a tune?

Thank you Arthur for making me think!

Re: Saliva buildup is still ruining my whistle playing. Suggestions for when to swallow in a tune?

Incidentally, I have the same problem when singing.

Re: Saliva buildup is still ruining my whistle playing. Suggestions for when to swallow in a tune?

You seem to have an association problem. Like when some people need to pee when the tap is running. You salivate when something is in your mouth, whether food or not. Maybe get used to having something in your mouth that is not food, like a toothpick, for long periods and you might not salivate so much as there is no food coming forth. Your mouth might decrease it’s salivation.
Just a suggestion.

Re: Saliva buildup is still ruining my whistle playing. Suggestions for when to swallow in a tune?

Only one person has addressed what I was asking in the OP.

I was asking if there are any ways to creatively slip it in as an ornament of some sort while playing the tune, or where the best place would be to do it without interfereing with the flow.

Re: Saliva buildup is still ruining my whistle playing. Suggestions for when to swallow in a tune?

You could put some margarita salt on the fipple, and lick a bit from time to time to dehydrate yourself. You’d be the hit of the session with this tasty condiment, too. Or point the whistle skyward and let the saliva drain naturally down your esophagus. I don’t think a big noisy slurp will ever work as an ornament, sorry.

Re: Saliva buildup is still ruining my whistle playing. Suggestions for when to swallow in a tune?

I can’t even…. Can’t you use a towel or something?

Re: Saliva buildup is still ruining my whistle playing. Suggestions for when to swallow in a tune?

Just keep a ball of really dry bread in your mouth, or a sponge.
That, or blow harder.

Re: Saliva buildup is still ruining my whistle playing. Suggestions for when to swallow in a tune?

If you listen to flute players, they take a quick break from blowing every so often to allow them to breathe in (they don’t really have an inexhaustible air supply provided by a bellows up their bums!) You could use your quick swallow technique in the same way - ie where they breathe, you swallow. Is this possible?

Re: Saliva buildup is still ruining my whistle playing. Suggestions for when to swallow in a tune?

Arthur, I have two practical suggestions.

My first is to rinse some of the saliva from your mouth before you begin playing each tune. Instead of trying to dry out your mouth just drink some water and swallow it. It is an effective way to reduce/remove the excess moisture and saliva in your mouth.

My second suggestion is to weigh the value of which responses are based on solid information and experience and which are based on limited information and/or experience.

Here are some replies I’ve gleaned which I think you might want to weigh their value whether it is helpful for yourself or not. (I realise the following quotations are out of context. I did this purposefully to emphasise the bits which stand out to me in the replies. But in fairness to my fellow members the value of their replies should be weighed based on the full content and context of their replies; not just the quotes as they are listed here.

"I doubt the excess saliva is being produced only at whistling time."

"…take up the flute, which probably won’t trigger that kind of saliva production."

"Smoke a little pot before you play…"

"…use a towel or something?"

"Just keep a ball of really dry bread in your mouth."

"…flute players… (they don’t really have… a bellows up their bums!)

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Re: Saliva buildup is still ruining my whistle playing. Suggestions for when to swallow in a tune?

Ebor are you implying that flute players breath differently than whistle players? I would have thought it is just the same in terms of the places they breath. I guess you aren’t either or you would have known that?

I see I am on my own in terms of finding a practical solution to this. I have been making progress anyway. I have been recording myself alongside a metronome to check I am not going out and doing it after the first beat of the second round of a tune which takes 3 quarter notes.

For example look here on his second run https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=luBOBQyL59g ciaran tourish uses a long note for 3 notes, so I am doing the same on reels with a pause after the beat note.

Re: Saliva buildup is still ruining my whistle playing. Suggestions for when to swallow in a tune?

[I guess you aren’t either or you would have known that?] Didn’t mean that in a snarky way btw. I am genuinely curious, ie if you are either and I had missed something- I know I haven’t paid too much but from what I have heard the breathing spots are the same for both.

Re: Saliva buildup is still ruining my whistle playing. Suggestions for when to swallow in a tune?

Sorry - I’d never thought to compare the two? Yes, you are right, now I consider. Oh, well - we live and learn! :)

Re: Saliva buildup is still ruining my whistle playing. Suggestions for when to swallow in a tune?

Move to a desert . Come to think of it, take a few more whistullers with you

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Re: Saliva buildup is still ruining my whistle playing. Suggestions for when to swallow in a tune?

Hi Arthur, I too used to have this problem, and not just when playing the whistle or flute. My dentist nicknamed me The Fountain! He also said it was a sign of good health. Take heart, you will get this under your control, but it will take a while. The suggestion to blow a little harder is good to prevent buildup. I found Generation style whistles not good as the saliva gathered in the mouthpiece, eventually stopping the notes. I use a Dixon now, the shape of the mouthpiece is better for this problem. Leading a set of tunes on a wind instrument is more complicated than for string players, it takes a while to get past the breathing and saliva problem, and being anxious about these things while you’re playing only makes it worse.
You did mention peanuts in one of your comments. Eating is the worst thing you can do when playing a wind instrument!

Re: Saliva buildup is still ruining my whistle playing. Suggestions for when to swallow in a tune?

Hi archivist thanks for a reasonable comment and not a juvenile one which I have come to expect from this and the other threads I have found on the session posted in that past on the same subject :).

I think it is like other problems where those who haven’t suffered the plight think it is all fun and games.