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PostPosted: Wed Jan 24, 2018 11:24 am 
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At what age did you start playing/ learning the tin whistle ? did you have any previous musical background?Did you learn to read music first or learn mostly by ear?
lets hear some of your starting tales and where you are today . Inspiration if you will for the newbies that visit the forum.


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 24, 2018 3:44 pm 
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I had whistles as a boy (collected a full set of red-top Generations) alongside recorder, flute and piano, but rather guessed at style in the absence of proper guidance and didn't really start to learn more idiomatically till I was in my mid-20s. That's decades ago and it's probably not delusional to consider myself a decent player now, but I'm still capable of being awful for various reasons... like tonight, when I went to a primary school Burns Supper without my whistles, was stupidly tempted to play after all, and had to make do with one we dug out of a drawer!

Edit: oh, reading or playing by ear? Both, actually: I was a fluent music reader long before I got serious about whistle, but you need to use your ear too. It's not necessary to read to play whistle, but not a badge of honour to be unable and/or decry reading as bad for you. Reading alone is useless if you know nothing about performing conventions/style, but you need ears to make the most of written music in any genre, and the ability to read can never hurt if you've got them, use them and aren't thirled to the page.

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Master of nine?


Last edited by Peter Duggan on Wed Jan 24, 2018 4:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 24, 2018 3:52 pm 
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I was 31 or 32 when I first picked up a whistle. After it sat almost completely unused for many years, I got serious about it at 39. I have no previous musical background and cannot read music...therefore, I learn by using fingering notations. I can play around a dozen tunes convincingly, and should be adding a few more in the days to come.

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Whistle No.1: Walton's Irish, soprano D
Whistle No. 2: green Feadóg Original, soprano D


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 24, 2018 5:37 pm 
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Welcome, Mera!

I was maybe 20 when I first played whistle (and first encountered Irish traditional music); that whistle was a gift from a college friend who studied abroad in Galway. At that point, I already played (classical) flute, which I started in school, and I was self-taught on guitar and electric bass. I got serious about the whistle and Irish music a few years later, in my mid-20s.

The whistle struck me as special partly because of what a perfect idiomatic fit it is for Irish music; learning one has been inextricably tied to learning the other. (That's not to say other types of music can't be played on the whistle.)

Learning Irish music turned out to be excellent ear training, and it also really strengthened my internal sense of time and rhythm; those skills have carried over to other instruments and styles of music. So having prior musical training certainly helped when learning the whistle, but playing the whistle has also made a significant contribution to my overall development as a musician.

(P.S. If you're just starting out on whistle, I think this is one of the best resources available: http://www.rogermillington.com/siamsa/brosteve/)


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 24, 2018 5:49 pm 
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tin tin wrote:
I was self-taught on guitar and electric bass.

When I was in my twenties, I bought three different guitars intending to teach myself how to play them. I have none of them today.

I am much more motivated to learn the whistle, and all things considered, it's come to me with relative ease. The whistle also has the advantage of having only two parts. I can remember the aggravation of trying to get a guitar in tune, only to crank the machine head hard enough to break the string!

I am still working on learning/training by ear, but my ears are at least good enough that I know by sound if I am playing a particular note in a tune incorrectly.

It is true that one is not limited to playing Irish music on the whistle. By working through the tutorial book that came with my Feadóg, I have learned not only Irish tunes, but also English, American, German, and French tunes in addition to those identified merely as "traditional."

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Whistle No.1: Walton's Irish, soprano D
Whistle No. 2: green Feadóg Original, soprano D


Last edited by Dan A. on Wed Jan 24, 2018 8:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 24, 2018 5:56 pm 
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I was 24 or 25, now about to be 39. I spent my teens playing saxophone which gave me a HUGE head start.


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 24, 2018 9:02 pm 
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46, been playing solid since October 2017. Zero musical background but lots of love for Irish music and keen as hell to get reasonable.


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 24, 2018 11:02 pm 
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I guess it must have been my early 20s. I played recorder in my teens, and then really got into the English folk revival: Pentangle, Fairport Convention, John Rebourn, etc. I played recorder before whistle, but I can't say that I was ever a good musician or intuitive player. I quit for 20 years, and came back a few years ago with more enthusiasm and discipline. Maybe now I am starting to be more intuitive.

I still have my Generation D and Eb from the mid-seventies. Love my Killarney.

I'm learning flute, which is a step back before two steps forward.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 25, 2018 8:13 am 
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I love threads like this, where people's various backstories are heard. Goes to show that many paths can lead to a similar place.

I started on Highland pipes at the age of 17 in 1974. By 1976-1977 I had taken up Irish flute and uilleann pipes.

I began acquiring whistles at that time, but I never took the whistle very seriously. They were merely an adjunct to playing pipes and flute.

My respect for whistles went up a great deal around 1980 when I met Chris Moran, who became my teacher and mentor. Though a very good fluteplayer, he was playing an early Overton Low D as his primary instrument. It was the first Low Whistle I had seen. We started a little band in which I played flute and he played his Overton, along with a couple string guys (guitar and bouzouki).

