Where have you taken your whistle?

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Greenfire
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Tell us something.: I'm learning how to play the whistle, maybe one day I can branch out to another instrument. I'd love to learn the pipes, but I can only afford a whistle!

Where have you taken your whistle?

Post by Greenfire »

This fits in with a big part of the reason why I chose whistle instead of any of the other multitude of instruments I could learn, so story time.

A year ago, I moved with my husband way to the middle of nowhere and found that I couldn't really find a job locally in my field or really any, without moving to online work. With the virus disrupting plans to change fields by trying something in person, I decided that if we're here for the next 5 years (till said husband retires) then I better spend my time wisely by picking up some new skills. With no virus, I probably would have simply been hiking, but travel is frowned upon.

I figured, that because when the world works normally, we really DO love to hike, or camp in remote areas where electricity isn't available, then entertaining ourselves might be a worthwhile skill to pick up. We already spend nights around the campfire making up our own ditties, along the lines of the "Irish Drinking Song" from "Whose Line is that Anyway." (my pardon to anyone who takes offence)

I thought, why not a whistle? Then I can put one in my pocket even when I do long distance hikes... they weigh next to nothing, and are cheap enough that if I break or lose one, then I can replace it with no great trouble. Plus, I have really nothing to do all day so can spend hours listening to music, learning tunes, and then playing, 5 years from now, I should be decent!

Now I have this dream that once we DO retire, we'll be travelling around in our Airstream, pulling up to a remote area with nothing but solar power, and pull out our instruments to play. (the fact that I think I just had a job fall into my lap doesn't change my 5 year mission though)


So, please tell me stories of where you have gone with your whistle? Mountain climbing? Middle of the ocean? To pubs all around the land? Planes, trains and automobiles? What are some of your fave travel stories?
fatmac
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Re: Where have you taken your whistle?

Post by fatmac »

My whistles, (flutes/piccolos), are bigger than my harmonicas, (chromatic/tremolo/diatonic), which fit into a pocket more readily, but I did take a keyless piccolo out on one of my walks once, but as I didn't actually play it, haven't bothered to again. :D
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trill
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Re: Where have you taken your whistle?

Post by trill »

Nice question !

In my "active" years whistling, I took my virtually-indestructible Susato D everywhere: vacations, dayhikes, camping, the Grand Canyon.

My most memorable occasion was hiking a cave with a fellow dancer. The cave was in a state park and was large enough to accommodate groups of visitors, all standing/walking. Well, I pulled out the whistle and played "St. Anne's Reel". The echos in the cave gave the sound a magnificent shimmering quality ! I got lots of warm+friendly comments from our fellow-visitors !

trill
Dan A.
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Re: Where have you taken your whistle?

Post by Dan A. »

Compared to the Grand Canyon, my destination is downright mundane...but I did take a Clarke Sweetone when I had an appointment at the VA a couple of days ago. Before I left, I played some quick tunes in the parking garage.
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TxWhistler
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Tell us something.: I have recently retired and have always wanted to learn to play a musical instrument. I've recently purchased a high D whistle and I'm learning to play it. I've only had it for 3 weeks and have enjoyed learning to play it so much that I've ordered a low D whistle. I found this forum and believe I could learn a lot from it. I've been reading the various threads and would like to ask my own questions from time to time. I'd also like to contribute to this forum in the future as my knowledge and playing ability grows. (May 26, 2020)
Location: Tyler, Texas

Re: Where have you taken your whistle?

Post by TxWhistler »

I have 38 acres of land about 40 minutes from my house that I try to go to 3 or 4 times a month to fish and do other outdoor activities. It's been in my family since the late 1890's. I have taken one of my high D whistles there and sat on the tailgate of my pickup truck and played for a little while.

When I get here the stress of the day just seems to fade away:
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brianholton
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Re: Where have you taken your whistle?

Post by brianholton »

About 25 years ago, I was working as a tour manager on a Kuoni package tour to S. America. One of my passengers, from Aberdeen, had won medals for Highland dancing in her youth. When we got to Machu Picchu, we were staying in the lodge at the gates of the site, and had access to it after dark, so a few of us went in after dinner to see the stars, and I ended up playing for the lady to dance, right in the middle of Machu Picchu.
It would be a Generation d' I was playing, and we certainly did some reels and hornpipes though I can't remember which ones.
During the 90s I led many tours to China for Kuoni, stopping almost every time at the big cave system in Guilin, where there was a spot at which I played for my passengers and any one else around. It had a fabulous acoustic, too. But the last time I went the management had set up a cheap sound system and were playing cheesy tapes of Dizi music (the Chinese bamboo flute).

I lived 10 years in Hong Kong, played in a ceilidh band there, also did a couple of gigs in Hanoi with them.

I have a Dixon d Plus, which breaks down into 3 parts, so it fits in a shirt pocket. I carry it wherever I go, and I've played it in sessions all through Europe, in Montreal, Vancouver Island, Santa Barbara, California, north Vermont, New York City, Ann Arbor, as well as playing on beaches, in bars, on castles, just about anywhere. I've gigged in Italy, too.

Live long enough, and many things will happen to you.

