Japan 2014 – Regaining my title 5 years later!

Since I moved to Singapore, North Carolina was just too far away to pop over. Then I found out the 2014 championship is in Japan, so I thought why not try to regain the title 5 years later!

April 6th 2014 I’m going to pull out all the stops. Japan doesn’t usually allow palate whistlers but this year they are so at least I won’t get disqualified right out of the gate!


Making whistling cool again

Someone asked me ‘what do you want to do with whistling’. After a little thought I answered ‘I want to make whistling cool again’.

I feel like there was a time when whistling was cool. Not sure when this was exactly, bur I feel like it was the case, and since then it has become somehow dorky, or a comedy thing. Monkey-Fez I described it as in a previous blog.

What I would like to do is be the go to person for any whistling in contemporary songs. It seems like Geert and other previous whistling people always seem to whistle with an orchestra or classical group. I think that there is scope for popular music which will bring it back to a younger audience.

Scorpions ‘winds of change’ and Guns & Roses “Patience” use whistling well in a cool way – which is the direction that resonates with me most.  Peter, Bjorn and John (Swedish group) had a hit song“Young Folks”, which has a whistling bit in it, but it wasn’t executed well. The whistling quality wasn’t what it could have been…  in that case it would have been good to be the ‘go to’ person to record that.

So not sure how I will go about making whistling cool again, but at least that is the objective…

Post 2011 analysis!

So the results are that I came first in the Pop category, and 3rd in the Classical category, but that actually put me in 3rd overall!

Song Choices were:

  • 1st Round: The Final Countdown (Europe), and The Swan (Saint Saens)
  • 2nd Round: Stairway to Heaven (Led Zep), and Swan Lake (Tchaikovsky)

I was super confident because I whistled the best I ever have. Better than when I won in 2009 , against harder competition (Geert). The audience also reacted really well to them both.

BUT it wasn’t my day. I think that my style (palate / tongue whistling, rather than the traditional pucker style) didn’t resonate with all of the judges (2 of the 4 were different this year than in 2009). Hand on my heart that is the only explanation for not winning again, as I nailed the performances.

The womens category was pretty good. Carole Anne Kaufman was good as always, but the winner this year was ‘Scottie’ Helm who I met in 2009. She can whistle in harmony with herself, and has a great style (check out a video of her from 2009 here). Even if I had managed to win, I think that she may have won overall (if they combined the women and the men – which I hope they don’t do now!)

2010 Champion

The 2010 championship is in China this year. I would have liked to have gone to defend my title, but I am having a baby that month!… so I will sadly miss it.

Geert Chatrou is now a judge too, so my main competition would have been out. But I will be back in Louisberg in 2011!

Geert Chatrou

Some mention on this dutch chat show:  http://tinyurl.com/ylq9ubz. Scroll to 26 mins, and watch from there.

Also here is a short documentary on Geert Chatrou http://tinyurl.com/yg5okxz.

Must be something about the Dutch and whistling!

Letter to Barack Obama

Ok so now that I am the whistling champion it should be only a matter of time before I can meet Barack Obama. Other whistlers have met presidents, so I can too! (insert mini child tantrum foot stomp).  And while I am at it, I can help fulfil one of Mitch Hider’s top 10 wishes (a National Whislting day). So here goes the letter that I will write.

Dear Barack,

I write to you as the newly crowned international grand champion of whistling (2009). The competition, held in Louisburg North Carolina is the only serious whistling competition in the world, and has been going for 36 years. Sadly fewer and fewer Americans are winning the competition (only one of the winners out of the men’s, teen, children’s and women’s categories was an American!).

Japan is now emerging as the country that is the most serious about whistling. As a result, last year’s competition was held in Japan, and I fear that we are in danger of losing this competition from American soil altogether if we are not careful. Lets not become complacent like we did with the America’s cup!

So why am I emailing you? as I am in work mode and you are undoubtedly busy, I will summarise what I think would be a good way forward, and highlight the benefits.

  • The establishment of a National Whistling Day. In these tough economic times whistling makes people happy (I am regularly asked if I am happy simply because I whistle alot – which I am!), and the ‘whistle while you work’ association will promote hard work. 
  • This and other initiatives will promote whistling in America and will mean that the title of Whistling champion can return to American soil (where it was for years until about 5 years ago).
  • Federal government funding for the Franklyn County Arts Council to ensure that the whistling competition remains on American Soil and is not lost to Japan! 
  • An audience with you to demonstrate the whistling that won me the title of international grand champion. This is not without precedent – one of the previous champions whistled for George Bush Snr 🙂

As a side benefit, North Carolina was a very close state in the election. This would be a good news story that would capture the imaginations of North Carolineans, and unite the nation in happiness and patriotism and whistling!. America has led the world not just in ideals and economics, but sport, and culture. Don’t let whistling slip away too, its almost too late!

