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PostPosted: Sat Mar 09, 2019 1:43 pm 
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Joined: Sun Apr 08, 2012 8:29 pm
Posts: 348
Location: San Antonio, Texas
Disclaimer: I don't have near the experience or deep trad connection that some of the guys above me do, so take my suggestions below with a grain of salt.

I like to think of the whistle as made of the thinnest, most fragile glass you can imagine, or like it's made out of a potato chip (are they called "crisps" over there?). When your finger is in the right place, you need almost no pressure to seal the hole. Learning on my own, I didn't even realize I was gripping the whistle too hard for years and years, and I've started to do what Richard suggested, which is spending time focusing on the light touch, and making sure I don't have ANY tension in my neck or hands.

For me, I think of cuts, taps, and rolls as rhythmic additions to my playing. Sometimes, on a long, held out note, you can add cuts or taps in time with the beat to spice things up, or leave them out for a different feel. They're essential for pipers, since you can't tongue notes. Try playing any tune you like (Twinkle Twinkle Little Star works very well for this exercise) without using your tongue to separate the notes. Just blow a constant stream of air. You will find the places that need cuts or taps to differentiate the notes. Also, cuts can be used to emphasize the start of a phrase (BYAH-da-da-da vs. da-da-da-da, if that makes sense) or to add emphasis in other places. Sliding between notes can also aid in the rhythmic presentation of your tune, especially in combination with the cuts, taps, and rolls.

For ornamentation, you can learn a lot by studying your favorite player performing a short phrase that has a sound you want to replicate, especially if they're on a high quality video, and you can slow it down (like on YouTube). Study it over and over again until you can figure out what they're doing with their fingers. Once you've figured out and practiced the mechanics, and you start recognizing the sound in other pieces, you'll be able to use it appropriately in your own playing.

Definitely focus on basics over ornamentation though. If you can't keep the beat, or an ornament is hurting your playing, simplify it. I'm still working to play more fluidly, and I think it's partially due to how I learned, which was working on little phrases, and ornaments, often copying a favorite artist, rather than focusing on playing a whole tune simply and successfully.

Nathaniel James Dowell

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 11, 2019 10:25 pm 

Joined: Sun Nov 22, 2015 10:34 pm
Posts: 41
Books, and videos are fine but a live or Skype teacher is much better. There are several listed on the Chiff Instructor list as others have mentioned. My own live teacher at NY Irish Arts Center has returned to Dublin County and gives Skype lessons, which I have also used. She is listed on the "Teachers Wanted/ student Accepted" page under "Offering Flute and Whistle lessons in NY and over Skype!" Her web site has changed to [url][/url]

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