I can't whistle

Can I learn how? I’ve tried for years and years but can never get solid, clear note to come out.

The most I’ve been able to do is a sputtering raspberry, with spittle expelling at the same rate as sound. In order to do this, I retract my lower lip back, stretch my upper down over it while leaving a little gap, and try to manuever my lips into some kind of funnel as I jettison air out of my mouth

And don’t say to just put your lips together and blow. That doesn’t work!! :mad:

Try not retracting either lip. I pucker both up both into an exaggerated cartoon “kissing” position. OTOH, while I can get melodies, the register I’m in is best described as “shrill”.

I can’t even come close to making a noise in that fashion :frowning:

Hmmm. I also have my tongue right up against my bottom teeth, and my cheeks tightened up. I note that if I pull it back, or puff out my cheeks, I can’t get anything.

♫*Not just a little squeak, pucker up and blow
And if your whistle’s weak, yell, “Jiminy Cricket!”

*From: Pinocchio
Music: Leigh Harline
Lyrics: Ned Washington

Well, by that description, you’re doing it totally wrong.

Google ‘learn to whistle’ . Yes, your lips need to be together and somewhat pursed. You need to get the position of your lips and tongue right, and then you need to practice. It took me a year to learn to whistle well, and I worked at it constantly (granted, I was 4).

Oddly, I whistled pretty well as a youngster. Fast forward 30 years, and now I’m miserable at it :shrug:

Sounds like you are blowing to hard. It doesn’t take a lot of air to get the sound. Also, why are you retracting your lower lip? You want to purse your lips like you are kissing, relax the jaw, and leave space between your upper and lower teeth. I’ve never mastered the finger snap though, so I know things can sound easier to do than they are.

Can you whistle between your teeth? It’s usually more of a hiss than a whistle, but it can get you used to controlling the amount of breath you need.

Trying whistling “in” - many people find that easier to start with.

I can only whistle “in”, and from the right side of my mouth (lower lips are skewed to the right, so it’s really the center of the lower lip and right side of the upper). It’s been that way since I was about 5. How I figured out how to do it that way in the first place is beyond me!

I can’t whistle either, but I can cup my hands and blow across a gap between my thumbs to create a wind-howling/owl-hooting sound.

While reading the thread, I tried whistling to see how I did it. And I discovered that it’s not the position of the lips that creates and modulates the whistle, it’s the position of the tongue relative to the teeth and upper palate.

So the advice “just put your lips together and blow” turns out to be completely wrong. If you just put your lips together and blow, you will either get a blowing sound or a raspberry, depending on how close together the lips are.

Here’s how I whistle (it may be that others do it differently):

  • extend the lips forward in a kissing gesture
  • press the sides of the tongue against the upper molars
  • push the tip of the tongue up into the space behind the front teeth, leaving a narrow gap between the tongue tip and the hard palate
  • blow air through that narrow gap

The note is varied by moving the tongue tip, so as to make the gap wider or narrower.

Yes, you can learn to whistle, but as others said, it sounds like a combination of blowing too forcefully and having incorrect lip position. I say forceful instead of hard because how hard you blow does determine volume, but it’s the same sort of difference between singing loudly and yelling. It’s difficult to describe lip positioning any better off than pucking, so you’re best off with googling and looking at pictures. And even when you do it right, it will take a lot of practice to get really good at it. As such, my suggestion, is to find some alone time when you can make noise (commuting to/from work is perfect) and practice. When I used to work as a mover as an undergrad, I spent a lot of that time practicing and actually got pretty good.

That all said, I do think it will be more difficult if you don’t have a natural musical talent. That is, I’ve found that most people I know that know how to whistle are generally also good singers or at least play an instrument, and those I’ve known who’ve struggled didn’t do either. Of course, both are kind of small sets of people–how often do we really ask whether people can whistle–so I can’t give you a great idea of the strength of that trend.

I thought I was alone.


I can whistle except for the fingers in mouth method.

I still can’t whistle, but this is the closest I’ve come!


How old are you? I couldn’t whistle until I was somewhere around 23-24 years old. Then one day, it just came to me. I don’t recall really trying to work on it, it just happened.

What if you can’t kiss? :slight_smile:

I have to make the pucker, but I also have to pull the whole thing back until I can bite my inner cheek near my lips. There cannot be any space between my lips and my teeth, and all holes between my teeth must be covered with either lip or tongue.

I mention this because, while it was a long time ago. I think that was the mistake I always made.

Also, here’s some advice for those who are shrill: try adding some vibrato. That will soften your tone immensely. Just move your tongue slightly to make a slightly higher note (not enough to change the pitch to the next note), and then move it back. I find it easiest to do this on the higher pitches, but you may find it easier on your lower ones. Find a pitch that is easy, and practice on that one. Also, google some videos of people whistling, and try to let your body naturally mimic those.


There are 2 kinds of whistles.

  1. The kind used to whistle a tune


  1. The kind used to hail a cab.

The first one is the pucker up like a kiss style. Purse your lips, place the tip of your tongue at the back of your bottom front teeth and blow gently. That will give you a basic whistle. Practice and experiment from there.

The second whistle has 2 varietis. The “fingers in the mouth” (thumb and middle finger is my style), or “no fingers” (which my old man could do and it impressed the hell out of me) I can only do the fingers method. Here’s how I do it:
Touch your 2 fingertips together like you’re making a shadow puppet and place the fingertips under the very tip of you tongue. Push up with fingers and down with tongue and blow. It might take a while to get the hang of it but keep at it till you get a nice loud whistle.

So, contrary to Lauren Bacall’s advice… put your *fingers *together and blow!