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PostPosted: Sun Nov 17, 2019 4:50 pm 
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Ok, pretty straight forward question: What is the youngest age child you’d consider giving a whistle? I’m thinking mainly from a child safety perspective, rather than the parents’ sanity perspective :twisted: I don’t have any kids (that I know of :boggle: ) so this question had never occurred to me until I thought about gifting A whistle to a friend’s child today.

Peter, I’m curious: Around what age do kids in Ireland tend to be given access to the household whistle for amusement?


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 17, 2019 6:36 pm 
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When a child starts going to school (rather than nursery school) in England they are 5 years old and using "complex machinery" like scissors, pencils, shoelaces etc and learning to look after things they have. I suppose it's really down to the individual child.

All I can say certainly is that I was given a tin whistle at the very latest by the age of 7, most likely at the age of 6. It didn't do me any harm (or the whistles I think), but I do know that I was given a tin whistle because I was already showing an interest.

Edited: Changed UK to England.

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 17, 2019 6:47 pm 
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Thanks for that Andrew.


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 17, 2019 7:11 pm 
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I used to teach skiing, and the ski school I worked at had an age cutoff of 4 years old. Kids all develop differently, but before then they can be very hard to teach formally. Even the 4 year olds I found very hit-and-miss. Toddlers learn by doing things over and over again, trial and error in walking and talking and all the basics of being a human. It's a method that works, but takes a long time. They're not necessarily used to specifically retaining instruction, and you can show them the same thing over and over and over again without them actually copping on. To be honest, the youngest kids learned more from us simply pushing them down a (very small) hill time and time again than pretty much any actual instruction you could give them.

Again, this varies a ton according to the individual child, and some 3 and 4 year olds are capable of being taught some really complex things. But before the age of 5 or so I wouldn't expect to be sitting them down and teaching them jigs and technique. If you put a whistle in their hand, they will probably love the idea of making a sound, and maybe eventually figure out a couple little tunes (eg Hot Cross Buns or Baby Shark), but you'll probably get frustrated quickly if you try to formally teach them. There's a reason that school usually starts at around 5!


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 17, 2019 7:20 pm 
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Good to know. There’s no thought on my part that this child will be learning to play the whistle at his current age 2 /12 or 3 years old, only that he might occasionally have some fun exploring sounds that might lead to further interest in music down the road, which is something his parents have said they would be supportive of.


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 17, 2019 8:42 pm 
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I would imagine there might be better ways of giving a child a noisemaker if that's your main goal... you can always give a whistle when they are interested in actually learning to play music a bit later. Something like a slide whistle or a party noisemaker would make a sound and wouldn't have the complexity of figuring out that one actually has to put fingers down and how to do so. Even a harmonica would be less complex in terms of getting different notes with little effort. Something like a pitchpipe makes noise and is quieter than the above, which parents, pets, and neighbors might appreciate. Or, if it doesn't have to be a blown instrument, everything from cymbals, rainsticks, claves, shakers, hand drums, maracas, string of jingle bells, to the melody harps or little xylophones to teaching them how to bang on pots and pans would accomplish noisemaking. When I was a really little kid I used to play my mom's egg slicer like a harp... managed a strange minor-key version of Twinkle, Twinkle on that one at one point, but even plucking the wires in succession or randomly made an interesting "tune"...

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 18, 2019 1:42 am 
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I would check with the parents first. A penny whistle given as a gift might end up in the bin for various reasons. The racket might be too much for already stressed parents, or maybe the parents already have a clear picture of their child’s musical development and a penny whistle doesn’t feature in it. Also, some people just don’t like the sound of the instrument.

I have no idea about the specifics of Ireland and what happens there.

I do know that a one year old can blow throgh a recorder or penny whistle, a two year old can be shown an ’incorrect’ but functional trumpet embouchure. A three year old can figure out for themselves that a piano doesn’t have to be bashed and can almost produce pleasing melody. I’m still waiting for pleasing melody from the other instruments!


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 18, 2019 1:53 am 
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It would depend on whose child it is and how much I disliked that person. :)


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 18, 2019 5:21 am 
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We would have quite a few Under 9 members in our Comhaltas branch and they are definitely capable of learning from 7 upwards.

I'd hope that there is a plan in place to give some basic instruction to the child. Because otherwise, I suspect the "gift" of music isn't going to work out great for anybody.


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 18, 2019 6:44 am 
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If you are going to give a child a whistle, I would suggest that the first thing to teach them is that the whistle only goes in the mouth when they are stationary.


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 18, 2019 11:03 am 
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Thanks for the replies everyone, much appreciated.


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 18, 2019 11:52 am 
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Loren wrote:
Ok, pretty straight forward question: What is the youngest age child you’d consider giving a whistle? I’m thinking mainly from a child safety perspective, rather than the parents’ sanity perspective :twisted: I don’t have any kids (that I know of :boggle: ) so this question had never occurred to me until I thought about gifting A whistle to a friend’s child today.

