On a recent trip to Nova Scotia and Cape Breton Island, Nadiene and I had a chance to try out the new Trans Canada highway and it is really terrific. The leaves had turned bright red and gold and the view down the St John River to Fredericton was just spectacular. We made a nice five day trip through New Brunswick and on down to Sydney for the Gaelic Festival. The Chieftains opened up the festivities on the first night and absolutely brought the house down! A rolling festival of performers was available for the
entire week and performances were scheduled at different towns each day. If you are not familiar with Cape Breton, it is famous for its music and especially for fiddling. We drove the Cabot Trail for a full day and got to see the highlands and mountain bluffs that are just incredible as they drop off into the Atlantic.
Here is a picture of Nadiene in front of the giant 55 ton fiddle at the Sydney Concert hall in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.
I love to play the whistle in interesting places, just to hear the natural variety of sounds that are around us everyplace we go. When I mention about playing in the wind and out in the cold, there is a good reason to be concerned that the whistle you play can be trusted to perform under adverse conditions. If you are in a parade and the wind comes up, is your whistle going to cut out and leave with the first strong breeze? If you are playing for a group and the room is air conditioned, is your whistle going
to go flat? If you are asked to play Amazing Grace at a serious ceremony or a civil function and the wind comes up…is your performance going to be less than amazing?
Here is a very nice e-mail from S. Bartels that makes an excellent point on playing whistles in the cold that I had not considered.
“It’s a pleasure when I play your Low-D whistle during services (with a microphone). I always get compliments and questions on what a wonderful instrument that it is. People like the sound and it’s never too cold to play it. Metal whistles can’t be played cleanly in an unheated church in winter.”
When I checked with my friend Ken Roy and told him about this e-mail, he laughed and said he had forgotten the unheated churches in the winter when he was in the military and stationed in Europe.
The Symphony Slide Flute has picked up quite a few friends along the way this summer. Originally, I recommended Vaseline and a drop of olive oil for lubrication. After consulting with users, I have modified the polyslide slightly and now recommend only a few drops of olive oil. This works very well and makes the slide faster for playing. When the slide flutes were originally designed, they were intended for beginners and a bit of drag was thought to be necessary to give a solid feel to the action of the slide.
More professionals have tried this instruments now and the faster slide action is necessary to make it practical for more complex music. Getting feedback and making adjustments go hand and hand to get an instrument that satisfies more applications.
Another request I feel was unique was from a lady who wanted a set of whistles that individually played the scale. She would have each person play a single note (much like playing the bells in a group) and the eight persons would play a full scale. Instead of making a single note custom whistle, I shipped eight symphony slide flutes with a movable washer to set the pitch on each flute. The big advantage in using the slide flute is being able to set the individual flutes to play any note you wish. Using this set
up, you can set the whistles to play in any key that you wish. I think this is a fascinating concept on playing the whistle for beginning young people and folks that wish to perform in a professional and unique way without having to read music. I hope to give you all an update on this project and how well it works in the near future.
An inquiry about ordering a dog whistle brought up the fact that the Crisis Whistle also makes a great dog whistle. I used a simple set of long and short whistles for our dogs that was unique to each dog. Rugby the Shar-Pei would only come in if I blew a Long low-short High-Long low blast. That was his call and he always came because he knew I meant business when I blew that particular call.
Ripley, the cocker spaniel only responded to three short quick whistle blasts at the high pitch and that was his unique come home call. There has been some very good feedback on the dog whistle and I will be offering an updated version shortly that is pitched a bit lower than the original Crisis Whistle. This should be a versatile whistle that will work under a wide variety of situations and will come with some informational instructions on using the whistle to train your dog.
Feed back on the new Ultra High D, C & Bb has been very good and the whistles have been well received. A second generation run of 250 whistles on this pattern in just about finished. Making inventory is the current priority so shipping time can stay on schedule. Comments have ranged from Very Nice Whistle! to Fantastic! Not everyone sends e-mail or feedback, but the folks that do let you know if you really got it right.
I receive a lot of phone calls on Friday afternoons about whistles. Most are folks are calling to make a decision on which key whistle they should start with. I recommend a Low A or Low G to let them develop the necessary technique and breath control to play the whistle clearly with good definition. A larger whistle gives the player a more stable whistle that plays in a sound range similar to the human voice. This keeps your dog calm and your cat from leaving home while you practice. If you are married, a low
whistle will be appreciated every time you practice and you may get compliments on the piece you are playing without asking “How’s that sound this time?”
Here are a few of the comments I received recently.
My Low D arrived yesterday and it is just great! My wife says to tell you that it is a big improvement over the “Feadog Thing”! She says that “Low and Slow is the way to Go!” My dog is napping in the evening again and there is peace in the valley. Thanks for a great whistle that does everything you said it would. Paul, New Jersey
Played my whistle all summer while camping with the family and drew quite a crowd around the campfire. The old songs like Liza Jane and Wabash Cannon Ball were big applause getters and I was surprised by how many children know these songs today. If you play Acres of Clams, everyone knows they have heard the tune, but no one ever knows the name of the song. If you play the whistle, the first song the women ask for is Danny Boy and of course, I close all my “concerts” with Good Night Ladies. Love my A Traveler
and so do a lot of listeners. Thomas, Virginia
I used my flute head on my Low D at a Centennial event and several parades this summer so I would look authentic. It worked out perfectly for these events and performed under two days of bad weather when the wind was a real problem. I played around the campfire at night for a group of reenacters and everyone was impressed with my flute skills! Not one person noticed I was playing an auto flute and one listener even said it was a very fine instrument and had I had it long? I told them it was an heirloom that I
had recently acquired (which is partly true, as I intend to keep it for a long time).Thanks for great instrument and post this on the web if you like so others can read it. Sue, Maryland
I am doing a project for school. I am using your Website as part of my report on whistles. I would like to know if you can get really rich making whistles. Thanks Jamie, California
I answered this one by saying that I thought it was possible to get rich by doing anything, but if I get fabulously rich from making whistles, I will become a Philanthropist (which was my first choice anyway).
I think the following Squirrel Mail just shows how WhistleSmith has improved International relations with our neighbors in Canada.
The D whistle arrived a couple of days ago, but I was very busy with family matters and just got down to giving it a go. Nice tone and it plays quickly with a good clear sound. Volume is plenty. I believe I could raise New Foundland in the morning from my kitchen door. Thanks for a good trade. Michael, Nova Scotia