Free Irish Tin Whistle Classes at Tir na nOg


Irish Session musicians at Tir na nOgBeginning Monday, May 4, Alan Baker will be offering a free, hour-long tin whistle class (6-7 p.m.) in "The Cottage" at Tir na nOg.

Students are encouraged to use their new skill during the weekly Irish Jam Session on Sunday afternoons at Tir na nOg, and the goal is to have an ensemble of whistle players ready for a performance at the 100th anniversary of the Easter Uprising commemoration in Raleigh on Easter weekend at Tir na nOg next year. Plus, students get a 10% discount on food the nights they attend class.

History of the Tin Whistle

The tin whistle is also called the Irish whistle, penny whistle, feadóg stáin, and English flageolet. The tin whistle, in its modern form, is from a wider family of fipple flutes, which have been seen in many forms and cultures throughout the world. Almost all primitive cultures had a type of fipple flute, which is most likely the first pitched flute-type instrument in existence. A possible Neanderthal fipple flute from Slovenia dates from approx 60,0000 B.C. Written sources that describe a fipple-type flute include the Roman and Greek aulos and tibia.

In the early Middle Ages peoples of northern Europe were playing the instrument: Irish Brehon Law describes a flute-like instrument. Fragments of 12th-century Norman bone whistles have been found in Ireland, and an intact 14-cm Tusculum clay whistle from the 14th century has been found in Scotland. In the 17th century whistles were called flageolets, a term to describe a whistle with a French-made fipple, and such instruments are linked to the development of the English flageolet, French flageolet and recorders of the Renaissance and Baroque periods.

Gaining popularity as a folk instrument in the early 19th century, the tin whistle is now an integral part of several folk traditions. The tin whistle is most popular in Irish traditional music. Whistlers such as Mary Bergin, Paddy Moloney, Sean Potts, Micho Russell, Joanie Madden, and Sean Ryan have played an important role in establishing the tin whistle as an important main-stream Irish traditional music instrument.