Is there any advantage or disadvantage to the position of a tin whistle (or penny whistle) on (in?) the mouth?

Some background: I play flute, so nothing in the mouth. I tongue on various parts of my mouth depending on what "effect" I'm going for. I can even double tongue (to some extent) using "tih-kih" techniques. The hole I blow through for flute is just about in the centre of my lips. I used to play recorder and have played saxophone in the past, but I would put both of these instruments in just about the (horizontal) centre of my mouth. That is, if I was wearing a tie, the recorder would have lined up with the tie and my head would be straight. The saxophone joint system allowed me to get something comfortable, but I presume saxophone is quite different since it involves a reed.

I've just seen a (pretty good to my ear!) tin whistle player who had their whistle coming out of the side of their mouth, and the position of the instrument was almost like a flute. It wouldn't line up with their school tie at all! Is this a good technique or does it even matter? And, in a similar vein, does it matter for tin whistles or recorders?)

I found a short-ish thread on reddit but there was no conclusive answer with some people suggesting it depends on the make of the instrument whether it changes the tone or not, and some saying that they find the hand position easier if the instrument is more towards one side or the other. It might be that the correct answer to this question is: it's a matter of the individual player's opinion/physiology. However, if people opt for side-mouth playing because it's more comfortable, would they definitely lose anything?)

1 Answer 1


It can be advantageous, to be able to better hear what you're playing in a noisy multi-instrument session, as it gets the fipple closer to one ear.

I'm not sure going so far to one side that it almost looks like a flute would have any advantage for fingering. For tonguing I would have thought that going away from the centre of the mouth would be unhelpful.

There are many excellent players whose whistle doesn't exactly line up with a hypothetical necktie, although I'm sure a 'proper' taught posture would be perpendicular.

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