Low D playing C#

Low D playing C#

Hello,
beeing very new to a low D whistle I couldn’t manage to hold the whistle when playing a C#.
All fingers off the holes, only the thumb behind and the flute is anywhere.
Could I have a hint to handle this?

Many thanks
Bernhard

Re: Low D playing C#

Hold the whistle by covering the bottom three holes with your right hand leaving the top three holes open.

Re: Low D playing C#

Leaving your pinkie on should be enough, but if necessary adding more fingers from the bottom up will make less of a difference to the pitch than your blowing pressure will.

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Re: Low D playing C#

Find a teacher.

Re: Low D playing C#

There’s probably YouTube videos which will show you what you want. Either tutorial videos, or just watch low whistlers playing tunes and wait to see what they’re doing for the C#.

Re: Low D playing C#

I have a whistle that is rather heavy so I put a non-slip sticker on the back where the thumb holds it. It helps keep it in place for the Cs.

Re: Low D playing C#

Thumb and little finger on the bottom hand is best practice perhaps but I find that keeping the bottom hand down and just opening the top holes is generally good enough.

Re: Low D playing C#

Thanks a lot for your helpful comments. I found another solution but I don’t know how to add a picture.
It’s a very strange solution.

Re: Low D playing C#

Tenor, Bass and Contrabass recorders have an L bracket (sometimes with a soft pad) attached to pick up support from the right thumb.

Re: Low D playing C#

You could put one or two thumb supports on the back using this stuff: https://sugru.com Easy to remove if you don’t like. Noticed recently on an MK pro that it had milled ridges at back for upper thumb to give that little bit of grip - I thought it was a nice touch. Susato whistles used to come with a little clip-on thumb rest of the type mentioned by Terry (see: http://www.thewhistleshop.com/catalog/whistles/accessories/thumbrests.htm)

Having said that - I think the problem will go away as you get more practice. Tijn Berends "find a teacher" advice is a good idea - better to get the technique right now rather than having to unlearn bad habits. The problem is likely more perceived than real once you are comfortable playing and up to speed with note passages.

Out of interest are you using pipers grip for either the left hand or right hand? For the Low-D I think the majority of players use pipers grip for the lower hand (Right Hand, I am assuming) and this tends to get the RH thumb better underneath also for support.

Happy low whistling!

Re: Low D playing C#

If you watch a number of whistle players (and flute players) you’ll begin noticing that there’s a variety of approaches to using "anchor fingers".

None of these approaches are any more "correct" than the others, just different. They all get the job done.

One way, and some very good players do this, is to keep the lower-hand little finger down on the whistle body at all times, for example (whistle mouthpiece is to the left)

xxx xxx x
xxx xxo x
xxx xoo x
xxx ooo x
xxo ooo x
xoo ooo x
ooo ooo x

To me this doesn’t give the lower-hand ring finger much freedom of motion (yet Matt Molloy does just fine) and you’ll see players have that lower-hand little finger up for E and sometimes also F# but down for G, A, B, and C#

xxx xxx o
xxx xxo o
xxx xoo o
xxx ooo x
xxo ooo x
xoo ooo x
ooo ooo x

Now many trad whistle players, especially from earlier generations (before Low Whistles appeared) would use the lower-hand ring finger as the anchor, thus:

xxx xxx
xxx xxo
xxx xoo
xxx oox
xxo oox
xoo oox *
ooo oox

Watch Mary Bergin (and many others) to see this in action.

* But! On most/all Low D whistles if you play High B

xoo oox

High B won’t speak easily, sometimes not at all, and/or have a harsh tone.

I often use that lower-hand ring finger anchor but I have to keep that finger clear, and use my lower-hand little finger instead, on Low Whistles.

About thumb-rests, traditional players especially ones coming from flute or pipes wouldn’t think of such a thing. Thumb-rests come from the non-trad world, from the clarinet and sax world, where they make sense because those instruments are hundreds of times heavier than whistles.

There are Low Whistles heavy enough to need support, either thumb-rests or neck-straps, and that’s solid brass ones. I had a "Chieftain Gold" which is a solid brass Low D whistle with thick walls like the alloy Chieftains. It was very heavy for a whistle, and I used a Bari Sax neck strap to support it. (The strap had a plastic clip that could be clipped onto the bell of the whistle.)

Re: Low D playing C#

I sometimes hold the whistle horizontally, straight out from the mouth, resting on both tumbs. This frees the fingers to play as on a keyboard with no holding involved. I don’t know when or on what tunes I do this as it seems to occur naturally - maybe on tunes with a lot of Cs.