How to Whistle With Your Fingers

by Brett & Kate McKay on April 8, 2012 · 215 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

{ 215 comments… read them below or add one }

101 hmyer April 12, 2012 at 12:42 pm

couldn’t do it before and still can’t do it with your instructions, but I did slobber all over my fingers. thanks so much

102 Trey April 12, 2012 at 3:49 pm

FINALLY!!!!!!

103 eric April 12, 2012 at 4:40 pm

well my tongue hurts my mouth tastes awful and I got a nice light headed buzz…. ill keep tryin hahaha

104 Sharron April 12, 2012 at 7:51 pm

How To Whistle With Your Fingers:
place thumb and foreFINGER on either side of round end, pucker lips over mouthpiece, inhale deeply and blow ;)
yes, I can whistle without the metal instrument

105 Glori April 14, 2012 at 1:59 am

I have this quirk with my tongue. I cant do this even if I tried and tried. i’d need surgery.. LOL

106 Marius April 14, 2012 at 3:46 am

I can’t believe it!!! Awesome tutorial, got it on my first try after reading through the tutorial.. so many people have tried to teach me how to do it, yet never been able to! a final thank you, to you, sir!

107 Matthew April 14, 2012 at 5:16 pm

Best.Post.Ever.

108 Frank April 15, 2012 at 7:05 am

Awesome, I am really looking forward to this. I can’t do it now though because I just pooped and forgot to wash my hands. Great stuff, B&K!

109 Salim J. April 16, 2012 at 12:35 pm

Yeah. I still couldn’t do it. lol But my mouth is sore and im frustrated..lol

110 Nic April 16, 2012 at 2:14 pm

Been trying it for 20 mins now… a few times i think i got a squeak out… but still cant get it right. AGH!!! Thanks for the guide. I’ve been wondering all this while how to do this whistle

111 Sheena April 16, 2012 at 6:14 pm

I got a few shrill whistles but every time I hear it I got so excited and lost the angle. But thats more sound than I ever had before. *sigh*

112 Sheena April 16, 2012 at 6:16 pm

Right after I posted that I mean RIGHT after I got it to work. I pressed the tip of my tongue up against the bottom of my fingers in a curve…. than I lost it again *sigh*

113 Adriano April 16, 2012 at 8:33 pm

As a child, I never learnt whistling with my fingers; often drooling over my hands, and down my forearms…
Well… I aced it just now, in the middle of the night, half-way through the article!
I thank you for the childish grimace pulled thereafter!

114 Joseph S. April 16, 2012 at 9:53 pm

I always wished I could do this, but never thought to ask. Read this, practiced for five minutes and got a nice loud tone. I’ll have to work on getting it automatic, but thank you!

115 Ahmad April 16, 2012 at 11:25 pm

Thank you! I used to think it was a talent someone’s born with when I was a kid; growing up I couldn’t master this skill no matter how many people taught me.

I managed it on my 8th or so try, but I still haven’t landed it. Thanks!

116 Larry April 16, 2012 at 11:43 pm

My neighbor used to call his kids home for dinner when they were out playing in the neighborhood with a quick whistle and I was always astonished by it. He showed me how to do it when I was 15 years old (23 now) it took me a while but I learned. Now my whistle is very loud but I prefer the OK method, where you make an OK sign with one hand and whistle with those two fingers.

117 LPB April 17, 2012 at 12:11 am

But what about the more awesome “no fingers” whistle? Like if your hands are full with, say, roping a calf, but you still need someone’s attention.

I can finger whistle all you want, but I’ve never been able to master the “no fingers”.

118 Justin Miller April 17, 2012 at 3:09 pm

I remember my dad dominating this when I was a kid. Playing kick-the-can in late at night… I could hear this from miles away.

119 Filipa M. April 17, 2012 at 4:49 pm

Thank you so much! Since 3rd grade (13 years ago) I’ve wanted to learn how to whistle properly, people have tried to teach me over the years and finally I made it after 5 minutes of practicing. This tutorial is awesome!

120 James April 17, 2012 at 5:26 pm

Nope, still can’t do it.

121 Mark Abernathy April 18, 2012 at 1:35 pm

I actually learned this about a year ago from my 6 year old daughter’s book The Daring Book For Girls. It took about an hour. Now I can summon my kids from 2 blocks away.

122 Shafaq April 19, 2012 at 2:29 am

if i master it in two days i will give a prize to myself. yesterday my little sister asked me to whistle for her while we were walking outside in late evening but i failed to. i found this article by accident today. thanks.

