Tin Whistle

Tips on teaching young children the tin whistle

Written by WhistleAway

How do I get my child to play a tin whistle?

Because children have smaller hands, a higher key whistle might well help, in which case buy two Fs and work with your child. Make sure you try them out in the shop and get ones with a decent tone that arent prone to squeaking.

A decent Generation is an excellent choice for a child because they are relatively easy to learn to blow correctly. I’d definitely work on real tunes, even nursery rhymes.

Tips on teaching young children the tin whistle

I often start with The Leitrim Fancy with beginners of any age because of its step-wise shapes in the A music (and because it brings in C natural cross fingering from the beginning and is good for explaining cuts and rolls on – but all that won’t quite concern you yet!) Choose tunes that start in the left hand and dont go over the break too much.

It is also a very good idea to explain how things work to children – in a way they can grasp at their particular level, of course. If your child has problem placing his fingers on the holes and has to keep looking down, don’t worry, quite quickly it’ll feel for placing the fingers, but it would probably help if you explain to him why her fingers must cover and seal the holes and come off/go on in order.

You can show them by yourself (contrast doing it right with doing it wrong so he can see the differences).

Try things like getting them to finger the holes while you stop up the top end and blow in the bottom so they can feel any leaks.

Also, get them to blow while you finger a tune and vice versa…. anything like that that can be made fun.

Show them and try to get them to explain to you about “higher” and “lower” pitches and longer/shorter tubes and how the tone holes lengthen or shorten the working part of the tube. A leaky finger fails to lengthen the tube properly…. If they understand the elements of why it works one way and not the other, they will be more likely to enjoy the challenge of succeeding and be able to target success for themselves.

All this takes much more complexity to explain than it does actually to do! Think out ploys for yourself and try them. Don’t do too much at one go; choose a time when the child is enthusiastic, run with it while it flows, be prepared to drop it and return if it palls.

I wouldn’t emphasize scales to such little children (3-8) – too likely to bore them unless they have a very studious inclination. Get those in the context of well chosen melodies.

Ultimately, the key is to get them and keep them enjoying it. If they are interested and engaged, they are never too young for playing a tin whistle, and even if they don’t persist with it, it will have laid good foundations.

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