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PostPosted: Tue Jun 02, 2020 4:17 am 
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Hi, I’m Mike and new to the Chiff & Fipple Forums.

To keep my mind busy during lockdown, I decided to learn the tin whistle. I don’t know how I stumbled upon the idea of a whistle, but I liked to idea of learning something new that is cheap to get started, portable and reasonably easy to pick up and play. Six weeks later and I can play a few tunes by following tabs that I’ve found online.

Whilst listening to Irish tin whistle music on YouTube, I discovered the beautifully haunting sound of the low whistle and I would now like to focus my efforts on learning this instrument. I am expecting to receive a second-hand MK Pro Low D Whistle within a week or so and cannot wait to get started!

My question is, do I have to learn tin whistle first or can I put the tin whistle aside and focus solely on the low whistle? If so, can anyone recommend a particularly good resource / tutor that specialises in low whistle tuition? The OAIM have a tin whistle course. If I were to enrol in this, can I transfer principles to the low whistle? I see Phil Hardy has a series of low whistle videos online that look very good.

Any advice in this respect would be most appreciated.

Thanks,

Mike


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 02, 2020 5:33 am 
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Hi and welcome to the forum,
Start out with whatever you like. It's basically the same instrument. Watch Phil Hardy's video explaining the "piper's grip" to cover the holes more comfortably. Basically with the special "grip" (well, one shouldn't really grip the whistle but cover the holes gently -- probably the most important advice or you will feel the strain on the fingers when playing for longer times, especially when you're not 20 anymore) a low whistle is just as easy to play as a normal one. Honestly, I think it is even easier because I have large hands and a tiny soprano D whistle can feel cramped after a while. And the range of movement is smaller with the piper's grip, so ornamentation can be faster with less strain on the fingers (that is my experience at least). So IMO there is no reason to start with a smaller whistle if you like the low whistle.


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 02, 2020 6:05 am 
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Thanks for the warm welcome!

Sedi wrote:
especially when you're not 20 anymore

I wish – am 39! Am a little late to the low whistle party, but I assume that if I throw enough time and effort at it, age shouldn’t be a barrier. I’d be curious to hear from any other ‘late starters’ here.


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 02, 2020 6:53 am 
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My first whistles were a couple of years ago, (I'm coming up to 70), it's never too late to start playing any instrument, at any age. :thumbsup:

There should be no problem concentrating on a low D, if that's what you want, I prefer the lower keys, mainly low F, but have all sizes to hand, they just seem to accumulate once you have a couple - it's a know condition, called Whistle Acquisition Syndrome, or WAS for short. :D

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 02, 2020 8:24 am 
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All the techniques for Low D whistle will be the same as for smaller whistles except, as people have said, the "grip" or hand posture.

True that there are players, good players, who never learned Low Whistle hand posture and continue to play Low Whistle with the same finger/hand positions they use for High Whistles.

I wouldn't recommend that because it puts your fingers and hands in stretched and strained positions. True there are people who cope, but the vast majority of players have found it's far more ergonomic and comfortable to use Low Whistle 'grip'.

Personally I can feel my hands relax when I shift to the Low Whistle grip. Your fingers aren't as widely splayed, the holes fall right under your fingers.

I think the best beginner/introductory Low D is the Tony Dixon conical-bore all-plastic Low D

https://www.tonydixonmusic.co.uk/produc ... ey-of-d-2/

It's thin, light, comfortable to finger, easy to blow, pleasant of tone, and inexpensive. I don't know of any other Low D that combines all of these attributes.

The Dixon site says they're closed (due to the virus) but there are probably shops that have these to hand. Tony made them in quantity and many shops carried them.

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


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 02, 2020 12:09 pm 
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Location: Tyler, Texas
sockfish wrote:
Hi, I’m Mike and new to the Chiff & Fipple Forums.

To keep my mind busy during lockdown, I decided to learn the tin whistle. I don’t know how I stumbled upon the idea of a whistle, but I liked to idea of learning something new that is cheap to get started, portable and reasonably easy to pick up and play. Six weeks later and I can play a few tunes by following tabs that I’ve found online.