123 tgrosson April 19, 2012 at 6:33 pm

i finally got it! it wasnt as loud as i have heard it but it’s getting better! thanks!

124 Ted Grosson April 19, 2012 at 6:58 pm

I finally got it! Thanks so much!

125 Johnny 5 April 20, 2012 at 9:43 am

Funny thing is, this came naturally to me when I was a kid. Much louder was the pointer finger touching the thumb version.

126 Izidor April 20, 2012 at 10:53 am

I always wanted to whistle very loud, and now I finally can. Thank you.

127 Dennis April 20, 2012 at 11:17 am

Not paying attention much, forgot to put my teeth in this morning..

128 Ben April 24, 2012 at 10:27 am

Holy cow. I read the first two paragraphs at work and slobbered all over my fingers. Read one more paragraph and had to stop because it was so loud! I have tried for days to do this. There was a period in Iraq where I just sat there trying to whistle with my fingers, and spit all over the damn place. You, sir, have a reader for life.

129 Joe April 25, 2012 at 1:00 pm

Luckily I was trying this in my office so no one heard me when I cheered. I literally cheered…

130 Étienne April 25, 2012 at 3:01 pm

got it on my 1st try with the instruction, be trying for year, never got it. 1st try with those intruction gt it =D

131 Lil Abner April 25, 2012 at 10:10 pm

My mom is mad at you.

132 Murray April 26, 2012 at 4:48 pm

I always wanted to know how to do this. Another thing my late father could do was open a beer bottle (or soda pop) bottle with another bottle. I would like to know the trechnique of that.

133 Jenny April 26, 2012 at 10:22 pm

Hey, I learned this over a few days! Thank you! I made my own blog about this to spread the awesomeness.
(nojenny.blogspot.com)
I linked you in it! Thanks so much :)

134 jack April 27, 2012 at 4:54 pm

i cant do it :(

135 Brent April 29, 2012 at 1:35 am

Love it. Just ended up spurring all over my wife while trying to go through this tutorial step by step…didn’t realize she was in front of me. She thanks you.

136 Ariana May 4, 2012 at 9:17 am

I learnt one day practicing when I was 15 and still use it ALL the time – I use the ok method and dont push my tongue back it lick my lips, so I’m not drool covered, but the whistle is ridiculously loud. Still haven’t learnt the no hands either tho and would love to!

137 Colin May 8, 2012 at 12:27 pm

Thank you so much! I have always wanted to be able to do this too. For anyone that is having a difficult time getting past the blowing over a bottle stage, make sure there is a little gap between the roof of your mouth and your tongue. At least that’s what worked for me!

138 eric May 8, 2012 at 10:14 pm

HAHA! I’ve been trying to do this for years! After about 20 minutes, I was about frustrated enough. Like some of the comments I got spit all over my hands, I went into the kitchen and washed my hands, put two fingers in my mouth and

139 eric May 8, 2012 at 10:18 pm

Well, after about 20 minutes of light-headedness and some pretty spitty hands, I went into the kitchen, washed off my fingers, put them into my mouth and TOTALLY PISSED OFF MY WIFE with the loudest whistle I’ve ever heard in my life! I’m in the club at last!… and the doghouse…

140 Poki3 September 20, 2012 at 11:23 am

Hej there, i did very well on doing the twohanded whistle, i just wanted to thank you :)

Just need some more practice and i will be good to go with it :D

141 Brendan September 29, 2012 at 4:15 pm

WHAT IS THIS DEVILISH SOUND MY MOUTH HAS PRODUCED? ‘TIS WITCHCRAFT MOST FOUL!

…Oh, and thank you! I’ve always envied those that could whistle with their fingers, and although I am still quite rusty, I can definitely see how it is done. With more practice, I’ll be the coolest kid on the playground!

142 Christian October 19, 2012 at 6:34 pm

Ohh my god thank you so much! I know I might just be VERY lucky but I actually did it on the very first try using your method! Thank you again!

143 kevin October 28, 2012 at 9:53 am

WOW!!!! I got it right after the first try. I’m 35 and could never do it no matter how hard I tried. The ok configuration worked for me.no more whistle envy for me. Thank you!

144 Jeff October 28, 2012 at 11:10 am

My mom was a master of the loud whistle and she used it to tell me “time to come home.” I could hear it anywhere in the neighborhood. Now that I am a father myself I figure I should learn the skill.

