10 Useful Tips to Help Your Child Practice the Tin Whistle at Home
1. Find a Good Practicing Spot. Generally, it’s good to look for a place where you won’t be interrupted and where you won’t disturb others. Look for a room in your house that is relatively quiet to borrow for a few minutes.
2. Practicing daily for short amounts of time is far more beneficial than practicing for long periods once or twice a week. Pupils will develop better muscle memory and playing the tin whistle will become easier. Pupils should aim to practice for a minimum of 5 minutes every day but longer if they are enjoying it and have more time available.
3. Isolate challenging parts of the piece of music. Sometimes pupils play the whole piece of music and force through the sections they find challenging which results in making a lot of mistakes and can be quite frustrating to play. Instead, pupils should isolate the challenging sections and practice these sections slowly. Then, when they are feeling more confident they can play through the whole tune.
4. Beginners who find it difficult to fully cover the holes of the tin whistle should practice in front of a mirror. Practicing in front of the mirror is a great way to ensure you are completely covering the holes with flat fingers (knuckles should not be standing up and pupils should be using the pads of their fingers, not the very tips near the nail).
5. If possible try to set aside some time to revise easy tunes that they have already learned. This can be great as a warm up to build up their confidence before they practice their newer pieces of music which may be more challenging.
6. Praise your child’s practicing and playing. This will make your child feel proud of themselves and will further encourage them to improve. Rather than feeling the pressure of playing a piece perfectly, try to focus your child’s attention on improvement. Remind your child that it’s ok to make mistakes and all they have to do is try their best. Remind them that they will improve over time and with plenty of practice.
7. Play in front of others: Whenever possible encourage your child to play for others such as friends and family members. This will provide another opportunity for your child to feel confident and build their confidence and self-esteem when they are praised for their playing.
8. Learning tunes that they want to play themselves: Pupils will really advance if they try to figure out how to play tunes that are not being thought in school. Some children try to learn these extra songs or tunes on the tin whistle using their ‘ear’ and others might learn them from sourcing other sheet music or even learning from the internet e.g. tutorials on you tube. Pupils often get the opportunity in school to play these self-taught tunes which builds confidence and self-esteem for the performer and inspires other pupils to try to learn extra songs/tunes themselves.
9. Composing their own tunes: Although composing is taught in school it is very beneficial to encourage your child at home to compose their own tunes on the tin whistle. This will further develop their musical ear, provide an audience to perform their composition in front of and develop their artistic/musical creativity.
10. Playing with others: If you can play a musical instrument try to play along with your child. You can teach them new tunes and they can teach you tunes that they have learned. Alternatively your child can play with other family members such as siblings, cousins, grandparents etc. if they also play an instrument. Your child can also play with their friends for fun when they go to each other’s houses on play-dates.