How to Whistle With Your Fingers

by Brett & Kate McKay on April 8, 2012 · 213 comments

in Just For Fun, Manly Skills

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve wanted to know how to give a commanding whistle with my fingers in my mouth. You know. The kind you see people give in old movies when they’re hailing a taxi or trying to get the peanut guy’s attention at the ballpark. It just seemed like a cool skill to have. But alas, I’ve spent my entire young and adult life frustrated that I couldn’t uncover the secret to this age old trick.

Many of you out there reading the blog feel the same way. Believe it or not, covering how to whistle with your fingers has been one of our most requested articles. Most of the emailers shared how they had a grandpa or dad who knew how to give a loud, forceful whistle with their fingers (in my case, my mom was the master of this kind of whistle). Like me, they thought it was a cool skill, but one which unfortunately hadn’t been passed onto them.

So I finally made it a goal to once and for all figure out how to whistle with my fingers, so that I could create an AoM tutorial on the subject. After just forty minutes of annoying my wife with intense practice, I finally mastered the skill that had eluded me since I was eight years old. Achievement unlocked!

Below, I show how you too can whistle with your fingers.

Choose Your Finger Combination

Your fingers do two things that allow you to create an ear-piercingly loud whistle. First, they keep your tongue pushed back, and second, they keep your lips tucked back over your teeth. The pushed back tongue and tucked lips will create a bevel which will produce a tone when you blow.

There are a myriad of finger combinations you can use to get the desired effect. I’m going to show you my two favorites.

Two-Handed, Middle/Index Finger Combo

Extend your middle and index fingers on both hands, keeping them close together, while your thumbs hold down your ring and pinky fingers.

Place your two middle fingers together, forming an “A” shape. [See Fig. 1]

I feel like I get a louder and more forceful whistle using this finger combo.

One-handed, O.K. Sign 

This combo allows you to whistle with just one hand. All you need to do is form an “OK” sign with either your thumb and index finger or thumb and middle finger.

Wet and Tuck Your Lips Back Over Your Teeth

Lip placement is key. Give your lips a quick lick to wet your whistle. Tuck your lips back over your teeth. It’s what you do when you pretend you’re an old man without any teeth. Your lips need to cover your teeth in order to whistle successfully. [See Fig 2.] Feel free to adjust how much or little you tuck your lips back. It’s going to vary from person to person.

Your fingers will help keep your bottom lip tucked over your teeth.

Push Tongue Back Into Mouth With Fingers

This step is master key of successfully whistling with your fingers and also the trickiest to get right. It was for me at least.

Some people say you just need to push your tongue back in your mouth with your fingers. That advice was a bit too vague for me.

What worked for me was folding the tip of my tongue back on itself and holding it in place with my fingers, as you see in Fig. 3. Here’s how to do it with the two-handed, middle/index finger combo.

  • Place the tip of your fingers underneath your tongue right at the tip.
  • Push the tip of your tongue back with your fingers. You’re basically folding the first 1/4 of your tongue back on itself.
  • Push your tongue back into your mouth until your first knuckle reaches your bottom lips.

Same principles apply if you’re using the one-handed, O.K. sign combo.

Again, this method worked for me. Others do it a little differently–often pushing the tongue in without really folding it over. Experiment to find what works for you.

Blow

With your fingers in your mouth, keeping the tip of your tongue folded and lips tucked back over your teeth, close your mouth around your fingers. You want to make sure you have a complete seal around your fingers.

Here’s how it should look:

Give a soft blow out your mouth. You should feel the air only go out over your bottom lip. If you feel air coming out the sides of your mouth, close your mouth tighter around your fingers. Remember, perfect seal.

Make sure you don’t see your tongue make an appearance in the hole between your fingers! It’s blocking the air from coming out.

You probably won’t get a sound right off the bat. That’s okay. Adjust your finger placement under your tongue and experiment with different finger angles and varying degrees of lip tuckage until you find the sweet spot. Experimentation is key–keep making little adjustments. You’ll know when you’re getting close to your whistle sweet spot because you’ll start producing a noise that sounds sort of like you’re blowing over a beer bottle. Start blowing more forcefully, until you get that high-pitched and loud whistle.

A word of warning: make sure to take a break between blows when you’re first starting out. I’m not kidding. If you keep blowing and blowing, you’ll just hyperventilate, make yourself feel lightheaded and dizzy, and give yourself a headache.

