Week 1 – The Wolf Whistle

Total Time: 2 hours

Total Cost: Free

Welcome to the first official 5 and 50!

For my first challenge I wanted to do something fun, quick, and easy. Starting out with a victory seemed like a good idea, and I wanted a little more practice with the 5 and 50 format before doing anything hard-hitting.

One cool trick I’ve always wanted to learn was the “finger whistle”, that thing you see when people stick their fingers in their mouth and unleash a blast of sound which can be heard from over a crowd. There are many different forms of the finger whistle, officially known as the Wolf Whistle, but the one that worked best for me was the standard 4-finger technique.

After watching a few Youtube tutorials it took me 2 or 3 minutes of fiddling around before I could produce a faint whistling sound. It was another 20-30 minutes of slobbering and spitting on my computer monitor before I finally located the magic combination of finger, tongue, and lip positioning necessary to unleash my first true and mighty Wolf Whistle. Unsurprisingly, after I removed my fingers from my mouth and tried to assemble the whistle again I let out a dud. It wasn’t until after an hour or more of practice (and some more Youtube research) that I was able to put together all the components of the whistle consistently.

The final piece of the puzzle was discovering a setup to assemble the correct finger/tongue/lip shape every time. I describe the three step process for assembling the Wolf Whistle in my tutorial below:

I took notes throughout the learning process, jotting down each time I discovered something new. I wrote down each mini-breakthrough I had while learning the whistle right as it happened. Since I only recently completed the learning process, my hope is that all of the little things I discovered on my way to performing the whistle would be useful for someone trying to learn it themselves. Here are my notes:

  • Your middle fingers need to stay in contact with each other inside your mouth, and your pointer fingers need to seal the sides of your mouth so that air can only escape out of the middle.
  • Your tongue needs to be folded back into the correct for position for any kind of whistling sound to be achieved. This requires some fiddling around to find, but the general idea is that you need to use your fingers to fold the front 25% of your tongue back. If done correctly the tip of your tongue will touch the middle of your tongue while your fingers press firmly down on your tongue’s underside. I use my hand to demonstrate the correct tongue shape in the video.
  • The lips should close on your fingers around the first knuckle.
  • The opening at the front of your mouth needs to form the correct shape, but this shape isn’t easy to describe. I think the it might be slightly different for each person. The shape that worked for me involved folding my lips back over my teeth a little bit, “grandpa style”. If you can’t find the shape, slowly move your jaws and lips around while softly blowing air until it starts to make a whistling sound.
  • If you’re sure that you’re doing all of the components of the whistle correctly but still aren’t achieving the whistling sound, try changing up the shape of your mouth and the positioning of your tongue.
  • The final missing piece for me was the setup -the 3 step process that I outlined in the video. By performing the 3 steps in sequence, I was finally able to replicate the correct whistle shape every time.

It took me roughly 2 hours of practice to get to a point where I felt that I’d truly learned the Wolf Whistle. With the remainder of my time I tried to learn other whistling techniques but I wasn’t able to make any major headway on them by the time my 5 hours wrapped up.

The obvious downside to the technique I learned is that it involves putting your fingers in mouth. Though some of the appeal of the whistle is that it looks kinda cool to use your fingers to make a loud sound, your hands may not always be clean enough to stick in your mouth. The appeal of the two other techniques I tried to learn is that they don’t require you to stick your fingers in your mouth.

In the first technique slobber-less technique, you pinch your lower lip and suck in air. It’s really supposed to be that simple, but after 30 minutes of practice I was unable to produce so much as a faint whistling sound. That said, when I showed this technique to my friend he was able to make a whistling sound in seconds. Here’s a tutorial so you can try it out yourself:

The next technique is by far the coolest, so I put a good bit of practice into it before giving up on it at the 5 hour mark. If done correctly you can produce a very loud whistling sound without any germs or drool to speak of. Mastery of this technique also allows you to make some really cool bird chirps and R2D2 sounds.

I was only able to produce a very modest whistle with this method after nearly 2 hours of practice in front of a mirror. I might attempt to learn this method in the future, but as far as this 5 and 50 is concerned I was unable to learn it in the allotted time. Here’s the most useful tutorial I was able to find on the fingerless whistle:

I hope you enjoyed my very first 5 and 50! I certainly enjoyed the project and am already looking forward to next week’s challenge. I’ve decided that the first month of 5 and 50 will be themed around learning new skills, so next week I will attempt to tackle the “mental abacus”.

See you guys next Sunday!

– Aleco Pors

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