9 Steps to Becoming a Solid WHISTLER So You Can Use it in Your Solos!

6 minutes read
You have read my article about why it can be cool to add some beautiful and precise whistling to your musical toolbox and you’ve decided you wanna give it a try. That’s great. Well, We all stand now in a different point in our whistling skills. some of us cannot even whistle a single note (then this video is for you) but most of us can whistle basic tunes.
learn how to whistle
Now what we wanna do is to take our whistling skills ahead from the rest of the pack so we’ll be able to add beautiful solos, riffs and melodies to our songs while playing the guitar. Here are 10 tips that will get you there quickly:

1 – First Of All – Proper Posture

Make sure you sit/stand straight and that you do not hunch your back when you are whistling. Just like with singing, when you hunch you don’t allow your diaphragm and your lungs to fully expand and fill themselves with air and therefore you are cutting drastically on your tone, resonance, and volume.

2 – Practice In Your Car Or While Doing Other Things

One of the best things about whistling is that you can always practice it and get better while you are doing other things – this can’t be said on any other instrument because they all need specific practice time in your day. Whistling in your car while you’re on your daily commute is a great idea, especially while listening to your favorite music and trying to accurately whistle along.

3 – Start by Whistling Simple Tunes Directly From The Original Recordings

Listening to the melody directly from the original song and only then trying to whistle it (instead of recalling it from your mind) will do wonders with making sure that you are whistling on-pitch and sound accurate to other people as well.

You can either whistle simultaneously while listening OR listen, stop the recording, and then whistle it without the backup which will be better because you will hear your fuckups much better and you’ll be able to correct them.

whistling whistle
I bet that’s right…
4 – Record Yourself!

Recording yourself trying to whistle along the melody of a song can be a very shocking experience, especially for the more arrogant-ish persons who think that “this is all just BS, whistling is super easy and takes no practice it all.” Sometimes you’ll be amazed at how off-pitch you are and this should give you some great motivation to start working on it. Keep recording yourself regularly to see your progression over time.

Later, record yourself whistling along while playing the rhythm on the guitar, this will give you a great feeling for staying on pitch relatively to another instrument.

John Mayer uses whistling in some of his solos

5 – Plan Ahead And Never Run Out Of Air

Again, just like with singing, make sure to BREATHE between the lines and when you can. Do not run out of air in the middle of your solo, this will definitely not sound good… Also, taking a big “sip” of air just before a challenging very high or very low note will help you nail it without that ugly sound break-down that might happen when you are just starting out with whistling.

6 – Do Your Best To Get Rid Of The “Hiss” And Improve Sound Cleanliness

If you are not sure which “hiss” I am talking about, listen to a recording of yourself and you will probably notice that very fast. The hissing is a “side effect” of blowing air but can be almost completely eliminated with some focused practice – usually, it will be about your lips not being puckered tight enough or your tongue needs an adjustment – play around with some trial and error and see how you sound best.

Don't get too close to the mic when whistling - otherwise - hissing would be very noticable.
Don’t get too close to the mic when whistling – otherwise – hissing would be very noticable.
7 – Get Some Beautifully Crafted Notes By Using VIBRATO

A vibrato sound can add a lot to your whistling, especially for notes that you want to stand out such as the last note of a solo. If you ever played any reed instrument, recorder, flute, trumpet, etc. So the vibrato technique is similar for whistling, it is about slowly “bouncing” your diaphragm, or at least feeling like you’re doing it. Here you can see a different technique that also works well and will be easier for a lot of people.

8 – Work On Your Range And Flexibility By Playing Around With A CAPO
Record yourself whistling along to your favorite song. Now do the same with capo on the 2nd fret to get things higher. Still easy and your whistling sound do not break at any part? The recording sounds good? Awesome. Now get the capo up to the 4th fret. And so on. Play around with it and you’ll notice tremendous results in your whistling pitch range abilities that will enable you to broaden your whistling repertoire.
9 – Learn From The Best!

Pay attention to whistling solos when you come across one! Usually they are a joy to listen to. See what these artists are doing, how they use it, get their vibes, and work on reproducing those solos yourself. Also, check out my article about the 10 best whistling solos for some sweet whistling action.

10 – Use A YouTube Whistling Tutorial

As Always – YouTube can come to your help. If you clicked on the vibrato link so you already saw it, but if not – there is a great Channel by a dude who’s known as “WhistlersBrother”. He put together a whole whistling tutorial for free and I highly recommend checking it out.

musical rhythm
10 Tips for Superior Time Keeping

Another good place with great tips is this website by “Whistling Tom” – A professional whistler.

Yep, that’s his actual job.

~ Golden Performing Tip ~ When Whistling To A Microphone – STAY FAR:

When you come to your next Open Mic show, or any other show that you are going to play, and you are ready to blow people away with your beautiful new whistling skills, make sure your mouth stays at a “safety distance” of at least a few cm/inches away from the mic. Otherwise, this solo will be a huge “hissing” solo and not a whistling solo because mics tend to catch on the hissing very well and this obscures the whistling very badly.

No worries though because from a few inches afar the mic will do a great job of catching your whistling sound and leaving the hissing outside.

This is it, use those techniques and you will notice benefits starting from today!

I would be happy to hear in the comments about your playing around with whistling.

Thanks for reading, peace, have fun!


* Photo is from John Mayer “Where The Lights Is” Live in L.A concert.

Alon Cooper

Alon Cooper

Hey! I'm Cooper, and I hope I can be a helpful friend on your musical journeys. I'm a music artist based in Austin & Amsterdam, playing venues with a band / solo, and trying to learn with the most inspiring musicians wherever I go. In the last 8 years I've lived in Australia, northern Europe, the US and more.

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