Comments on White Whistles and Where the Whistlers are Whistling!

Here is an excerpt from John Hughes long letter on some of his observations on whistle color(especially white instruments) and other interesting whistle observations. I found this letter to have several interesting points and I will add them to the revue on the Low whistles as soon as I can.

“There are several advantages to owning a white instrument.

I find that students keep these instruments cleaner and ready to play, because dirt shows up more readily on a white instrument and it looks either clean and white or it looks dirty. Case closed.
A white instrument plays cooler in summer heat and stays in tune better when exposed to direct sunlight. I make it a point to instruct students to place their instruments out of the sunlight when not playing and to remove them from auto windows when traveling. Leaving any instrument in the direct sun, whether it is plastic or wood is not a good idea and can cause them to warp or even split. Here in the south, you can get a burn from a metal mouthpiece left in the sun and you won’t soon forget that!

You can find a white instrument (even if it is only the mouthpiece that’s white) easier when laid down. Black and dark brown instruments tend to get lost and at best are hard to find. I have searched for hours over the years trying to find lost instruments that were often right beside me. Outdoors events with a fife and drum corps are always a matter of someone losing their fife or drumsticks by laying them down on the ground and leaving them behind. I recommend dipping your drumstick ends in some white paint so they show up!

White instruments never need more than a good cleaning and they look like new. Paint, coatings, polished aluminum and even chrome have issues after being handled a lot. Brass looks okay when everyone polishes, but it looks terrible in a group if even one person prefers to have their instrument have a patina. Patina just means unkept and not polished in a band.
I appreciated the time you spent on the phone with me discussing the Fife & Pail concept. Will get back to you as soon as the Town has a chance to discuss the matter and I believe we will go with the idea because the kids need an activity like this that could be done all year round.”

Several folks have written about where they play their whistle. I would publish their letters complete, but I always ask if it is okay first and that takes a lot of time. If you want something posted during the month, please remember to state that it is okay to publish your letter in its entire form.

A lot of people play their whistle at funerals and wakes. Out of respect for the departed and also because there are not enough pipers around. I often remark that the pipers of our land must be tired out from piping at funerals, never mind all the parades they have to attend. I know that I hear more people say they have heard someone playing the whistle at a funeral than I have ever heard before. If you have not played for a funeral, you better practice outdoors under real conditions before you show up for your
first performance. The wind can make your music go away if you have the wrong whistle in your hands.

At least one person is financing their college by playing whistle at dedications, funerals, and other events. What better incentive to practice than to have your own business that furnishes a wonderful service to the community as well.

Many folks have found the wonders of echoes in playing their whistle. The echo coming back over at lake, the way the whistle sounds coming back from heavy woods over an open field, and the sounds you get in an open alley when it is quiet on a Sunday morning where all mentioned in the past month.

The amount of phone calls discussing various types of music and folks with ideas on whistle music in general has been very interesting. The whistle is being played in every type of music imaginable. Delta Blues, reggae, calypso, traditional, blues, and many more have been mentioned lately.

Many of the calls pertained to ideas that individuals have for new or different variations on the whistle. If you have ideas for an instrument don’t hesitate to call and discuss your idea. The data base information is getting larger every month and an answer to one of your questions may be available. Really secret projects will stay secret…that’s why I’m in Maine on top of a ridge.


More people than ever are playing their whistles during the Holidays! Some players are in symphony productions, some in stage shows and musicals and the whistle will be played with choirs and caroling on Christmas eve this year according to the folks ordering new whistles on the phone and over the website. I know there have been a lot of whistles ordered in green and red which I think is an indication of what they will be used for. I think this is just great! “The More the Merrier” as the old saying goes.