Log in

Login to view tutorials

Username *
Password *
Remember Me

Free Whistle Tutorial

Thank you for signing up to our free tutorials. We hope you enjoy your tutorial and trust you will gain some insight as to how our tutorials may help bring your playing skills to the next level.

Brian Finnegan - Tin Whistle

Brian FinneganBrian Finnegan, from Armagh, started playing the Tin Whistle when he was eight years old. Inspired by two great teachers, Brian and Eithne Vallely (of the Armagh Pipers Club), he took up the flute at the age of ten and won his first All-Ireland Fleadh Cheoil a year later. He formed his first band, Upstairs In A Tent, in 1992, and for the next four years toured Ireland, Britain and Europe with the group. In 1993 he released his first solo album, ‘When The Party’s Over’ (Acoustic Radio)

For the past five years Brian has been touring the world with the innovative Anglo-Irish band, Flook, who have recently released their second album, Flatfish, to great critical acclaim. Flook are a flute-and-whistle based band with the twin flutes and whistles of Brian Finnegan and Sarah Allen swapping melody with harmony and bouncing off each other in improvised, percussive runs.

Outside of band work Brian has continued to explore and expand his musical voice. He has collaborated with leading jazz musicians in Newcastle-upon- Tyne’s well known Big Fest. In March 1999 he was invited to India for an extensive tour of the country with two of its foremost flute players. In February 2000 he took part in a tour of the Gulf, playing with The Kuwaiti National Folk Orchestra. He also participated in "Excalibur", a Breton production that topped the pop charts in France.

Brian is a much sought after teacher of both whistle and flute. He has been a regular tutor at Folkworks Summer Schools in Durham, and at Burwell House in Cambridgeshire. He has also tutored on the Post-Graduate Masters Degree course in Traditional Music at the University of Limerick.

The Scotland on Sunday said of Brian: "...a thrilling talent, marvelous technical dexterity, bold musical imagination and urgent tone combining in playing of breathtaking suppleness and delicacy"

Songlines magazine said of Flook: "It is, quite simply, one of the most stunning contemporary Celtic albums you’ll hear this or any other year" Songlines, Spring 2000 Brian plays Colin Goldie Whistles.

How To Hold The Tin Whistle

How To Hold The Tin WhistleThe most important thing to work on from the very start is covering the holes completely. Air escaping under the fingers will cause the note to break up and this will lead to poor tone. When holding the whistle cover the holes with the pads of the fingers, somewhere between the tip and the first joint, and hold the fingers flat.

Place your left thumb on the back of the whistle between the top and the second hole. Cover the top three holes beginning with your left index finger, which will be the note B, then your second finger for the note A, and finally, the third finger, which will sound the note G.

You can reverse this if you are left-handed.

Beginners - The G Scale.

All major scales follow the same pattern of tones and semi-tones (Tone Tone Semi-Tone Tone Tone Tone Semi-Tone), so, to build a scale on G for example you start on G and move up using the sequence above. This key is a little harder because the C is natural, not sharp. It does take time to get used to this but, in time, you won’t even notice your fingers moving to the correct position.

The G Scale

Play Video ⬇

Beginners - Búachaill ón Éirne.

This is the first of the airs in G. Note the little triplet run from G up to B in the second half of the tune. Also notice the extensive use of vibrato, particularly on the long notes. It is the air of a beautiful song.

Búachaill ón Éirne

Play Video ⬇

Advanced - The Old Bush.

Notice here that there is a C# and C natural in the second bar. This is a common feature of traditional tunes because of their modal nature. Listen to how I use the tongued triplet here. Unlike most other ornaments the tongued triplet can’t be seen, so listen carefully and try to get one in.

The Old Bush

Play A Part ⬇

Play B Part ⬇

Play Full Tune ⬇