145 Colby November 18, 2012 at 3:03 am

This is all that is MAN!!! Thank you!

146 King November 20, 2012 at 4:16 pm

I did it! Heard a slight sound at first and after 2 more tries I can whistle! It’s damn loud and high pitched though.

2 finger worked best, and the first knuckle suggestion was spot on.

147 Andrew November 24, 2012 at 4:04 pm

Nothing. Something is missing in these instructions, something that many people are instinctively doing.

148 Micah November 28, 2012 at 7:52 pm

My roommate hates me now but I’ve always wanted to do this. Took me about 2 minutes. Great instructions. Beyond excited.

149 Rishabh December 6, 2012 at 2:41 pm

Aahh!!
my fingers got wet!
my mouth tastes awful!
and unfortunately i still can’t whistle.
well nevermind,I’ll keep trying.
Nice tutorial Sir:D

150 kate maldonado December 19, 2012 at 3:30 pm

I can do it just with my mouth but not as long as I would like. I’m still practicing; my cats let me know when I hit the right ear splitter note by freaking out. I taxi whistled once in South America and people thought it was funny because they had never seen a woman do it before. But it seemed like they were a little weirded out too, like I had whipped out my unit to pee or something.

151 Keith McGrath December 25, 2012 at 9:00 am

My grandfather used to do it years ago with his two baby fingers an twould nearly burst your ear drums when he did,I eventually masterd it and can now do it too,your instructions are correct but you must cross your nails where your fingers meet in the middle in the mouth

152 Sleestak December 25, 2012 at 9:16 am

It took me 42 years of on and off experimentation, but I mastered the no-fingers loud whistle. I’m 46 now. (I can also do the pucker whistle, the through the teeth whistle, and the inhaling whistle) I will have to try the finger whistle – Thanks!

153 Ryan January 9, 2013 at 2:46 pm

i have the slightest tiniest squeak like coming from my mouth. still tryin’

154 Vlonjat January 11, 2013 at 6:02 am

You are the best. I did it with the second try.

155 Buchu January 11, 2013 at 7:27 pm

I think my lip-piercing is fouling it up.

156 tabitha January 12, 2013 at 7:59 am

did not work

157 matthew January 13, 2013 at 4:34 pm

thirty-one years old.
never came close before this day
w/ your instruction i got it in three blows

158 Nour January 18, 2013 at 3:58 pm

finally i can do it! thx a lot!

159 Adam Hall January 19, 2013 at 3:07 pm

I have wanted to do this since I was a kid. Thanks to your article – SUCCESS!!

Thanks so much

160 Jasmine January 31, 2013 at 8:59 pm

Still Cant Do It And Im Completely Jealous Of T he People Who Say They Got It On Like The Second Trh.

161 Seorang February 8, 2013 at 4:02 am

Damn great! Worked in the first try. The sound is not so loud, but I’ll keep practicing. Thank you so much!

162 Conor February 9, 2013 at 1:04 pm

been wanting to do this for years, with the help of this article and a week of practice i can finally whistle, thanks so much

163 Nannette February 16, 2013 at 6:43 am

Ohhhhh my! Lotsa drool, spinning head and aching jaw … but that sweet sound is beginning to happen!! I’m in my 60′s and am gonna blow my grandkids away!!

164 fredtheghost February 26, 2013 at 5:10 pm

I almost past out…

165 Bernd March 3, 2013 at 7:24 am

OMG! It works! It actually works!
Now all I have to figure out is how to do it without slobbering all over four fingers.
I’ll have to master the thumb-and-index-finger-grip. It looks so much more elegant…

166 allan b March 6, 2013 at 8:52 pm

so i was trying this (10 pm et) and i scared my lab, my basset, my wife who is wearing headphones and possibly one or both of my sleeping kids. my wife was not happy. all i could do was laugh

167 umar March 18, 2013 at 8:07 am

thnx now i can whistle harder

168 Mike` April 8, 2013 at 11:23 am

Thank you. I think my testosterone level just shot up by a point or two. Dad tried to teach me to do this, sadly I never mastered it. Was just able to do it within minutes of reading the article! Somewhere, up in heaven, he’s smiling.

169 sean April 8, 2013 at 12:16 pm

I learned to whistle with fingers in the circus to get audiance attention and call for wagons on move out night. then a fellow clown said you could get the same sound with out fingers ! well it took 3 weeks of practice but one day in New York when I needed a cab.. thanks for the posting.

