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Learn The Notes Of An Irish D Tin-Whistle

Updated on August 5, 2012

Learning the Tin Whistle

The tin whistle is a simple, yet beautiful, instrument, often associated with traditional Irish music, although it does make appearances in all sorts of styles. In this hub, we will look at the very basics, of how to hold the common "D" tin whistle, to playing a basic scale.

It is a woodwind instrument, with 6 holes. The notes are as follows; D, E, F#, G, A, B, C and D (high).

Holding Position

When holding the whistle, the top three holes should be covered with your left hand, and the bottom three with your right. Unlike guitar and other instruments, this rule applies to both right and left handed people.


When placing your fingers over the holes, be sure to cover them completely. This is best achieved by using the flats of your fingers.

Starting Off

Place your fingers firmly over all the six holes. Sit, or stand up straight, and blow confidently into the whistle. This is a "D" note. If the note sounded weak or it wavered, you may not have all your fingers covering the holes properly, or else you are blowing to hard. Try this a good few times, until you feel you are ready to move on.

Playing A Scale

Once you feel confident with the "D" note, we'll move on to the basic scale.

For the next note, lift your finger of the bottom hole, and blow again. This is the "E" note. Then lift the next finger off, and blow. This is the "F#" note. Continue playing each note, by lifting off the following finger and then blowing. The notes follow on as "G, A, B, C#, D".

This last "D" will sound different to the first note you played, as it is a "High D". It is different to the other notes, as you should have all your fingers on the holes, except for the very top hole. Also, for this note to sound right, you must blow a bit harder than with the other notes.


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