Using a computer to help you practice
You are probably already using your computer to communicate with other whistlers through forums such as Orawhistle and the Indian Whistlers’ Association and to visit the scores of whistlers’ websites with all their whistling samples.
However, your computer can do a lot more to help you practice and prepare for your performances. In fact, it can become your personal whistling trainer.
For example, there are many free Metronome programs available on the Internet. The regular beat provided by these programs helps you make sure you’re whistling with the correct rhythm. Many musicians use metronomes every day with their scales and when they begin to learn a new song so that they can get the basics of the rhythm correct.
A metronome program also helps you to learn how to whistle fast pieces. To do this, you start whistling your music first with the metronome set to a slow speed. Then you set the speed higher and whistle it again. You continue increasing the speed until you find you can no longer keep up with the speed. The next day, you try it all again. You’ll find that over a few days you’ll be able to whistle the piece much faster than you were able to when you started.
If you have a microphone attached to your computer, you can use programs such as Pitch Perfect to help you locate your highest and lowest notes — a very useful tool when you’re trying to learn to extend your range by whistling higher and lower. There are also basic programs (they usually come installed on your computer) that let you record yourself as you whistle. The ability to listen to yourself, to see if you’re hitting the notes on key etc. is extremely valuable to any practicing performer.
My favourite computer-based practice tool is one that lets you take a piece of music and slow it down without distorting it or causing it to go lower or higher. I use a program called Amazing Slow Downer
that I downloaded from the Internet, but there are other programs available that do much the same thing.
I have found that this type of program is very useful in helping me to learn a piece of music properly. One of the best ways to practice a new piece is to whistle it very slowly to start. Then, when you have that perfected, you speed it up a little and try again, and so on, until you have the music perfect and up to speed. A program that slows down music is useful both with the original piece and with the accompaniment you want to use. For example, if you are working with a piece you don’t know well, you can use this program to play the melody from the CD very slowly at first as you whistle along, and then faster until you can whistle perfectly with it at regular speed. Then you can work with the accompaniment, doing the same thing.
“Slow downer” programs are also useful for helping you analyze other whistlers’ whistling samples so you can understand their technique better particularly if they are doing very fast whistling. Slowing the samples down can really help you understand what they are doing so you too can learn how to do that type of whistling.
If the piece you’re trying to learn is complicated, it’s important to work on it in smaller chunks — that way you can really learn it properly. That’s why one of the most useful features about this type of program is that it allows you to “loop” a small section of the music so that you can repeat it again and again. For example, if I were working on the William Tell Overture, I might just work on two or three short phrases of it over an evening, leaving later parts of the piece until I had mastered those first notes.
Using computers is not the only way to practice — but it definitely helps!