I have had several groups of children in to visit and discuss the possibility of starting a group to play the whistle. One of these children later came back to visit and told me that her playing had improved a lot by playing in front of her mirror at home. She puts her sheet music up beside the mirror for reference when she practices and can now see her fingers on the whistle in the same direction as the music chart that came with her whistle. She enlarges all her sheet music up to 11×17 inches on a photo copier so it is a very readable size to play from. This extra bit of effort has really improved her playing in a few weeks time. When you play in front of a mirror you gain confidence about your appearance when playing your instrument. You can practice the way you react to the music and show your moves with the whistle just like big time entertainers do. Tom Jones would be pretty dull if he sang and never moved! When learning a piece of music with someone else, it is really neat to stand side by side and be able to observe what the other player is doing from the same position. If you stand face to face everything is backward…no wonder I had so much trouble learning banjo chords from my Granddad. You will pick out your fingering mistakes much faster and learning some alternate fingering is improved. I find that everyone that tries playing in front of a mirror is able to learn the repetitious phrases in music and relate to them faster . Well, anyway give the mirror a try and you will be amazed at what a good looking performer you are and how interesting your whistle playing performance is!
For many years we had very few birds in the winter. About ten years ago my wife and I decided to make the feeding area a little more private and protected from the wind and it has paid off wonderfully. The birds in the photos are mostly Red Poles from the Arctic that visit Maine in the winter and return north in the spring to nest. In addition to Red Poles, we have a flock of about two dozen Mourning Doves that winter in our woods, six Blue jays that harass everything, a flock of Chickadees and several Nuthatches that drop by. The Downy woodpeckers hammer at the bird feeders and stumps on a regular basis picking flies out of the bark and digging for grubs. The sock with all the birds is filled with Nyjer seeds, the barrel feeder has sunflower seeds and the trough gets a full ration of mixed bird seed. Occasionally we add suet squares for the Blue jays and woodpeckers as an extra treat in extremely cold weather. This year we fed the birds about 100 pounds of seed per month to keep them happy. When spring comes, the Goldfinches and Hummingbirds will arrive with Robins and our resident family of crows that patrol all the back fields looking for pests. They never bother the garden or the other birds, so no one bothers them in return.
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