How do you do loud whistles?

I’m talking about the siren shrieks that come out of some people’s lips like at sporting events and rock concerts. I’ve seen some people use their fingers as part of it, but I’ve seen others do it sans digits.

What are the secrets to this? Is it in how you purse your lips? The amount of air you blow? What you do with your tongue? All of these? Something else?

Can anyone give step-by-step instructions on how they do it, plus what common mistakes and pitfalls there might be for those of us who attempt but fail? What are we most likely doing wrong? Blowing too hard? Shaping our lips wrong? Or what?


My top-of-the-line loud whistle actually comes from sucking air in, not blowing it out. It’s hard to explain–purse your lips (sort of like you just ate a lemon) and press your tongue lightly against the bottom part of them, leaving a space above for the air. If you do it right, when you suck in air rapidly it forms a sort of wind tunnel that creates a whistle far louder than I’ve ever heard anyone do with the finger-type of whistle. However, I am the only person I know that does it this way. It’s really quite hard to explain how I can do it, but it makes a great loud whistle.

I’ve never been able to do it the way with the fingers, but this works much better if you do it right.

Here’s my method: I make a circle with my thumb and middle finger (it can be done with the thumb and any finger, really), put the thumb and finger under my tongue so the nails are pointed towards the roof of the mouth and in far enough to be well away from the lips, then blow hard. I takes a bit of practice at first to work out just how far you need to push your fingers in.

Actually, it is very different for everyone. Physiologically speaking the harder you can make the opening the louder the whistle will be. Example: If you let out a normal whistle and see just how high the pitch can get, you’ll see the harder or more compact you make the opening the wind is coming through the higher the pitch of the whistle.

Some people do it with both pinky fingers pressing on the tongue, folding it essencially like a taco shell, and blowing or sucking wind through the small opening. Think when you blow a balloon up and the squeeze the end and let little bits of air out…it whistles at a very high pitch, as opposed to just letting the air out full monty it makes more of a AHEM… passing-gas sound…

So Lib you need to practice. Find what is the easiest for you to do, and practice.
Whats the Latin my mother and all those nuns tried drilling into my head again … Repetition is the mother of study - Repetitio est mater studiorum

I’m getting light headed

Me too, Father. I can’t do anything at all with the sucking, and the blowing is having some mixed results. Is it possible that someone’s lips just aren’t shaped right or tongue won’t curl right or something?

Keep practicing. Just don’t pass out on us! :smiley:

Check out the one-handed whistle on this page:

If those don’t do it, you can always get a book:

Here’s my finger method: extend the index and middle finger of both hands hold them together (make the “boy-scout salute”). Point the fingers up and hold the sides of tips of each middle finger to each other, forming an inverted “V”. Place the fingers in the mouth so that the sides of the lips are held firmly next to your index fingers. Now curl your lower lip inward over your teeth and press it down upon them with both extended fingers. There should now be a triangle formed by your fingers and the lower row of teeth. Now, curl the upper lip in over the upper teeth and press down lightly. Here is the most important part: roll your tongue upward and hold the back of it against the tips of all four fingers. Now, blow. Nothing? Move your fingers up or down slightly. Vary the size of the triangle by widening or closing the fingers forming the “V”, or by moving your fingers in or out. Blow easier or harder. Hopefully you will at some point hear a whistle.

I wasn’t given “the gift”. I don’t think that all people were meant to do this. People at work are all wondering what the hell I’m doing . . .

My pinkie method:

Pretend you’re an old man without your dentures (wrap your lips over your teeth). Curl the tip of your tongue up so it is roughly a centimeter from touching anything (1cm. from the back of your teeth and the roof of your mouth). Touch your pinkies together so that they form a 90 to 150 degree angle pointing towards you. Stick them in your mouth and touch the leading edge of your suspended tongue (not the top, not the bottom, the front edge of your tongue). Push your tongue lightly against your teeth. Blow hard. No gaps between your pinkies and the corners of your mouth, air only goes through the gap between the tips of your pinkies and tongue and back of your teeth. Adjust the angle of your pinkies, the pressure of your tongue, the depth of penetration of your pinkies. I actually find that many combos work, including very light pressure of the tongue and shallow depth of the pinkies into my mouth, and around 120 degrees angle.

After that, then you can do all of your finger combinations, but pickies work the easiest for me.

I have NO clue how to do fingerless whistles.



Push your tongue lightly against your PINKIES!!! Not Teeth!!!

Preview is your friend, dagnammit.

The loudest and most varied way I know how to whistle is “thru your hands”.

For each hand, press the fingers together and curve them slightly. Put the tips of the fingers on one hand into the crotch between the fingers and thum of the other. (It might help to have the finger tips formed into a 2x2 square.) The other hand’s fingers wrap around the back of the base knuckles on the first hand. Try to get an airtight ball going. (Hold your hands up to the light to check.)

The thumbs are parallel to each other, touching at the base and tips but with the joint very slightly apart. Bend them to not quite a 90 degree angle. The ends of the thumbs against the index finger. Again, airtight except for a small gap from the joint going down slightly.

Lips against the thumb knuckles with just a little bit of the gap under the lower lip. Start blowing. Try varying the angle of your breath, the gap between the thumbs and the angle they are bent.

Once learned, you will find you can vary the pitch by making a smaller/larger ball with your hands. You can also do a warble effect by lifting up the fingers of the outside hand.

This whistle can be heard a long way off, esp. if you use the warble effect. I used it as a kid to signal other kids a block+ away. And then later to call my own kids to dinner (and they responded with the whistle).

You can get a much lower pitch using this, easier on the ears of people standing next to you. And lower frequencies travel farther than high ones.

For what it’s worth, my mother has a very loud whistle she does with the tips of her index fingers under her tongue. I’ve asked her on a number of occasions to show me how she does it, and it just plain doesn’t work for me, no matter what I do.

I guess I have to be content with my farting palms.

Practice, practice, practice. I couldn’t whistle loud until I was in my twenties. I saw a friend of mine do it, and figured if she could do it, I could do it. So my whistle was born. Once I did it, I could do it again. It is handy for calling the dogs in from the far parts of the yard.


That one is one that I had forgotten seeing, but now that you’ve mentioned it, that’s how my brothers did it. But they were a lot older than I was. My good brother was 7 years older and my evil brother was 9 years older, so I didn’t get to hang with them very much. Unfortunately, my good brother is dead, and I wouldn’t ask my evil brother the time of day. So, could you explain the nearly 90 degree thumb angle just a bit more? 90 degrees with respect to what plane? Do you mean tilted forward toward the index fingers nearly 90 degrees? Thanks.

Libertarian, the angle is how far you bend the thumb knuckles. So their joints are sticking out some and that’s what you grab hold of with your lips. (Somehow that came out wrong.)