Whilst listening to Irish tin whistle music on YouTube, I discovered the beautifully haunting sound of the low whistle and I would now like to focus my efforts on learning this instrument. I am expecting to receive a second-hand MK Pro Low D Whistle within a week or so and cannot wait to get started!




Hi Mike, your story and mine are very similar. I was hunting for something to occupy my time and stumbled upon the tin whistle. Four weeks ago I ordered a high d and I have started learning to play it. It gave me so much joy that I ordered a low d from Howards last week and it arrived yesterday. The sound is wonderful!

Good luck on your journey enjoying the whistles. My goal is to play for my enjoyment and maybe play for a few of the family and friends. I just wished I had done this years ago. I'm 63 but figured it's never too late and I'm having a great time learning to play.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 03, 2020 9:56 am 
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fatmac wrote:
(I'm coming up to 70)
Wow. That's very inspirational – I have no excuse then!

fatmac wrote:
Whistle Acquisition Syndrome
Buy ALL the things!

pancelticpiper wrote:
All the techniques for Low D whistle will be the same as for smaller whistles except, as people have said, the "grip" or hand posture.
Thanks. I thought as much, but thought there might be more to it.

TxWhistler wrote:
I just wished I had done this years ago.
Yes, same here!


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 03, 2020 4:54 pm 
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Mike,

Welcome to the wonderful world of Irish Traditional Music, and anything else you choose to play on your whistle.

My advice:

--Get yourself an inexpensive Low F whistle, learn all about the piper's grip, and start playing.

High D whistles are somewhat hard on the roommate's and family's ears when played by the beginner. A low whistle can be mellow and fun. I wouldn't put off learning to enjoy low whistles. A low F is slightly smaller than a Low D and it is somewhat easier to cover the wholes on the smaller whistle. Listen to lots of good ITM music.

Best of luck and enjoy!


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 03, 2020 7:59 pm 
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For some an F-whistle might be easier than a low D. But not, when you have big hands. My fingers fall more natural on the holes of a low D than an F. And piper's grip works better for me on a low D because of the larger holes, which naturally follow the contour of my fingers. That might sound counter-intuitive but with thicker fingers a larger hole can be easier to cover than a smaller one -- especially with piper's grip, not so much with a normal grip where you play with the pads of your fingers. So I'd advice against buying an "in between" key like F or G first. They come in handy when playing in other keys of course. But to me they always feel like neither fish nor fowl when playing them. I concentrate on high C and D (maybe a Bb every now and then) and low D (whistle or flute). But that is a very individual thing, I guess. Determined by anatomy of your hands mostly. Best would be if there is a store nearby to try different keys but that might be difficult of course. I'm in the lucky position to live near a music store which stocks a few whistles from kerrywhistles (Phil Hardy).


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 04, 2020 6:08 am 
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That's a good point about the in-between sizes, the sizes some makers call "mezzo" some "alto".

I finger High D whistles one way, with the end-pads of each finger, and true Low Whistles (Low D, Low C) a quite different way, the "piper's grip" which I use the middle-joint pads on the index and middle fingers on each hand, and the end-joint pads of the ring fingers of each hand.

But those in-between sizes I'm using all sorts of things, combinations of things and in-between things. Not that I think about it, of course in the moment you pick up a whistle and play it.

You can see them all in this video. I'm not thinking about where I'm putting my fingers, and with some of those middle sizes like mezzo F it might be the case that if I pick it up three times I'll being using a different grip each time.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7-fQhvleWq8&t=12s

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


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 04, 2020 10:32 am 
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BKWeid wrote:
Get yourself an inexpensive Low F whistle, learn all about the piper's grip, and start playing.
I’ve already invested a significant sum in an MK Pro Low D. As such, am in no hurry to acquire a Low F. Won’t rule it out in the future though! #WAS

BKWeid wrote:
High D whistles are somewhat hard on the roommate's and family's ears when played by the beginner. A low whistle can be mellow and fun.
Yep! I agree and much prefer the mellow, lower sound of the Low D.

Sedi wrote:
For some an F-whistle might be easier than a low D. But not, when you have big hands.
I’d describe my hands as long, thin and fairly large. I should think I’ll be okay, but we’ll see.