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RoberTunes
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Re: Where have you taken your whistle?

Post by RoberTunes »

Comment: the original post reminds me of why I took up ukulele. Whistle is a follow-through of already playing flute and occasionally some harmonica. Ukulele was a variation on playing guitar; I didn't want to risk damage to my acoustic guitar, or carry around the bulk and weight of it. So I bought a $40 ukulele and loved it. Very funny instrument. I started investigating harmonicas about the same time I started learning about whistles. I went through a few of each that were a cut above the standard types sold in corporate music instrument stores and whistles and harmonicas are here to stay.

Locations:
1) I prefer to practice in the protected outdoor entrance of a local high school, out of the wind and with no houses within ear shot. If it's really warm, I sometimes go onto the football field, and I've practiced whistle and tenor and high recorder on the bleachers there and I think that's my favorite (roasting hot sunshine and music). I've been trying to compose a suite of recorder music there, and local things are inspiring, as well as the isolation. Also, I find seagulls put up with anything at a safe distance and tend to find the more curious human behaviors something they come around to investigate, so I often have a seagull audience about 100 feet away.
2) benches along the river. Nothing like going for a bike ride, stopping at a nice bench riverside and playing some long winding phrases and steady rhythmic music within 10 feet of the river, listening to the water noises, birds, wind, etc. Something about the location gives me great relaxation and allows me to get into the theta/alpha mind state I need to get creative, and after a nice bike ride to get there I've got the energy moving.
3) I've taken instruments into the mountains but I forget them until I get back to the car or trailhead. There is a higher chance of wanting to play whistle while up a mountain than harmonica, there's something more serene and uplifted about a high whistle, than a harmonica, but that's debatable. Whistle ON the mountain, harmonica on the picnic table later.
4) any place with natural reverb. This could be a large gym or auditorium, a large lobby, a rock cavern, a large room with nothing in it. Some types of long-return reverb are entrancing.
Katharine
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Re: Where have you taken your whistle?

Post by Katharine »

I can't say I traveled much with my whistle-- wasn't usually in a place conducive to music practice {usually cities in close quarters with other people} nor had a bunch of downtime {was too busy trying to see everything I wanted to see in the place, and was also usually with others so not much of a chance to wander off by myself and noodle around with music}-- but there were a few times I played on my balcony in Bangkok (with the traffic on the street, and the construction site across the street, I didn't imagine it would be that invasive to my neighbors) though I didn't really play elsewhere during my time there. And I did take my whistle with me on a trip to Scotland; I have photos and video of me playing Loch Lomond on the banks of the very same. That was fun. :)

As far as now that I'm stuck back in the U.S.... well, I don't get to travel anymore so around town is it. I often have a whistle in my work backpack when I have to go to the office, in case I decide to play in my car, but I rarely do; by the time I leave in the evening I don't want to hang around. During the summer, the poor people living near, and trying to use, the local parks were stuck listening to my whistle and recorder practice since I can't do it at home; that's right out now that the weather is cold though and I'll have to wait until it warms up again to really do any playing. If I anticipate being somewhere I have to wait in my car, I might take the whistle and practice, but I feel pretty self-conscious about it.

I too enjoy that the whistle is so easily-portable.
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Wha's like us?
Damn few--
And they're a' deid--
Mair's the pity.
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An Draighean
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Re: Where have you taken your whistle?

Post by An Draighean »

The first Generation D I ever bought used to go with me everywhere, in a coat pocket. I practiced at bus stops while waiting for the next bus. Even had the odd impromptu session on a bus. The occupying forces didn't like it; when I was frisked they would sometimes find it and (I guess) think it was the barrel of a pistol or some such. It got dented from being thrown around and etc., but still played fine. Since then, it's been camping, backpacking, and general travel most of the time. I don't carry it now as often as I used to, for one thing it's gone a bit out of tune over time and the head on this one won't come off. But another Generation D that is in tune sits on my (home) work space, and goes in my pipe case everywhere they go.
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bigsciota
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Re: Where have you taken your whistle?

Post by bigsciota »

I bought a Dixon two piece polymer a couple years ago that fits very nicely in my front pocket when disassembled. It’s a sweet little whistle, and it comes with me everywhere. As a radio host, I work in a soundproof studio, so in between announcing breaks you’ll sometimes find me running through a tune or three.

It’s also been to the Andes for a total eclipse, all over Ireland, and if I’m feeling lazy while fishing I’ll just throw out some bait (as opposed to a lure or fly) and sit and play while waiting. The muskrats are sometimes a little intrigued, but the birds don’t care. Doesn’t seem to bother the fish. Also not a bad busking whistle in a pinch, although it doesn’t have a very strong low octave.
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Re: Where have you taken your whistle?

Post by Katharine »

bigsciota wrote:I bought a Dixon two piece polymer a couple years ago that fits very nicely in my front pocket when disassembled. It’s a sweet little whistle, and it comes with me everywhere. As a radio host, I work in a soundproof studio, so in between announcing breaks you’ll sometimes find me running through a tune or three.

