How to play the Irish tin flute

By | April 11, 2021



Choose a pewter flute that is in the key to D, as it is the most common type and the easiest to learn.

2. Place the braid nozzle between your lips and blow gently.


Try moving your tongue as if you were whispering ‘to’ while blowing. Practice short, fast instances of ‘to’ and long, elongated. This technique is known as ‘tonguing’. When you start playing the instrument, start all your notes with tongue as you blow.


Hold the flute with your left hand on top (closest to your mouth) and your right hand on the bottom. Your left thumb should be on the underside of the instrument. Your left index finger should be placed to cover the first hole (closest to the nozzle), your left middle finger for the second hole, and your left third finger for the third hole. Your right index finger should be placed over the fourth hole, your right middle finger above the fifth hole and your right third finger over the sixth hole.

Play notes


Cover the first hole with your left index finger. Place your finger on the finger so that no air can leak out of the hole. Let the rest of the holes be uncovered. Let the flute rest on the left and right thumbs, which should be on the underside of the instrument. Blow into the flute to play a B-note.


Cover the first two holes (left index and middle fingers) and blow to play an A. Cover the first three holes

Cover the first four holes (left fingers from before plus right index) to play an F # (F sharp). Cover the first five holes (left plus right index and center) to play an E. Cover all the holes (first three fingers of both hands) to play a D.


Leave all holes open and blow to play a C # (C-sharp). Cover all the holes except the top hole to play high D. Now you have played the entire scale: D, E, F #, G, A, B, C # and D1 (high D).


Practice playing individual notes and simple songs every day. The more you practice, the faster you are likely to improve your playing skills. A simple song to start with is ‘Hot Cross Buns’:

Tips and warnings

  • To play an octave higher, finger the notes in the same way, but blow harder.
  • The Irish tin flute, also known as the ‘penny whistle’, is an instrument that belongs to the instrument’s wind family. It originated from the flageolette, a similar instrument that was popular in Europe during the 16th to 19th centuries; It has been associated primarily with Irish music. Learning to play the tin flute can be a fun way to entertain and challenge yourself, and you can even provide musical entertainment to your family and friends. By following a few simple tips and practice, you should be able to play this instrument fairly quickly.