Learning The Tin Whistle, here's a few of my own videos to help you learn how to get
started playing tin whistle music. Most of the songs are easy to play along with. Just the first verse is played unless there's
a chorus, otherwise the song repeats itself for all the verses. The whistle I use is a Susato in the key of D and is made
from plastic. Some of the songs here already have the sheet music in the sheet music section, others don't. There are
nearly 40 videos now on the site showing you the basics and a bit more. There are thousands of visitors who come here to learn
the notes, most are complete beginners, for this reason I have compiled many easy to read songs with the tin whistle ''Letter''
note above the lyric of the song and all have a youtube video showing the music being played. If you would like to have your
video displayed on the site then let me know. Keep in mind the learners who just want to play the song without too much ornamentation.
The star of The Co. Down is one of the most popular tunes on the site and was written way back in the 1800's
by Cathal McGarvey. On a scale of 1-10 on it's level of difficulty to play the song it's about 4. As with all in this section
there's a video and letter notes to help you on your way.
The Fields Of Athenry is a must to learn. It's one of the finest ballads ever written and known the world
over. Written by Pete St. John the story centres around a small town in the west of Ireland during The Great Hunger. Level
of difficulty about 5.
Wild Mountain / Go Lassie Go is an old Scottish tune. It's popularity in Ireland is due to The Clancy Brother
who sang it with such great harmonies during the concerts. It's still a favorite today. Level of difficulty about 3.
Happy Birthday is another one that every whistle player should know as you never know when you'll be asked
to play it. Like Michael Row Your Boat it's most likely one of the shortest tunes ever composed.
Dirty Old Town is a little gem of a song. It's not as easy as the others here and takes a lot of practise.
Just because a song is very familar to you and you know every word doesn't mean you'll be able to play it first time. Level
of difficulty about a 5. From the singing of Luke Kelly from The Dubliners.
The Parting Glass is another which I learned from The Clancy Brothers and later from The Pogues. It's known
the world over and one that's generally sang at the end of a session. Level of difficulty about 2.
Annie's Song by John Denver. It's a great tune to learn and a bit of a diversion from the old folk stuff.
This was requested and I never tried it before the request. I was surprised how easy it was to play. For a novice whistle
player you should have it off in no time.
Flower Of Scotland by The Corries is a handy little tune. It's as well know in Ireland as it is in Scotland
and most ballad groups include it in their set list. On a scale of one to ten on how difficult it is to play I'd call it a
The Wild Rover is one of those folk songs that is known all over the world. If you ask most people of
it's origins they'd say it was an Irish song, well anybody who is into folk music knows that it's an English song that made
it's way to Ireland like many other, including Dirty Old Town.
Amazing Grace is a Christian song / hymme 1771. It's known all over the world. It's not too hard to play
and I'd regard the tune as a stepping stone from the children's section to the songs I included here.
Whiskey in the Jar is another one well worth learning as the whole world seems to know it. Made famous
as a folk song by The Clancys and The Dubliners but then it got turned into a rock song by Thin Lizzy and metallica. I given
a few different versions in case the key does not suit.
Updates. For those of you who follow the updates on this site, I will post any new video
song here. I have made several in the past 2 weeks or so which are suitable for beginners. The latest update is by The Furey
Brothers called Steal Away [see link on page 2 in whistle section] Another update was a John Denver song
entitled ''Annie's Song'' sometimes called You Fill Up My Senses which is probibly a step up from complete
beginners but worth having a go at. Next was The Mountains Of Mourne by Percy French which is a lovely little
tune and well suited for novice players. Then I had a try at a Luke Kelly and The Dubliners version of ''Song For
Ireland'' which didn't turn out too bad. Others uploaded in the past month were Amazing Grace, Highland Paddy, Morning
Has Broken to name a few. Today's update is ''You Are My Sunshine'' , see video and notes below on this page. I also added
a Furey Brothers song ''I Will Love You'' , again not too difficult to play. The kids music page is updated with one new song
''The Wheels On The Bus'' , check out the Children's Songs On Tin Whistle
I have had plenty of requests for Amhrán na bhFiann / The Soldier's Song which is the Irish
National Anthem. It's not exactly one for beginners but if you plan to keep playing the whistle and if your Irish you'll have
to get around to playing it at some stage. Again my advice is to break it down and learn it line by line. I use a Generation
make whistle in the key of C to keep it from sreeching as it goes up as far as the high F.. The link is in the first page
of sheet music.
Back to basics today with an old Irish rebel song from the 1800s by Thomas Davis called The West
Awake. It's handy to play and doesn't go too high, it's a slow air. The link is in the second page of the sheet music
Some tunes sound dreadful when playing them on the D, especially when they reach up to the high F an G notes.
I took out the battered up old C whistle again for todays song which was The Patriot Game which is about
Fergal O'Hanlon and written by Dominic Behan. It's one of the most will known of all the rebel songs but you'll seldom hear
it being played as a stand alone instrumental piece of music. It's a little bit tricky as it goes straight from the high
to the low D from one word to the next.
From a tricky song to the most simple, included today were the ABC song and Baa Baa Black Sheep which are
basically the same tune with slight variations. Both of which are for children to learn.
Another one in the kids section is The Connemara Cradle song which was made popular by Delia Murphy [1902
1971] who came from Co. Mayo. It's a step above what you'd learn starting off before what's known as intermediate.
