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Introducing Tin Whistle

A Group Course for Beginners

Next course starts 29 April 2019.

‘Tis long since, long since, since I heard
A tin-whistle played,
And heard the tunes, the ha’penny tunes
That nobody made!

– Padraic Colum

‘The classes are the highlight of my week. I tried other instruments but always gave up, never found one that I could enjoy as much as I do the tin whistle. So much of it is thanks to Harry, who is a brilliant, expert teacher, finding the perfect pace to develop and always encouraging the group.’
– A. Boda

Click on the tabs for information.

Course Description

Introducing Tin WhistleA simple tube of metal with six finger-holes, the whistle has an expressive range that can encompass everything from the speed and excitement of dance music to the haunting and emotionally-charged expression of slow airs. Wooden and bird-bone whistles a thousand years old have been found in excavations of Viking Dublin, and today’s tin whistle is only the most recent in a long line of whistles in Ireland.

Designed for absolute beginners, Waltons New School of Music’s Introducing Tin Whistle course teaches the basics of whistle-playing, covering such aspects as tonguing, vibrato and slurring, and including some ornamentation and variation. Students will concentrate on slow airs, jigs and polkas, but other forms may be touched on as well. Also covered are some aspects of the history of the instrument and the music played on it.

Course participants will need to have tin whistles in the key of ‘D’ (available from Waltons or any good music shop) to bring to class and to practice with at home. We recommend the Waltons ‘Mellow D’ whistle, which has a wider bore than standard tin whistles, making it easier to play without overblowing.

Introducing Tin Whistle is one of the New School’s group courses. We also offer private tin whistle lessons for students of all ages and skill levels. See Traditional • Folk • World Instruments Tuition for more information.

Techniques Covered

A video demonstration of some techniques covered in the course:

Harry Long

Harry LongAuthor of The Waltons Guide to Irish Music and the Leaving Cert. Music coursebook Soundscapes: Irish Music & Aural Awareness, Harry has devoted a lifetime to the study and teaching of Irish history and traditional music, in all its forms. He has played tin and low whistles for over three decades and performed with the Irish National Folk Company at St. Enda’s National Historic Park, in international music and dance festivals and throughout Ireland both solo and in sessions, and he currently performs with the trad/folk band Coscán. As a teacher he has guided hundreds of students at both private and national schools in Dublin and County Wicklow. Harry has composed and recorded music for RTÉ radio and television documentaries, including Head Waters (1991), on the area where Turlough O’Carolan was born, and A Change of Heart. He has taught Irish music appreciation and tin and low whistle at the New School for thirteen years and has taught tin whistle beginners from all over the world in our summer lessons and courses. His solo whistle playing can be heard on the album Rinka (2002), as well as the Waltons double CDs, Ireland’s Best Tin Whistle Tunes, Volumes 1 and 2 and Ireland’s Best Tin Whistle Tunes for Children.


‘Excellent teaching, and easy learning techniques.’
– T. Carroll

‘A great teacher!’
– G. McCarthy

‘You can teach an old dog new tricks!’
– J. McCollum

‘I really enjoyed learning step-by-step from a master of the instrument, in a relaxed atmosphere.’
– G. McManus

‘Harry’s approach to teaching the tin whistle is brilliant. He started gently (which I needed) and brought everyone along. There’s also a mix of Irish music appreciation that works for me. I’d recommend this class for anyone interested in learning to play traditional music.’
– P. May

‘Harry is a great teacher, with a passion for Irish music that is infectious.’
– K. Murphy

‘I would highly recommend Harry Long to anyone wanting to take up tin whistle. He is a patient and encouraging tutor….’
– V. Ní Dhomhnaill

‘Harry’s teaching methods are excellent, and I could see my own skills improving each week. Great atmosphere in the classroom.’
– M. O’Donoghue

Have you taken – or are you taking – this course? We would appreciate it if you could take a few moments to give us your feedback in a brief online questionnaire about it.


2018-2019 Third Term Course Schedule & Fee

8 weeks, 29 April – 1 July 2019
(No classes on 6 May & 3 June)
Mondays 7 – 8 pm

Tuition Fee: €160

See Summer Introducing Tin Whistle
for the summer version of this course,
taking place in August 2019.


Enrolment for this course requires a completed Enrolment Form and full payment of the course fee. Places are limited to eight, and are available on a first-come, first-served basis, based on the date of enrolment. A number of our group courses fill in advance of their start dates, and early enrolment is recommended.


Purchasing this course as a gift?
Please complete a Gift Certificate Booking Form.


Questions about the course?


What happens after the course?

Two weeks before the end of each Introducing course, participating students will be given options for continuing their tuition at the school if they’d like to do so. Although a continuation ‘Improvers’ course cannot generally be scheduled on the same day/time as the Introducing course, one can be arranged if enough students would like to continue and the teacher has timetable availability. Students can also continue their tuition with private (one-to-one) lessons or ‘partner’ lessons with another class member (see Tuition Options – Private • Partner • Small Group Lessons). We are happy to discuss these options with you.

Trad Slow Sessions

Trad Slow SessionsParticipants in this course are also welcome to attend our Trad Slow Sessions. These are traditional Irish music sessions in all ways except one: the tempo. We play the session tunes at a slower than normal pace (often less than half the speed), so that beginning and intermediate players can more easily learn the tunes and join in the session. Trad Slow Sessions take place once a month on Friday evenings.

See Trad Slow Sessions for more information, a list of current tunes and 2018-2019 dates.

Tin Whistle on YouTube

Introducing Tin Whistle
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