Sunday, October 12, 2014

Tackling the Tin Whistle!

No subject can strike fear into the hearts of Tutors and Moms around the country, like teaching the tin whistle!  =)  Truth be told, it definitely has not been my favorite subject to teach.  It's not that I don't like music - I do!  It's more because I considered music to be something I was not necessarily good at.  I never had formal instruction playing an instrument and I never learned to read sheet music - so obviously, I was never taught any music theory before CC either.  However, it has definitely gotten easier as the years have ticked by and I have learned to find great value in music theory and even in teaching the tin whistle.  Here are a few things that I hope will encourage you and be of help, as you tackle the tin whistle this year.

Why We Teach Tin Whistle/Music Theory

First of all it helps to understand why we even teach tin whistle.  I'm the type of person that the "why bother?" matters to me and helps motivate me.  If I understand the value in what I'm doing, then I am more invested in learning it and doing it.  I couldn't do a better job at explaining "why bother" - then what Mrs. Cannon has done on her blog, so here is her post from Music With Mrs. Cannon  - Check out her succinct explanation for Why Teach Music!

Classroom Helps
  • Use your Curriculum Guide (4th edition is pages 158-175).  It is a fairly scripted guide to teaching the tin whistle.  It tells you the important pieces you need to teach each week.  It also has the sheet music and practice staff paper.  
  • Start the tin whistle session with the kids all blowing their tin whistles' for a few minutes to get it out of their system.  (Great time to explain a cacophony!)  Then require they place them in front of them, on their laps or in a "sleeping bag".
  • Start out your class setting the standard for the next 6 weeks, of how you want the kids to handle their tin whistles' in class - especially while you are teaching and they shouldn't be playing.  There have been some great ideas, like making sleeping bags for the tin whistles (which would be helpful for little ones in particular, that may lack the self-control needed).   
  • Be the Conductor - a Conductor has total control of his orchestra.  You need to have total control of the class while you are teaching tin whistle or you will go home with a headache and dread it each week!  Use commands a Conductor would use to tell them when to pick up their instrument, place it in ready position, play and stop.
  • If you have little ones, then consider using Large Extra Wide Straws  instead of the tin whistles, when you are practicing the fingering exercises.  It will help you avoid a cacophony the whole 30 minutes and a headache at the end of it all!  
  • Remember, the musical alphabet is only 7 letters!  Yay!  That's a big help!
  • You don't ever have to blow your tin whistle if you don't want to!  Let the kids play and you just model finger positions and teach the music theory!  
  • Place a sticker on each child's left hand to help them remember to place this hand closest to their mouth piece (or some would say "on top").
  • Make a tri-fold board of your 6 weeks of tin whistle.  This will help you stay on track and give the kids a visual aide.  Put on your board the things that will help you remember what to touch on each week - take it straight from the Foundation's Guide.  I even put a large staff on mine with removable notes that I can take on and off (with velcro). 

Video Instruction Helps

Check out the Youtube video from the Jesuit Priest!  It's helpful to figure out how to begin to teach the Tin Whistle and feel more comfortable.  I have used it every year for myself.

There is also a website that offers videos for how to play the basic songs most of the kids will be learning this year.  Check it out at
Another webpage that has videos for most of the songs to help with learning them is found over at

Tin Whistle and Accessories
*affiliate links have been placed in this post, to the products suggested* 
Check out this great little book for kids, that you can get from Amazon.  They also offer a Tin Whistle in the Key of D that is just under $10 -shipped to your door (if you have Prime).  There is a Tin Whistle that has a really nice leather looking case for under $15, and for under $10, you can get an existing Tin Whistle case made to look like leather.

Music Theory and Games

Some of these games and books can be used in class and some are just great fun or learning music theory practice at home!

This website has some really great games for class and home too!  Pianimation

I hope that helps you get started!


  1. Beautiful, fun and organized! I love it! Do you have a link to the printables for the trifold?

    1. Unfortunately, I don't have a link because I have not checked to see if all the pictures I grabbed were in public domain or not. I don't want to violate anyone's copyright. If you use PowerPoint it is easy to just google a topic and then grab a photo off of images and make your own visuals to help you remember what to touch on each week. Thank you for stopping by and commenting. Blessings - Colleen

    2. Could you please share where you found several of the's printables for the trip fold board. I have searched and searched or maybe you could email me your saved files I would really appreciate it! It's my first year tutoring and I love this idea.

  2. I'm starting tin whistle on Tuesday! Honestly, I'm excited for it, but I may come back and have to eat my words ;) I am not fantastic by any means, but I do know basic music theory and took piano lessons for years, so that is why I'm not nervous about the content. We will see how I do managing the class and how they do with self control! Thanks for the ideas!

    1. Amy -I am so sure you will do great! Thanks for stopping by! Blessings, Colleen

  3. Just wondering if you will be posting your print outs for the board on CC Connected? They look amazing and I'm not that talented to make my own. lol Thanks!

    1. Hi Simone - I am unable to post the print outs because of copyright, since many of the materials are not mine. I believe you could search and find most of them online already made for you. :) Thats what I did for the most part, to create mine. :)