Controlling your whistle range can give you the ability to whistle more complex songs and hit specific notes when you are whistling. The technique largely depends on tongue positioning and the ability to curl your tongue up to send the air out through the small opening in your mouth. Learning to control your whistle range is essentially learning how to move your tongue, but correct whistling technique is necessary to have the most control over the pitch.
Put your lips into an “O” position, as if you are saying “oooh.” Maintain this lip shape while you are whistling. You don’t need to keep your muscles tense, but maintain the general position. Roll your tongue up slightly so that the edges touch the inner corner of your top molars. Allow the tip of your tongue to bend downwards, so that it is parallel with your top front teeth. Don’t touch your front teeth with your tongue.
Produce a note by gently blowing out of the hole in your mouth. Think of your tongue as being a track for the air to run down before being ejected out of the mouth. Adjust your tongue position so that it directs the air out of the small hole in your lips. The air runs over the tongue and produces a note as it comes out of the mouth. Practice producing softer and louder notes to gain an intuitive control over the amount of air required.
Use lip balm if you have chapped lips. Chapped lips and a dry mouth can have a negative impact on your ability to whistle. Apply lip balm and moisten the mouth if required. Your mouth shouldn’t be too moist, but a dry mouth is more of an issue.
Blow one steady note in your default whistling position. Hold this note for a moment so you get used to your mouth positioning for this note. You can usually whistle when breathing in as well as out in this position. Move your tongue forward in your mouth to raise the pitch of the note you are producing. Increase the amount of air being blown through slightly if required. Lower the pitch of the note produced by pulling your tongue back further into the mouth. Lower the pitch even further by letting your jaw drop and placing your tongue even lower in your mouth.
Whistle along with the notes on a piano. Singers use this exercise to get used to hitting different notes, and whistlers can do it for the same reason. Play a “C Major” scale, which is all the white notes from C to the next C up, and try to match the pitches.
Lee Johnson has written for various publications and websites since 2005, covering science, music and a wide range of topics. He studies physics at the Open University, with a particular interest in quantum physics and cosmology. He's based in the UK and drinks too much tea.