Many people dip into traditional Irish music with the penny whistle. If you grew up in an Irish or Irish-American household, learning may not have been optional. Also called the tin whistle, Irish whistle, or simply whistle, the penny whistle is a low investment for people who may be hesitant to commit to playing Irish music.

The instrument became popular after mass production techniques in the mid nineteenth century made them more affordable. Such innovation was just in time for the Gaelic Revival, which saw a revival of Irish music when they really became popular. Today the penny whistle is still a popular instrument in traditional Irish music.

The penny whistle is relatively easy to start with and the fingerings are near identical to other six hole flutes. Some musicians also learn to play the uilleann pipes, which has similar fingerings and bears some similarities to Scottish bagpipes. But beware, mastering this little instrument is tougher than it looks.

Unless you’re naturally gifted or already play some wind instruments, your first note (or notes) will likely be less melodic and err on the squeaky side.

If you don’t already know your scales, time to drill and kill!

Time for some help. Off to the internet to google to determine what mistakes you’re making and how to fix them. The website Chiff and Fipple contains many helpful tips for beginners as well as information for more seasoned players and some just plain funny jokes.

 Your pet may or may not support you in your endeavors.

 Time to find a place where you won’t disturb family, roommates, neighbors, etc.

 Keep practicing!

Success at mastering your first song (which was likely “She Moved Through the Fair.”)

 On to harder tunes with more complex fingerings.

 Getting good, maybe time to record a video and post it to youtube.

Time to join a session!