Morning Has Broken has probibly never been played before of the whistle, it's a beautiful tune so I decided to give it a try, it was well
worth learning. I was surprised to hear the song was over a hundred years old, I always thaught it was a recent pop song from
Other updates since Christmas have been My Bonny Lies Over The Ocean where I have placed the link in the
Children's section. Here I Am Lord with a version on the piano keyboard which again is handy to play along with. Red River
Valley was on the site for years but I have only just got around to adding a video. And the final one is by The Dubliners
Come My Little Son from the singing of Luke Kelly, again there's a video showing which notes to play. The link is in the first
page of the Sheet Music And Tin Whistle Notes. I'll continue to ad more as I find the time. I hope this helps.
The Key of G consists of one sharp which is F#. The scale is G A B C D E F# G.
Say for example, I wrote the piece in the key of D, there would then be two sharps which are F# and C#.
The scale is D E F# A B C# D
In my book on the right you don't need to be able to read sheet music to play the songs. I give the
simple letter notes along with the sheet music for all the songs. It's a great big book for all ages. There are 119 songs
in total including a raft of well known folk, ballads and children's songs.
There are millions of people out there who would dearly love to be able to play a musical instrument and the thought
of having to learn how to read sheet music seems to daunting a task. Some people might say let them stick at it and they'll
eventually be able to read music. Well perhaps some would, but a large proportion give up and will never know the joy of sitting
at their kitchen table playing their favorite song or tune. I think that's a shame and that's the reason I included the basic
lead notes in letter note form.
Jean-Baptiste Meynard Tin Whistle Player
This is Jean-Baptiste Meynard who has contributed many video lessons to the site, many are included
in the list above. He has a passion for irish, scottish and celtic music and also plays the bag pipes. Jean comes from France
and uses Generation made whistles in the key's od D and C.
The above is what a standard piece of whistle sheet music looks like. It's for an old folk song ''There's
A Hole In The Bucket'' . It doesn't go any higher than the B note so it's a great way to get yourself familiar with reading
If you are only starting to learn the whistle I would recommend an easy song to begin with for obvious reasons.
It's pretty much the same as any instrument starting out. If you were learning the piano you wouldn't start with ''Rachmaninoff
third piano concerto'' . It's the same with the penny whistle. Most of the Childrens Songs here on the site are handy to play
when starting out, so that's where I'd recommend you to start. Pick one that your familiar with. Learn it one line at a time
and then put the whole thing together. After you have mastered the Childrens songs I would then have a go at Come By The Hills,
you will have learned a lot from the kids section and know where each note is on the whistle. Don't be tempted to try and
play the difficult stuff before you are ready, it can be frustrating but you must be patient. After Come By The Hills
try another that's not too hard, such as My Heart Will Go On which is very basic. Two more easy ones to learn and are not
even folk songs are Love Me Tender and Woden Heart. After you have learned these and really know them off by heart it would
be time to try the intermediate songs such as Dirty Old Town and The Star Of The Co. Down. If you follow this advice you won't
be so frustrated to the point of giving up.
Don't worry if it's not comming to you right away as it's the same for everbody. One of the greatest things
about learning how to play the whistle is that you can take it with you to work/school. When I drove for a living I used to
keep a spare whistle in the car and during breaks I'd practice a couple of songs. Even the couple of extra minutes a day makes
all the difference.
The first written piece of musical notation to appear in Ireland comes from the 12th century and Staff notation has been
available to buy since the 18th century. These were written mainly for piano. Tin Whistle ''Tabs'' didn't appear until much
later as the instrument was not widely used. Many traditional musicians today can read music thanks to the first publication
of Francis O'Neill's wonderful collection of tunes in the first part of the 20th century. For the vast majority of traditional
musicians the use of sheet music is only a guide for getting the basics of the tune off. Centuries before books came about
the tunes were passed on orally and even the musicians that do read sheet music still find that listening to a tune played
at a session will give them a feeling for a tune, such as variations in the melody and timing. The ornamentation of
a tune is hard to capture through notation alone. The introduction of charts showing where to place fingers on the holes of
the whistle were a God-Send for many whistle pupils and has certainly increased the number of people taking up the whistle.
Lets face it some people just haven't got the ear for picking up a tune and relay on the written notation. Some of these people
go on to develop an ear for music after spending some time reading the tune from sheets. So this is a good thing and should
be encouraged, although some music teachers frown upon learning by reading music. My position is that what ever system
works for you to learn how to play the whistle or any instrument then go for it.
So Which Key Of Whistle Should I Use ?. The most popular one is in the key of D as a lot
of the tunes at sessions are played in the key of D. A lot of the songs here are played in the key of G on a whistle that's
in the key of D. It all depends on where the last note of the song is and what note you start with, for example if the song
has a low C or B you won't be able to play it unless you fake it because you'll run out of notes on the whistle because the
lowest note on the D whistle is a D.
If you just play at home for your own enjoyment it doesn't matter which key of whistle you use. I find the
small G whistle an excellent choice when playing without others as there's a lovely sweet sound from it which sounds very
like a Piccolo.
Getting back to what key of whistle to use, as I said at sessions they like to play tunes in D. But as this
site caters mostly for songs rather than tunes and when playing in a group it's best to have several whistles in different
keys. If you've ever being to gigs where ballads are played you'll notice the tin whistle player changing whistles for various
songs. Take The Wolfe Tones for example, Tommy Byrne plays a lot of songs in the key of F, so there no way that Noel would
be using a D whistle if the Singer is singing in the key of F. Noel Nagle changes whistles continuously during the gig depending
on the key the singer feels comfortable singing a particular song. So sessions of traditional music are a different ball game
altogether than singing ballads.
If you play a song on a D whistle and you finger
the tune in D major, you can pick up a Bb whistle
and finger the tune exactly the same way.
The same goes for many songs played n a C or G
whistle, it will just come out in Bb-Major instead of D