Irish Whistle Lessons
“Sweet as pipe-music was the melodius sound of the maiden’s voice and her Gaelic” –Accalam na Senorach (The Colloquy of the Ancient Men), 12th century.
Also known as the tin whistle, penny whistle, feadóg stáin, tin flageolet, Clarke London Flageolepenny whistle, English flageolet, or the Scottish penny whistle, this uncomplicated six-holed woodwind is related to the recorder and native american flute. Cynthia Butler, our instructor of Irish Whistle lessons in Clear Lake Texas, graduated from Baylor university with a Bachelors degree in music education after having spent several years at the University of Houston’s early-music program. She has been playing and teaching the pennywhistle (as well as recorder and ocarina) for over 10 years, and has utilizes an extensive curriculum to best instruct whistle players interested in a variety of educational and performance goals. Whether interested in sight reading, improvisation, Celtic music, traditional Irish tunes, or gospel, the Irish Whistle is a perfect introductory wind instrument for anyone looking for an inexpensive though satisfying addition to their instrument collection.
Described as a flageolet to better characterize the French manufactured tone producing fipple in the 1600’s many tin whistles today are produced in England. Years ago they were pressed from flattened sheets of tin, though today they are commonly made from rolls of brass tubing, plastic, clay, wood, and other materials are not uncommon. The name Penny Whistle stems from the inexpensive instruments circulating in the early 19th century, when thought of mostly as toys they could be purchased for a penny. Today a quality performance instrument, though marginally more expensive than a penny, may be purchased on Amazon for around $12.
The history of the Tin Whistle and its association with Ireland can be documented back to the dawn of recorded history, with one of the first written evidences being feadan performers mentioned in the description of the King of Ireland’s court found in the Brehon Laws dating from the third century A.D. Playable specimens of twelfth century bone whistles strikingly similar to today’s modern pipes have been recently recovered from excavations near High Street in the old Norman quarter of Dublin, and many statues, paintings, carvings, and illuminated manuscripts depict Irish whistle player in antiquity. The association with traditional Irish music, and tin whistles is therefore an old establishment, and even today pennywhistle players are frequent participants in modern Sessions at local pubs.