In your opinions, is it worth following a tin whistle course / book and applying the steps to low whistle, or seeking out low whistle-specific tuition?

Mike


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 04, 2020 12:22 pm 
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Cool, a used Tony Dixon Low D like I was talking about has just come up for sale here at a very good price.

viewtopic.php?f=35&t=110599

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


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 04, 2020 12:26 pm 
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sockfish wrote:
In your opinions, is it worth following a tin whistle course / book and applying the steps to low whistle, or seeking out low whistle-specific tuition?


You could go either way, I think. There are not many low whistle-specific tutorials out there. I started out with watching some of Phil Hardy's videos (I did play normal tin whistle before however, but not any Irish Traditional Music). Nowadays I simply learn tunes that I like (only ITM) and I do it all by ear. But it was helpful to learn stuff about "ornamentation" and articulation or it might be hard to even guess what the players are doing sometimes.


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 04, 2020 2:47 pm 
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Others have far more experience and very informative answers. I'm in the same boat of shifting from the higher whistles to lower keys, due to tinnitus and wanting to explore the full whistle range anyway. Most instruction I've seen is done on high D whistles.

Low whistles may be similar for most training, but there are a few minor adjustments.
1) Typically a little more air is used for low whistles, so time between breaths and length of phrasing you can reliably perform with full control, may be affected. Doing sprints or fast running, is great for developing some expansion of wind capacity, and gaining control of the diaphragm and rib cage for maximum air intake.

2) Low D whistles that I've seen, in general, have their weaknesses at their extremes; their lowest few notes and their highest few notes may come out at a noticeable lower volume than the rest, where the tone may not be best, much more so than on a whistle from alto G and higher. It may take a lot more practice of air control to find the best tone and control those notes reliably. With high whistles, if they are going to fail, to me it seems they more often have notes that start to get more windy, scratchy or break up in quality rather than obviously dropping in volume. That varies from whistle to whistle. You will need to therefore practice on the particular instrument you play, to work with it's idiosyncrasies.

3) Some reviewers have commented that playing high speed on a low whistle sometimes has added difficulty due to a whistle's slower response, and possibly the need for piper's grip or wider fingering, which is perhaps adding some awkwardness, so again, practice is needed to adjust to that. I've seen many YouTube performances of quite fast playing on low D, F and G whistles that proves both that the lowest whistles may have slower response, and that practice will overcome most low whistle issues, to allow full speed playing. If you are fast and precise enough and the whistle isn't, the notes may tend to sound less separated, but at least they're there, and you're actually playing! I have a tenor recorder that for the right hand is a bit of a stretch and I make awkward mistakes in the first 5 minutes of playing it. But I get used to it, adjust my arm position and in no time it's playing smoothly at any speed. Certainly, a tenor recorder takes far more air than a soprano, may have a slightly slower response in the lowest notes, but with practice, the necessary tempo of breath control adjusts, and I don't notice, and play whatever I want.


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 05, 2020 7:29 am 
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RoberTunes wrote:
Low D whistles that I've seen, in general, have their weaknesses at their extremes; their lowest few notes and their highest few notes...


As somebody who went down the Low D whistle rabbit hole a decade ago, and went through around 40 different Low Ds, I found that as whistles get bigger design/voicing issues are amplified. High whistles are almost universally even in their voicing, while with Low Whistles getting such evenness is extremely difficult.

As RoberTunes says the Achilles' Heel of Low Whistles is how the makers decide to balance the high and low notes.

In the Low Ds I played, nearly always the "diagnostic" notes, the notes that told you all you needed to know about how the whistlemaker had balanced and voiced the octaves, were low E and high B.

Many Low Ds have a powerful Bottom D and strong low F#, but it's that note in between, low E, that is often feeble.

And many Low Ds have a civilized 2nd octave, high E, F#, G, and A, but have a high B that's "shouty", loud, harsh, and tricky to blow just right. (I don't worry about notes higher than that, as high B, the highest note a fiddler can play in First Position, is the highest note generally found in trad Irish dance music.)

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


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