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PostPosted: Thu Aug 29, 2019 3:48 pm 
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Location: Bellaire Texas (Houston area)
Okay, this has happened to me now three times. My husband sometimes mentions to his clients that I play the whistle and have played it for many years- and he doesn't hesitate to tell them that he thinks I'm quite good and have a fairly extensive/expensive whistle collection (in the early years he had to leave the house when I started playing). I've subsequently received plastic whistles from his well-meaning clients who've traveled to Ireland (all three were Walton whistle packs with "Learn to Play the Tinwhistle" books included- one had an instructional DVD).

I'm not a whistle snob and still play my SweeTones occasionally - but these are truly terrible whistles. So I thank the givers and then quietly re-gift the packs to friends' kids. This last time, though, we ran into the person and she asked "How do you like the whistle? Is the book helpful?". I was at a loss for words and stammered something about being really busy and haven't yet played it. She looked offended and said - "Oh, well, Ken says you play the whistle for at least an hour every day". I know people mean well but - what do you do? (My husband is a native of Osaka and someone once gave us a book called "Japanese Cooking for Beginners")
Has this happened to anyone and if so how did you - or how would you handle it?

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 29, 2019 5:16 pm 
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Easy -- tell them the whistle is lovely and the book was tremendously helpful. I also have this pack and never looked into the book and yes, the standard Waltons D is not really good. Strangely enough the Waltons "mellow D" is awesome and one of my favourite cheap whistles. I also have the "little black whistle" from Waltons and it is even worse than the standard D. It does play but it takes tremendous effort to play the second octave without screeching and squeaking.


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 29, 2019 7:52 pm 
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I've not had that particular problem. But it does seem that Sedi's advice is just fine. With gifts it is "the thought that counts." And we've all gotten our share of bad ones as you illustrate so well with your cookbook anecdote. The givers obviously don't know you well enough to understand the nuances. So reassuring them the gift was appreciated is fine. If you are called to produce it when they come by you could tell them it was such a lovely gift you wanted to share it with another aspiring player who had no whistle. But it will likely not come to that. HaHa

I've had well meaning relatives who really don't know me that well hear that I play whistle and assume that since I can they can do it too. Over the past decades I have been pressed to play something at a Christmas party or other group event. At least two people bought whistles for themselves under the impression that since it was inexpensive it would be quick and easy to learn. (After all, I had figured out how to play it. -- Insert accidental insult to me here-- :) ). I offered to give them both lessons. One of them took me up on it and did make a bit of progress. But neither were interested in practicing or listening to Irish trad.

But it is funny the expectations they had to master the instrument quickly. One actually wrote Tin Whistle on a questionaire to answer the question "What instruments do you play you would be willing so share in performance" when they joined a choir, even though they hadn't gotten past "The Rattlin' Bog." Within weeks they were asked by the choir director to accompany a song the choir was singing for a St. Patrick's day service. It was a song written in Eb and my friend was relieved to discover there was another member who played recorder and could walk through a tune on an Eb whistle purchased for the occasion. I am sure it didn't sound anything like Irish Trad, but, hey, it was St. Patrick's Day so who really cared.

As I am reading this it sounds snarkier than I intended. It is meant to be read with warmth and humor... I need more smiley faces. :) :) :)


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 29, 2019 8:36 pm 
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Elspeth wrote:
I'm not a whistle snob and still play my SweeTones occasionally - but these are truly terrible whistles. So I thank the givers and then quietly re-gift the packs to friends' kids. This last time, though, we ran into the person and she asked "How do you like the whistle? Is the book helpful?". I was at a loss for words and stammered something about being really busy and haven't yet played it. She looked offended and said - "Oh, well, Ken says you play the whistle for at least an hour every day". ... Has this happened to anyone and if so how did you - or how would you handle it?

I don't recall it ever has. You could tell the truth - or, at least, a version of it; maybe something like: "I really appreciated such a kind gesture but I have so many whistles already - plus I've been playing for [X] years, so I'm afraid I'm beyond the beginner's book stage. But I couldn't let your generosity go to waste, so I gave it to a deserving beginner who needed it more. I hope that's all right."

Or if it's appropriate, you could call the client beforehand, explain the situation, and ask if re-gifting to a good cause is all right with them. I should think it would be hard to say no. No doubt they would appreciate your forthrightness, and in this instance you'd be involving them in the matter.

Elspeth wrote:
My husband is a native of Osaka and someone once gave us a book called "Japanese Cooking for Beginners"

That's pretty rich, but I don't know how to interpret it. If anyone would know about Japanese food, hands-down it's going to be someone from Osaka - a town especially known for its foodies - not that his client would know that. Or we could also venture into the murk of gender stereotypes as to who needs to get cracking in the kitchen and why. Neither assumption in that category wins any awards, either. I would have still kept the book as a source of private humor, though.

It's rather like a cat bringing you a mouse, isn't it.

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 30, 2019 7:56 am 
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Thanks for the replies - much appreciated. I like your suggestion in particular, Nanohedron. And yes, these were the "little black whistles").
I didn't mention the GREAT whistle gifts I've gotten - a beautiful whistle from Gene Milligan for my birthday (after we'd only met the day before), a Burke C from my mother and husband for another birthday, a Thin Weasel recently from a fellow whistler. I guess I really have nothing to complain about!

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 30, 2019 8:23 am 
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That is a funny story and I can sympathize. People mean well, and they were thinking of you kindly although in a lazy way. I would say something like thank you very much. The book was stuff I already knew, but its always fun to have another whistle."


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 30, 2019 6:41 pm 
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Nanohedron wrote:
Elspeth wrote:
Has this happened to anyone and if so how did you - or how would you handle it?

I don't recall it ever has.

Oh, I just remembered one: A close friend of mine has no real interest in Trad or anything about it. I'm fine with that. Still, he's been around it now and then, and he's only known me to play cittern, uilleann pipes, flute or whistle, and nothing else. One day, with the best of intentions, he gave me a cheap plastic classroom recorder, bless his heart.

I don't remember exactly how I handled it, but I probably just thanked him warmly and put it away. He never did follow up on it, so that was that. If he had, I would have thanked him again and revealed, with apologies, that it had no application in the music I do. But it's the thought that counts.

To my thinking, the most important thing about dealing gracefully with these situations is timing. I couldn't turn down an awkward gift right to someone's face; that's just flat-out rude.

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