Practice

Keep practicing until you get it. I was able to get it down after 40 minutes of dedicated practice broken up over two days. If you’re married or live with other people, go outside or in a room to avoid driving your loved ones insane. A good time to practice is when you’re stopped at traffic lights while driving alone. Once you figure it out, you’ll wonder why it took you so long to master this awesome skill!

 

Illustrations by Ted Slampyak

{ 213 comments… read them below or add one }

201 Jason August 3, 2013 at 3:11 pm

Sweet, got out a squeak! Then my kids, wife and I started laughing and now I can’t get it back! My 9 year old daughter got it on the first try. Tuck that pride.

202 always wondered August 14, 2013 at 1:22 pm

Thanks as yourself as a kid I always wondered how everyone was able to master this skill…now got some practicing to do LOL

203 Whistling Wonder August 15, 2013 at 11:16 pm

Ohmygosh thank you soooo much! This has been bugging me for years as my family can all do this, but none of them are good teachers! Thanks so much, I am irritating my brother as I type this with random high pitched whistles!!! I LOVE YOU

204 rob September 8, 2013 at 12:13 pm

I think some people’s tongues are more able to “fold” from front to back as describe.

I can “fold” my tonque from one side to the other, but I cannot “fold” it from front to back.

When I push on the front tip of my tongue, it does not fold over itself, it just sort of compresses and gets thicker.

Oh well…

205 Marcelo September 9, 2013 at 11:26 pm

It’s weird sometimes I’ll get a random whistle but it’s mostly just air and saliva.I was wondering if the explanation could get clearer?

206 charla September 15, 2013 at 8:39 pm

Soo fun. Thank you so much. I love it. Got it after 4 tries. Not consistent yet though. I sympathize with the saliva.

Rob,
I work in the dental field and there is a thing called a frenum that holds your tongue down to the floor of your mouth. If it is too far forward you could be “tongue tied”. A quick trip to the dentist and they can snip it for you. With a few days recovery you could be whistling with the best of them. Hope this helps.

Thanks again Brett and Kate!

207 trololololo October 3, 2013 at 12:11 pm

thanks! it worked after few tries, and it’s so loud!

208 Chris M October 12, 2013 at 2:07 pm

Thanks! With this guide and the video, I more or less figured out what worked for me, and I had been wanting to be able to do this since I was about ten and have never been able to figure it out!

I was initially a bit frustrated because other methods on the internet did not seem to work for me. And this specific method did not really work for me either. I have a relatively small mouth and relatively large hands. Thus putting that many fingers in my mouth was uncomfortable and didn’t really leave room for me to get the right shaped hole between the fingers.

So after a couple hours of experimenting on and off over two days, I was able to come up with the right gap between the fingers and the lips using either my two middle fingers (best) or two ring or pointer fingers (fingers facing each other in an A, not side to side in an A). Surprisingly, and contrary to the guide, whether I fold my tongue up, have it at the bottom of my mouth, or just draw it out of the way toward the back of my mouth, it does not seem to influence anything as long as it’s not blocking the airflow. Because I’m not really relying on tongue position, I found that the tips of my fingers need to be touching the roof of my mouth for this to work. Maybe I’m not doing it right, but I’m finally able to get the loud bursts I’m looking for, enough to make my ears ring a bit.

So for those of you that can’t get this in 5 or 10 minutes, try some variations and don’t give up. I thought practicing at traffic lights was a great idea (as if my driving didn’t already make others think I was crazy).

209 A swimmer... October 19, 2013 at 10:20 pm

You know…it’s really funny how Rob and Marcelo’s comments are right after each other. I don’t know if it’s a coincident or not, but they’re both names of coaches from my swim team, and both of them can’t do the whistle.
As for me…I’ve figured out how to do the whistle! Thanks.

210 Jac M November 1, 2013 at 2:03 pm

I’m 15 and i have been trying this all day but so far all i can get is a weak whistle noise,does anyone have any tips ?

211 Bryan March 31, 2014 at 7:59 pm

With this tutorial got it first try with a one-handed whistle. Beware! Did not expect it so gave it my all and almost woke our 7 month old!

212 Kate April 4, 2014 at 12:37 am

I, too, have tried for years with limited success at the “ok” formation. My sis is awesome at it no matter how she does it. I will be trying this again when it is appropriate timing as it is 12:30am here, thinking it is not a good time. :)

I laughed out loud as I tried this step by step. Felt light headed and thought it should say to give it a break. LOL Then I read on and saw your own sage advice to not hyperventilate.

THANKS again!

213 bryn April 16, 2014 at 8:58 am

Well I guess the headache part is true -_-

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