Skip to Content

Staff Picks Category: How to

The Penny Whistle Book by Robin Williamson []



A couple months ago, I saw The Penny Whistle Book come up to the Arts & Music library and happened to notice that it was penned by the Incredible String Band’s Robin Williamson.  He was essentially one half of the group, sharing vocal and songwriting duties with Mike Heron.  At this time I also was thinking about the arrangement for a song of my own and was in need to have a flute or whistle type sound for a two note hook in the final chorus (a la “Penny Lane”).
The sensible thing to do I thought was to go to check out the book and head to Downtown Sounds in Northampton and see how much one of these whistles costs…  Turns out they’re very cheap (something like $10).  I cracked the book open, read the introduction and was making sounds and playing scales right away.
The slim Penny Whistle Book is filled with traditional American and British tunes with accompanying illustrations that reference the era in which the pieces were most likely composed.  The sheet music is also perfect for playing instrumental accompaniment like guitar or banjo because chords are placed at the top of the staffs.
The penny whistle is a fun and simple instrument to play.  You really don’t need to be able to read musical notation or have special technique in operating a mouthpiece.  You just place your fingers on the holes and blow!

Tagged: , ,