 Thank you very much for reading this email, I look forward to hearing from you as soon as is convenient.



PS your popularity is so strong overseas that even my 4 year old nephew Jonathan could tell me who the president of the USA was. Unfortunately it wasn’t you, it was Bucket O’Banana.

Mitch Hider’s 10 wishes for whistling

mitch-hider2I got a letter from Mitch Hider (pictured) in which he said some very nice things about my whistling. Mitch was the MC for the whistling comp and said that he only remembers 5 others with the same style as me (that is the tongue whistling, rather than the ‘pucker’ style).

Mitch sent me some good stuff, and its nice to get a letter these days. One of the things that Mitch sent was ‘Mitch Hider’s 10 Wishes for Whistling”… which is below, with my comments afterwards in brackets (or ‘parentheses’ for you Americans)

  1. A puckered planet, a whistling world (not sure how this wish would come true, but I like the alliteration!) 
  2. Community whistling gatherings, choruses and marching bands (hang on thats three wishes in one! next you will be asking for a Kinder Surprise)
  3. A biennial World Congress of Whistling, sponsored by ‘The International Institute for the Study and Development of Whistling as Music, Language and Sound’ (not sure if this institute exists – if not, I think that it should be set up!)
  4. Whistlers-in-residence, whistling ambassadors, whistler laureates (I like this, and would hereby like to put myself forward as a h laureate)
  5. Whistling taught in schools (the good thing about this is that kids can practice wherever they are, so it would help in their musical development, as opposed to an instrument that they reluctantly practice for an hour before they are allowed to go out and play)
  6. Whistling section with every symphony orchestra (cool)
  7. More new recordings by whistlers and reissues of the whistling classics (I agree, and I think that this will come when whistling’s profile is increased).
  8. New musicals and operas featuring whistling (someone needs to write one!)
  9. A live whistler doing Sweet Georgia Brown at every Harlem Globetrotters game (why only the Harlem globetrotters (is it because they are monkeyfez?))
  10. National Whistling Day. Schools and businesses remain open (So help me if I can make only one of these 10 things happen it will be this one! – who do you write to to get these days allocated?! Obama? – well that is a good start).


Most of the people I speak to outiside of the whistling community (and when I say ‘whistling community’ I mean the guys that I met at the competition) seem to think that whistling is kind of kitch / amusing / funny / to be ridiculed.

I was wondering whether it really is or not. I do sometimes feel like a performing monkey (you know the one – with the fez and the energiser bunny cymbals). I think of the Jazz Flute guy in Anchorman (was it anchorman?), which was funny, but again, a little bit monkeyfezcymbals.

So there must be some cool examples of whistling. And there are:

  • The whistling intro to Scorpions’ winds of change
  • The intro to Ennio Morricone’s the good the bad and the ugly
  • The always look on the bright side of life from Life of brian song (ok that is monkeyfez too)
  • Some other song that I can’t remember right now, which has just been released.

Dammit, I am going to have to give this more thought!

The rise of Japan!

The Japanese are kicking ass at whistling. 1/3 of all the finalists in the Adult categoy were Japanese (5/15). They started winning fairly recently, and last year the 35th Annual competition was held in Japan. There are some other competitions that are held in Japan now, and it is only a matter of time before the young guys get older and Japan starts to win everything!

In the 2009 competition Japanese whistlers took out the first prizes in the teen and children’s categories and placed highly in the women’s… What would be cool is to have a whistle-odd between Holland and Japan!

An American woman did win the female grand champion title (Karole Anne Kaufman), but she was pretty much the only American who did (her tone was amazing).

Roadtrip to Louisburg

So the whistling competition is in Louisburg, a 10 hour drive from NY. I set off with my artist girlfriend Lydia Mullin (her art is excellent – see it here), Laura, and Lydia’s friend Anna, who is making a documentary on our trip called “London to Louisburg” (so stay tuned it will be awesome!). We all got along really well and laughed more than I have for a while.

On the first night we had an evening at a cool pub in Philly and stayed at the Latham hotel – in its heyday Led Zeppelin stayed there. After lunch the next day in DC we arrived in Louisburg and stayed in a great place for the next 4 days, 30 minutes from where the whistling competition was (which was in Louisburg College).

Apart from Laura freaking out everytime some long flying bug infiltrated the mosquito net, it was pretty good. We smoke and drank way too much.