I would say 5, but, each child develops in their own way and at their own pace. Exposure counts immensely. I remember a friend/faculty member who was originally from Caracus, Venezuela that mentioned El Systema for learning music. After extensive searching archives & waybackmachine too I cannot find the PBS original video I watched in early 2000s about El Systema. I do remember the video stated that kids 2-3 yrs old were provided miniature instruments that they could hold on to and by 4 yrs could play a piece of music. Exposure and experience of being surrounded by other children with musical instruments was a big motivating factor. Then kids went on to play in a children's orchestra and continued on with childhood development.

I'm not an educator in school system, yet, I now teach a dozen kids ages 4 to 12 (privately Trad at Gaelic-American Club) although I'm still newbie-ish (advanced beginner) whistler myself. Kids get the recorder here locally in the 3rd grade along with beginnings to formal music education in school. I don't compete with the schools ever. A few parents wanted their children to get Trad music as well so that's how I got involved. I have been teaching kids four years now (since early 2015) the basics.

Yes, safety is an utmost important aspect for my method. Some simple things that have worked for me when with the kids:

I introduce youngest kids to a Clarke Sweetone whistle, often gifted, unless they already have a whistle. I also advise obtain or gift a whistle case that protects their whistle, that properly caring for their whistle is very important. No biting the fipple ever, whistle rests on lower lip and not in the mouth or on teeth. No drumming or poking of any kind is tolerated. I want the kids holding on to the whistle even when listening so no whistle rolls off the table on to the floor... and when it happens we say in unison... "a whistle on the floor is a whistle no more." I know many of the learning methods recommended, by ear, listening, staff notation, etc., but what works for me is using the fingering diagram to get the youngest kids started with scale, a few nursery rhymes (that I had to relearn on whistle) and then on to the trad tunes broken down into notes, phrases, parts, whole. I enjoy the kids and the kids enjoy coming to whistle instruction. Parents juggling all school activities, local events/sports, lessons, and family time (multiple children) is quite an undertaking. School work always comes first, lessons, and fun later on. There is no requirement/pressure to attend whistle lessons with me... come as often or as little as desired and time/interest permits. Monday nights are my instruction nights giving and receiving. Whistle instruction books are varied while I prefer the books that include the fingering tabs along with staff notation, however, I've utilized parts of various tutorial books to cover as much as possible. And recently YouTube channel by CutiePie was introduced to the kids for whistle music beyond Trad, kids movies, TV shows, games, etc. that I personally don't prefer nor know. The C&F instruction link here above whistle forum has many good suggestions for all levels of learning. The best experience for me now is watching the older kids teaching the younger beginner kids.

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Group photo is Dec. 2016. Current year gallery 2019 scroll http://shamrockirishmusic.org/gallery-2019.html and new 2019 group photo to be done next month.

And as for the "parents’ sanity perspective" that's a private household matter that I'm not involved with. :D Give the child a whistle.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 19, 2019 7:13 pm 
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niallt wrote:
If you are going to give a child a whistle, I would suggest that the first thing to teach them is that the whistle only goes in the mouth when they are stationary.


Not in Ireland so I can't answer that specific question, but niallt's stationary advice rings true. One of my toddler son's grabbed one of my whistles and ran off running, laughing at tooting, which worked until he hit a stationary object with it in his mouth. Ouch.

I know the summer camp here in Chicago has first graders giving them a go.

Trying to generalize from the fractional size violins my kids were playing in Suzuki classes i picked up three G Generations, but they never did catch on.
They might have had I been a better teacher, who knows.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 19, 2019 7:39 pm 
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busterbill wrote:
niallt wrote:
If you are going to give a child a whistle, I would suggest that the first thing to teach them is that the whistle only goes in the mouth when they are stationary.

Not in Ireland so I can't answer that specific question, but niallt's stationary advice rings true. One of my toddler son's grabbed one of my whistles and ran off running, laughing at tooting, which worked until he hit a stationary object with it in his mouth. Ouch.

Give 'em a wee accordion. Might as well, because either way, you're damned if you do and damned if you don't, but at least there won't be blood.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 19, 2019 9:31 pm 
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Nanohedron wrote:
busterbill wrote:
niallt wrote:
If you are going to give a child a whistle, I would suggest that the first thing to teach them is that the whistle only goes in the mouth when they are stationary.

Not in Ireland so I can't answer that specific question, but niallt's stationary advice rings true. One of my toddler son's grabbed one of my whistles and ran off running, laughing at tooting, which worked until he hit a stationary object with it in his mouth. Ouch.

Give 'em a wee accordion. Might as well, because either way, you're damned if you do and damned if you don't, but at least there won't be blood.

I thought that was the definition for Calvinism: Damned if you do, and damned if you don´t :twisted:

Bob

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