5 first steps to start playing our Feadog Irish Whistle
by Joao Ferreira
The idea to write about these 5 tips came from the number of comments that I have seen on our social media regarding to the beginning of playing a tin whistle. So, I research and talked to some tin whistlers and I assembled these 5 steps.
1- Choosing the correct Feadog Whistle
Make sure you have the Feadog whistle tuned in the key of D, (your tin whistle should have the letter D written on it). This is the most common type of whistle. We have many D Whistles in our website: Brass D, Nickle D and the coloured ones (pink, red, black, green and blue).
2- How to hold the Feadog Whistle
There are six holes on the Feadog Whistle. The first three fingers of each hand are used to cover the holes. The little fingers are not used by either hand. Different notes are produced by covering various combinations of these holes as you blow through the instrument. The following photo demonstrates the basic playing position. Notice that the left hand is above the right.
3- Playing your first note on the Feadog Whistle
The first note you will learn to play is the B note (the first hole after the mouthpiece). Place your fingers in position to play the note and put the tip of the mouthpiece into your mouth. Use your lips to seal off any air from escaping out the sides of your mouth and blow smoothly and steadily into the tin whistle. Don’t blow too hard or start the note too suddenly, or you may cause the note to sound at the wrong pitch or cause the instrument to squeak.
To control the beginning and end of a note, the technique of tonguing is used. To prepare for this technique whisper the sound “taa”. The sound begins with your tongue sitting behind your top teeth, blocking the passage of air, and you make the “taa” sound by quickly withdrawing it, letting a stream of air begin from your outgoing breath.
The next step is to practice this with the Feadog Whistle in position to play a B note, with your tongue lightly on the hole in the mouthpiece. As you withdraw your tongue, the note will have a well articulated beginning. The “t” part of the sound gives the note a definite starting point, and the “aa” part of the sound keeps your throat open so that the flow of air remains constant and the note sounds even. To end the note, you put your tongue back on the mouthpiece rather than stopping your breath. This will end the note as crisply as it started. It is worth practicing the tonguing technique many times on a single note until you are comfortable with it.
5- Breathing technique when playing the Feadog Whistle
When learning any wind instrument, it is important to learn how to take a new breath without losing your timing. Take a quick, deep breath, and be careful not to lose your timing when you breathe. Counting as you play should help you become more confident with this.
I believe after these 5 steps, you will get inspired to start and learn how to play our Feadog Whistles. Browse our website and look for the one that suits you. If you are already a player becomes our fan visiting our Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to be aware of tips and further information.