What is it?
The tin whistle is a British instrument designed in 1840 by Robert Clarke when his factory-made whistles became the new standard.
A person that plays the tin whistle it’s called a whistler.
Not to be confused with
You may hear about it with other names like pennywhistle, English flageolet, Irish whistle, Belfast hornpipe, or tin flageolet. The name is “tin” to differentiate himself from the penny whistle (the previous standard).
The instrument can also be called flauta irlandesa in spanish, feadóg in french.
The instrument is from the Wind family meaning the sound comes by blowing air in a mouthpiece into a tube(resonator).
The types of tin whistle are determined by chromatic key meaning they have different ranges :
- D & G: Most Common
- C, F, Bb, Eb: Rare
There’s also the low whistle or concert whistles that play an octave lower.
In terms of materials it’s mostly made of brass (copper with zinc) and nickel, but the mouthpiece is plastic. There are also rare full metal, PVC, and wood whistles.
Before you buy
Getting a tin whistle for sale? as a gift? If you do, here’s all you need to know.
The price of the instrument is around $7 – $150 USD, the cheapest we found was a Walton aluminum whistle in D and the most expensive was a Howard Low D plastic whistle with a case and a mouthpiece that can be adjusted to fix off-key sounds.
In the middle we have something like the Irish copper d whistle with a case for $30 USD, you can search on amazon here or eBay here.
The size goes around 12 x 0.5 x 0.5 In ( 30 x 1.25 x 1.25 Cm) – 21 x 1 x 1 In (53 x 2.5 x 2.5 Cm) and has a weight from 1.75 Lbs (0.8 Kgs) to 0.5 Lbs (0.2 Kgs).
Now that you know, you can check on Ebay here.
There are a lot of accessories, but not that many for this one, a bag/case for protection, a second mouthpiece in case the first one gets damaged, or a cleaning kit to use in this or any other instruments.
How to learn the tin whistle
We recommend learning to read sheet music, play notes and learn the tricks of playing songs.
For learning to read sheets we try a lot of resources to help you choose.
To learn to play all notes you need a finger chart (also known as position chart).
The tips & tricks are all the details that combined make a big difference.
They way you hold it, efficient warmups, positions and techniques.
Here are some book and courses with pros & cons:
- Whistleberry Tunes: paid Udemy course for kids.
- Beginner’s course: free youtube playlist for some theory and a lot of songs.
- The Clarke: paid book with a cd of folk songs.
Remember, the tin whistle is very easy to learn and you can start playing songs in minutes, it’s also similar to the recorder & bansuri in playstyle so you can combine those resources to help you learn, we hope this helps, we’ll keep working on this article.