POST The Traditional Pennywhistle

The pennywhistle is my favorite instrument to use with children as they begin learning music.  It simply has six holes. Imagine trying to teach the piano with 88 keys to a child verses a tin whistle with only six holes. I just love the tone, a sweet blend of wood and tin, mixing within an ensemble of the silver flute, fiddle, guitar, banjo and/or percussion, or just simply by itself. I find myself gravitating to the songs from Ireland and early America to demonstrate it. Many great tunes have been written and performed on this little whistle. 

I prefer the pennywhistle with the wooden fipple plug mouthpiece, which is called the traditional pennywhistle.  You will be amazed with how strong you can build your lungs.  This unique mouthpiece really sets it apart from all the rest.  You see, it's really easy to produce a tone on the pennywhistles with the plastic mouthpiece just by simply blowing. It takes barely any lung strength, but with the traditional pennywhistle you have to blow certain air speeds for certain notes. The high notes require faster air and the low notes require slower air speed. Think about how this would benefit the child as he learns music, he would realize that notes are made up of different frequencies, and that each note requires a different speed to produce the frequency or sound wave of the note. The sound waves match the speed of air, and the child gets to be in control of that sound wave. Another great thing about young children is at the tender ages of 8 through 14, the lungs and heart area are being developed in the human being and the child playing on a traditional pennywhistle will really benefit.

I recommend the traditional pennywhistle in the key of D, which does not have a plastic mouthpiece, but a wooden fipple plug mouthpiece, which gives it a warm wooden sound blended with the tin material.  With this instrument choice, it requires much breath, as opposed to the pennywhistle with the plastic mouthpiece.  I found that Cooperman Company makes a very similar instrument  of the early American pennywhistles.  I  love how they are made of natural tin and wood that give it such a delicate and unique sound. These are the ones I have for sale. No harsh and loud sounds will be made like on the pennywhistles with the plastic mouthpieces, but a delicate soft sound, with a touch of wood, will be made to give it such a breathy and gentle sound with very soothing tones to give a much pleasurable musical experience.

Let's say you or your child really love the pennywhistle and you excel at it, you can move into the world of Irish music. With having the skill of playing the pennywhistle, you can easily play similar instruments such as the Irish Flute in D and the Uilleann. In Georgia, we have the Atlanta Irish Music School. You can participate in group classes, private lessons, camps, workshops, concerts and so much more. You get to participate in competitions and march in the St. Patrick's Day parade. As an adult, you can become a session player, which means you are able to play tunes with other session players around the world, simply by going to local Irish festivals and pubs in your city. You can continue your study in Ireland one day and join live sessions. The Irish have preserved this amazing music and they continue to play it together in social environments around the world.

WATCH THE VIDEO COMPARISON: Pennywhistle, Soprano Recorder, or Pentatonic Flute?

Lauri Bolland, an experienced Waldorf home educator of 21 years states, "Steiner also said that young children should use a "blowing instrument" (not recorder, not wood, just blowing).  He also gave one golden rule which MUST be followed by teachers: loud playing should be prevented form the very first moment.  The pennywhistles Jodie included in the kit are old-fashioned beginner's tin whistles. One of the things that makes these pennywhistles unique from other whistles on the market is the wooden fipple and the "large bore", meaning the windway is large.  The pennywhistle is thick, so it takes a lot of air. Did I say a lot of air?  I meant a loooooooooooot of air. :-)
While this was a little bit of an irritation to me when I first began playing, NOW here I saw the great wisdom in it.  These tin whistles almost can't be overblown or blown too loudly, thereby teaching the children breath control from the very first day. Brilliant."
Read her full review