Getting around the site

If you want to find a particular topic, or simply browse the site, the home page is your starting point: the menu there contains a full table of contents. To get back to the home page from anywhere, click the banner at the top of the page or follow the Home link in the menu or at the foot of each page.

Another way to navigate the site is simply to follow the Next page and Previous page links in the menu and at the foot of each page: this will lead you through the whole mess page by page.

General points about the site

Purpose. As I said on the home page, my aim is to help whistlers improve their understanding of Irish music and how to render it on the whistle. If you're a total beginner, please note that many of your needs (how to play your first notes, fingering charts, etc.) are not addressed here. You will find a few useful resources on the Links page.

The dots. Although I'm not very keen on teaching using music notation, there's plenty of it here, to provide visual clues. But the sound clips are really much more important. So if you can't read music I don't think you'll miss all that much.

A disclaimer. As you read these pages you'll probably find me to be an opinionated old bugger. If so, feel free to take me with a pinch of salt. I don't claim to be an authority on whistles or Irish music. I'm merely what I consider as a decent whistle player and someone who has been around Irish music for a long time, and has done a fair bit of teaching.

Patchy. There are many topics that I would like to cover in this site, but don't - yet. And probably never will. Life is short. However if you would like to see a page on any subject, let me know. You can also send me a question by email via the Ask Brother Steve page. If I think I have a useful answer, I will post it it there. Don't hold your breath, though.

For more information about me, see About the author.

Further study

This site is far from a complete guide to whistle playing. To acquire the "intangibles" of good style requires familiarity with the playing of fine players. As a start, you can visit our transcriptions pages, largely the work of Peter Laban, with help from Brother Steve and colleagues. You'll find clips, notation, and comments.

Site layout and older browsers

In November 2004, the site was redesigned using the layout you now see, replacing the earlier frames-based version. While the layout was designed with modern, CSS-compliant browsers in mind, all elements should be visible - and not too ugly - in older browsers such as Netscape 4.xx. Opera 6.x users should upgrade to a later version to put our young whistler in the banner above where she belongs.

If your browser is very old, the PNG image files used for the music samples may not display. I have used PNG (portable network graphics) format because it has some advantages over GIF, including the fact that it is free of copyright issues. I haven't yet had a complaint about this, which may merely mean that people using Netscape 4.03 or MS IExplorer 3.xx or earlier are too ashamed to admit it.

Sound clips

Sound clips are now posted in the popular MP3 format only.

The mp3 icon at the left means there is an mp3 sound clip you can listen to. Click on this icon to hear a short clip.

If you want to be able to listen at leisure, or if you're having trouble playing the sound files directly from your browser, right-click (or equivalent) on a sound link and save the clip on your hard disk.


To refer to note lengths, I am using N. American terminology. For those in Europe and the Antipodes, read "crotchet" for "quarter note", "quaver" for "eighth note", etc. I usually say "bar", but if I say "measure", read "bar". Some of the terms I use to describe whistle techniques are of my own invention.


The layout of this site uses a CSS stylesheet designed by BlueRobot. I hand-code the pages using Jan Goyvaert's wonderful text editor, EditPad Pro.

To produce the music examples, I use ABC2Win by Jim Vint, a $20 utility that allows you to create, edit, print and save a graphics image of tunes using abc notation.

Sound files are recorded at my PC using GoldWave by Chris Craig. For most, I used a Generation D whistle.

Updated 14 October 2004