Last summer I completed Tin Whistle and the Music Curriculum in preparation for teaching tin whistle this year.
I have really enjoyed teaching the tin whistle this year and am so delighted with the progress that children have made – in performing, composing and reading music. We practice for about 10-15 minutes every day and the children cheer every time I ask them to take it out.
Here are some tips if you’d like to introduce tin whistle in your class next year!
Buying tin whistles
We bought the tin whistles from Feadog last September. They have lots of offers if you buy in bulk. I think each child paid about 8 euro for their whistle. We chose the nickel whistles in D. Mr. Price often stock brass whistles in D for less than 5 euro each.
Label each whistle and write the childrens name on it. This is so important as all the tin whistles will look the same and there will be countless arguments/problems if they aren’t labelled.
The whistles came in a box (with a space for each whistle) so we stored them in this box for the first few weeks.
These are vital or you are going to end up with a bad headache with 30 children playing random notes at different times.
- At the beginning of a lesson – leave tin whistle on the table.
- Only play when asked – if you play outside of this – you must leave the tin whistle on the teachers table.
- Have a stop signal – hand in the air/ pinch hand motion (like a conductor in the orchestra)
Hold the tin whistle – left hand on top
B (1 finger)
A (2 fingers)
G (3 fingers)
F# (4 fingers – 3 left and 1 right)
E (5 fingers – 3 left and 2 right)
D (6 fingers – 3 left and 3 right)
C# (no fingers)
Activities when introducing a new note;
Ways to remember;
Lines; Every green bus drives fast. (Every good boy deserves fun).
Children can make up their own mnemonic to remember the lines and spaces.
Introducing a song/tune
- Play the piece for the children 3 – 4 times so they know what it sounds like.
- Show the notes. Either letter names or the piece of music with letter names underneath.
- Play the piece again. The children should practice the fingering and put the tin whistle on their chin.
- Count the children in (depending on the time signature).
- Allow the children to play once – at this stage I often call out the notes to keep them together.
- Play the tricky parts – if children have to jump from one note to another note – practice this a number of times (ask the children to put their tin whistle on their chin and practice the fingering a few times.) Ask the children to play any tricky part one by one so you can see who needs extra support.
- Play together
Overall the tin whistle has been a great success in my room this year and I hope to teach it again next year!