Books and Tutors
Below is a list of tunebooks and tutorial book/CD sets covering the tin whistle and low whistle.
The Complete Irish Tin Whistle Tunebook (Book/4 CDs)
121 Favorite Irish Session Tunes: Performed on Tinwhistle (Book/4 CDs)
Here are two different tin whistle tunebooks, by the same author/whistler, each accompanied by four audio CDs of the tunes. So what’s the difference?
First, a comment on the special features of both. The CDs (four of them!) have two different versions of each tune, which multiplies the usefulness to beginners. There’s a slow version to use for repeated practice, and a full-speed version so that you can hear the tune as it would be played at an actual session.
Now on to the individual editions. The Complete Irish Tin Whistle Tunebook may be the best choice for most players; it has a few more tunes (125 vs. 121), and is generally available at a lower price compared to the other edition. Choose the 121 Favorites edition if your emphasis is on playing with others in an Irish session format; this book has added information on accompaniment by the usual session instruments, and includes a 50-page music and chord book.
An Irish Whistle Tune Book
by Tom Maguire
By presenting tunes in easy-to-play arrangements and keys (D, G and A), this edition can meet the needs of beginners learning almost any traditional instrument, including flute, fiddle, pipes, mandolin, or accordion. In all, 42 Irish dance tunes and airs, including compositions by Turlough O’Carolan, are included.
The Penny Whistle Book
by Robin Williamson
Robin Williamson, co-founder of the Incredible String Band, is better-known as a bardic harper than a whistler, but that hasn’t stopped him from putting out one of the best-loved tutors for tin whistle. Beginners appreciate his approach, which is easy to understand right from the start and stays that way. Williamson describes his own simplified fingering system, supplemented by information on modal playing and 56 tin whistle tunes to practice. This edition can simultaneously broaden your playing technique and your tune repertoire. Highly recommended.
The Low Whistle Book (Book/CD)
by Steafan Hannigan and David Ledsam
This book does a solid job covering multiple aspects of the low whistle, including low whistle history, ornamentation (rolls, slides, cranns, triplets, etc.), and even a discography and tips for purchasing a low whistle. Note that while the CD is full-length and contains 80 tracks, it covers only a portion of the tunes you’ll find in the book.
The Complete Irish Tinwhistle Tutor (Book/CD)
by L. E. McCullough
McCullough’s detailed approach to playing Irish tunes on the tin whistle has made this the bestselling whistle tutorial. Among tutors suitable for beginners, this is not the simplest one for the novice to follow, but has technique and style notes that will appeal to more advanced whistlers. An abundance of dance tunes and airs, 72 in all, gives you plenty of material on which to hone your skills.
The Clarke Tin Whistle: Deluxe Edition (Book/CD)
by Bill Ochs
No previous musical experience is necessary to teach yourself tin whistle using this comprehensive 80-page book and 74-minute CD. A total of 83 pieces—from jigs and reels to hornpipes and Highland flings—build your repertoire as you build your skills. Thankfully, there is a recording on the CD of every single tune in the book, and this edition is enhanced throughout with beautiful Victorian woodcut illustrations.
The Essential Tin Whistle Toolbox (Book/CD)
Grey Larsen has published two separate book/CD sets that approach related material from two different angles. Of the two, The Essential Guide to Irish Flute and Tin Whistle is the more comprehensive, and covers adaptations and variations for Irish flute, Boehm flute, and piccolo in addition to the tin whistle. The two audio CDs in this edition feature performances by many modern masters, recorded between 1925 and 2001, and transcriptions of 27 of these recordings are included in the book. Some of the musicians whose performances appear on the CDs include Irish flute legends Matt Molloy, Seamus Egan, and Cathal McConnell, and whistlers extraordinaire Mary Bergin, Joanie Madden, and Séamus Ennis .
Taking into account its exclusive focus on the tin whistle, The Essential Tin Whistle Toolbox may be of more use to the absolute novice, who can benefit from its more detailed descriptions of such aspects as scales, modes, tune types, history, learning by ear, basic through advanced ornamentation, and holding, fingering, breathing, and blowing exercises. Some material from The Toolbox is duplicated in the other edition.