About reading music, being a Highland piper I knew the basics, and when I started learning uilleann pipes I learned to read ordinary sheet music (Highland pipe sheet music has its quirks).

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1978 Quinn uilleann pipes
1945 Starck Highland pipes
Goldie Low D whistle


Last edited by pancelticpiper on Fri Jan 26, 2018 3:16 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 25, 2018 9:22 am 
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Had a year of piano lessons as a kid. Played a bit of harmonica when I was 17 or 18. Plinked around on piano some at 24. Never anything serious. At 28, i took up irish fiddle seriously. Got my first whistle a year later. Whistle was my secondary instrument for 11 of the last dozen years. Health problems have interfered with my ability to play fiddle, so I have been doing a lot more whistle lately. Never was much good with the dots, so mostly avoid them unless I absolutely need them.

Have a practice uilleann set and still trying to decide if I want to (and have the ability to) get serious with them.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 25, 2018 12:22 pm 
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awildman wrote:
Never was much good with the dots, so mostly avoid them unless I absolutely need them.

By "dots," do you mean the diagrams that indicate which holes to cover and which to leave uncovered?

pancelticpiper wrote:
I love threads like this, where people's various backstories are heard. Goes to show that many paths can lead to a similar place.

My backstory has one more bit that may be interesting. While I may never recall with certainty the first time I heard a tin whistle, I remember the first time I saw one. It was aboard USS Peleliu, during WESTPAC 2006. I was walking by the space to which my buddy Wesley was temporarily assigned, and he was playing a tin whistle. I can remember liking the way it sounded, even though I'm pretty sure Wesley was not a master of the instrument at that time.

Wesley went into an undermanned Army when his commitment to the Navy was fulfilled. Since I got serious about whistling, I've sometimes thought about him. Did he become a great whistler? Did he take a long hiatus from it? Did he stop playing altogether?

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Whistle No.1: Walton's Irish, soprano D
Whistle No. 2: green Feadóg Original, soprano D


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 25, 2018 12:27 pm 
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Dan A. wrote:
By "dots," do you mean the diagrams that indicate which holes to cover and which to leave uncovered?

Standard staff notation.

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And we in dreams behold the Hebrides.

Why I teach... and where
Master of nine?


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 25, 2018 1:46 pm 
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Age wise late 50s, maybe 57 or 58 began reading about whistle because I thought I had to study the instrument before I could play the instrument. I wasn't getting anywhere on my own. My born on date is Feb 2012, look over to your left that's me when I got serious about the whistle. A penurious, tone deaf want to be whistler still newbee-ish. I had been a lurker for awhile prior to joining C&F Whistle Forum and was quite hesitant with all of the various characters aboard and the variety of sometimes wild comments, but, I needed help for which I received and continue to be thankful to the Chiffers who responded back then. I guess you could search the archives for my early experience here.

In the 1950s I had elementary school music education, tried the trumpet, saxophone, piano, and never committed to any of the instruments while forgetting all of the school music education. I tried the guitar on and off for several years throughout my life. I even bought better guitars thinking I'd be a better player and that didn't work. I didn't understand the commitment necessary nor had the passion for learning to play. At age 50 a friend and I were in a big box music store attempting to get the urge to try some instrument. Neither of us could read nor play a lick of music, two grown, educated men and no ability. I told my friend I was going to the grave knowing how to play an instrument. I thought the harmonica was the answer, no that didn't happen. So it took a few more years to decide to get serious about some instrument. Ironically, I'm a dedicated audience and love to listen to others play. I love live, local music. I had listened to all types of music including traditional Irish music, but, didn't get serious until 2012. I hope I've been somewhat helpful here on C&F in return for the help I received. I belong to various forums and whistling forums on social media, but, utilize the C&F as the go to primary whistle forum above and beyond all other forums.

I play the whistle every day because I enjoy playing no matter whether playing alone or with friends. Everyday whistling, its not a chore... playing is fun.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 25, 2018 7:02 pm 
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At 26 years old in 1995, I was forced to go see the Flying Fish Sailors by my girlfriend, who was friends with one of the band members. At the time, I was strictly a heavy metal guy and had no interest in folk music of any kind. (I should note that The Flying Fish Sailors aren't an IR-Trad band. They mostly do irreverent sea chanties of their own composition).

Joe Linbeck, of the band, played an Abell whistle on stage, and I fell in obsessively in love with the sound of the instrument. Got one of my own shortly thereafter.

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 26, 2018 12:58 am 
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Wanderer wrote:
They mostly do irreverent sea chanties of their own composition).

Out of curiosity, and sorry for the OT post, where does that spelling come from? "Sea chanties"? I've never seen that spelling anywhere except on this site, but I see it every now and then here.

Ah, and now I've searched the site, and last time I asked about this, out of curiosity, s1m0n called me "bitchy". :(

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