It’s also been to the Andes for a total eclipse, all over Ireland, and if I’m feeling lazy while fishing I’ll just throw out some bait (as opposed to a lure or fly) and sit and play while waiting. The muskrats are sometimes a little intrigued, but the birds don’t care. Doesn’t seem to bother the fish. Also not a bad busking whistle in a pinch, although it doesn’t have a very strong low octave.
That reminds me that I played for some horses just outside of Houston, Scotland. They all really liked The Dark Island-- they all came over closer to the fence-- but lost interest when I switched tunes. The cows I passed later didn't care one way or the other. :lol:
Here's tae us--
Wha's like us?
Damn few--
And they're a' deid--
Mair's the pity.
Krasnojarsk
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Re: Where have you taken your whistle?

Post by Krasnojarsk »

I played Sliabh na mBan on my Burke in the midst of the seemingly endless expanse of the Blue Mountains last year. No-one around for miles except for two good friends. That was pretty damn special (also, hi Greenfire, this is Pwllkin from the Other Place).
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Mr.Gumby
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Re: Where have you taken your whistle?

Post by Mr.Gumby »

Live long enough, and many things will happen to you.
Exadctly. We get in all sorts of scrapes and situations eventually.


Whistle is my stealth option. I usually don't tell people I play music and to carry a whistle, in a pocket or a ca,mera bag, makes it easier to keep a low profile than carrying a case with a full set of pipes that will attract all sorts of attention. During my teens and early twenties I didn't mind where or what I played and who would hear it. During the course of my life I have become increasingly reluctant to play 'out'. Carrying the whistle in the bag has the option to leave it in or take it out and find a quiet corner when the company is good and the time and place right for a few tunes.

I am not one to take out the whistle and play 'The Cliffs of Moher' when I am on the Cliffs of Moher. During the lockdown in the spring I have sat outside on occasion, enjoying the sunshine while we had it and played a few tunes. Overall memories of playing would be more connected with people and only to a lesser extend with places.

A few nice memories of times and places though, travelling with Micho Russell on a Dutch commuter train in 1986 after playing a festival in Dordrecht and due to play a spot for radio and a concert in north eastern Belgium. Micho wasn't shy to take the whistle out, no matter what the setting.

Playing the Sunday nights in Gleeson's of Coore for years from the nineties into the naughties for the dancers or just for the sake of it. Many's a wild night indeed. Or a concert in Bantry house some fifteen years ago as part of the 'Masters of Tradition' festival, what a setting for it. Many more occasions that stand out but these were special, for one reason or another.
Last edited by Mr.Gumby on Sat Nov 28, 2020 12:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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pancelticpiper
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Re: Where have you taken your whistle?

Post by pancelticpiper »

Greenfire wrote:
please tell me stories of where you have gone with your whistle? Mountain climbing? Middle of the ocean? To pubs all around the land? Planes, trains and automobiles? What are some of your fave travel stories?
Our most common vehicular situation here is playing on boats at sea. I live close to the Pacific and a local industry is doing cruises, bay cruises or cruises that venture a bit out into the open water. People here hire boats for their special events.

On a number of occasions our Irish trio has played for wedding cruises. They're weddings where no-one can be late, and no-one can leave early! Everybody is stuck on the boat the whole ceremony and reception.

As a solo piper I've done quite a few weddings and also many funerals, where they scatter the ashes at sea.

The most memorable piping boat gig sticks in the memory for all the wrong reasons. We have a tradition here, around Christmas everybody covers their boats with Christmas lights and cruises around the harbour. There must be thousands of boats from huge multimilliondollar yachts to kayaks.

Image

One year a boat owner hired me to stand at the prow of his boat and play the pipes as we circled the harbour in a vortex of festive craft.

I did two unfortunate things: 1) I noticed that his boat was named Wings 2) I mentioned to the boat owner that there is a pipe tune named Wings.

The owner got all excited that there was such a pipe tune, and requested that I play it...and play it...and play it...

It was the only thing I played the rest of the gig.

Had Mr Gumby played Cliffs Of Moher at the Cliffs Of Moher, and word of the tune's title spread among the crowds of tourists, he might have endured a similar fate. But he wisely kept his whistle in his pocket.

As far as travel goes, I played at a number of events with a pipe band in Scotland and did a tour with an Irish trad group in Japan.

Here we are playing in George Square, Glasgow.

Image

I did bring a whistle, and played at a couple trad sessions there in Glasgow.

When I've travelled to Scotland or Ireland purely as a tourist on holiday I've left my instruments at home.
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Greenfire
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Tell us something.: I'm learning how to play the whistle, maybe one day I can branch out to another instrument. I'd love to learn the pipes, but I can only afford a whistle!

Re: Where have you taken your whistle?

Post by Greenfire »

Krasnojarsk wrote:(also, hi Greenfire, this is Pwllkin from the Other Place).
Hiya back! :D

I love hearing these stories, and pics make it even better! I'm also thinking of a ton more questions to ask for stories from people here!

I have taken my whistle to the local dog park so far, and played for my dogs, but do plan to take it on travels in the future!

I LOVE the comment, "Live long enough, and many things will happen to you." Have to add hopefully the good outweighs the bad for everyone!
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