In the wrong hands the Irish tin whistle can be a weapon of mass disruption.
But these aspiring players have started on the right foot, learning the basics yesterday from skilled player Johnnie Spillane at the Illawarra Folk Festival Summer School.
Under Spillane’s guidance, the workshop class of 13 novices was soon hitting all the right notes – and in unison.
Ken Bates of St Georges Basin is already a master of the harmonica and the ukulele, but yesterday took a walk on the Celtic side.
Mr Bates said the tin whistle had proved a challenge as it involved a completely different skill set to his usual instruments of choice.
‘‘I find it a very difficult instrument to play. I’ve tried many times to learn to play it,’’ he said.
‘‘You don’t have to blow as hard with the tin whistle as with the harmonica.’’
Isabella Thomas, 13, of Wollongong, was passing by the Northern Illawarra Uniting Church at Bulli when a sign for the festival workshops caught her eye.
She admired Celtic music and gravitated towards modern musicians with a folk style.
The Illawarra Folk Festival officially kicks off today, starting with a Mediterranean Lunch Concert.
A nine-act charity concert starts at 3.30pm.
Visit illawarrafolkfest ival.com.au/program for the full program.
FOLK FEST HIGHLIGHTS
Australian folk music legend Mike McClellan.
■ The Woohoo Revue, influenced by the likes of Balkan folk music, gypsy, jazz and swing.
■ Acclaimed Australian blues guitarist Fiona Boyes.
■ ARIA-winning bluesman Jeff Lang.
■ Shameless Seamus and the Tullamore Dews, headed by Midnight Oil guitarist and songwriter Jim Moginie, with friends.
■ Award-winning indigenous singer Christine Anu performing in the build-up to the festival finale at 5.45pm.
■ Celebrated English one-man band Rory McLeod.