170 DrJRiddle April 8, 2013 at 12:37 pm

38 years and I couldn’t figure this out. After reading this article got it on the first try, mostly anyway, still gonna practice some.

171 Randy April 8, 2013 at 1:19 pm

Awesome tutorial I got the whistle right after I had finish reading the article. Just keep getting manlier!

172 JP April 8, 2013 at 2:20 pm

My sister and father could whistle unbelievably loud without using fingers. I just couldn’t get it either way and was only able to do the simple and weak sounding ‘put your lips together and blow’ whistle. It wasn’t until I had really boring security job where I would patrol a parking structure in virtural solitude lot that I started practicing. I probably looked like I was stark raving mad as I spit and slobbered my to whistle nirvana. It took about a week (and a box of kleenex) to figure out the optimal placement of my tongue under my front teeth, the correct lip shape, and breath control. It was pure trial and error, the first whistle was pretty anemic, but after practicing relentlessly.. oh boy… my kids can hear me across a crowded park and you don’t want to stand next to me at a baseball game! I’ve traded whistles with some finger-stickers and most are louder then my whistle but since I don’t need to stick my fingers in my mouth I consider that more then a fair trade off. ~JP

173 Jtich April 8, 2013 at 3:03 pm

Im so dizzy!

174 HT April 8, 2013 at 8:56 pm

I didnt get to try it yet but i bet it works! [Im in bed right now thats why]

175 chris April 8, 2013 at 9:13 pm

just got a little whistle, but that felt so good. thanks so much

176 Ash April 10, 2013 at 10:48 pm

I will have to try this when I’m not at the apartment at midnight.

I had a teacher in elementary that could whistle real loud with no fingers-just his teeth! He was our “recess bell”.

177 Jacqui April 15, 2013 at 9:18 am

Wanted to learn to do this since I was a child i’m now 54, took me 2 mins and I can do it yeah thank you am happy now

178 1776 April 24, 2013 at 2:20 pm

It’s much more manly to whistle loudly without the use of fingers. Manly men work and get all kinds of nasty stuff on their fingers and hands.
I grew up around live stock everyone could whistle without their fingers. ;-)

179 mark ifi April 25, 2013 at 8:37 am

I could never do it, after I tried this for 3 minutes it’s already going somewhere. good description, thanks!

180 WilSquared April 25, 2013 at 5:32 pm

Good tutorial. The tips and images are great, thanks!
Personally I prefer to use my pinky fingers instead of trying to jam 4 fingers in my mouth and I get an extremely high pitch as a result.
My 1 handed OK style still needs some practice, but I’ve only been at it a couple days :P

181 Devin April 26, 2013 at 10:44 am

Thank you! It only took me 100 tries but i finally got it!

182 Nana May 1, 2013 at 10:36 am

You are so awesome. THANK YOU!!!

183 stefeo May 5, 2013 at 11:59 am

thank you kind sir! iv’e tried many times from tutorials on many different sites but this is the first time i got a sound!

184 Andrea Vaughan May 25, 2013 at 5:17 am

lol congrats to allthose who have learned…I (a 54yr old female) have been whistling like a banshee since I was about 9yrs old…I don’t know how I learned this amazing skill as no one in my family can whistle..but boy can I let go with an ear splitting blast…every time…lol I make grown men weep when they hear my whistle ;)

185 Priya May 30, 2013 at 3:28 pm

OMG!!!!!… I always wanted to try this… but’ll end with nothing… after reading this… I really tried it with much interest…n finally got it in 10 mins…. not an awesome one… but jus the starting…!!! i’m gonna practice it everyday!!!!

186 Thomas June 8, 2013 at 3:01 pm

BEST EDVICE EVER! countless digging to find the perfect site and yours helped me learn in 5 minutes!!! u rock man!

187 Mike June 8, 2013 at 4:06 pm

Thank you so much! Amazing manual and the two hand combo is much better

188 Wendy June 14, 2013 at 8:24 am

My 15 year old son plays guitar in a band and they’re doing their first gig this weekend. I told him I’d learn how to do a finger whistle just to properly mortify him…… ha ha I can do it!

189 salih June 19, 2013 at 6:14 am

did it in 5 minutes…

190 K June 27, 2013 at 1:22 am

Hey I finally made a noise. Mind you it sounds odd and hollow, not shrill like you hear in the movies (which is the one I really want) but this is closer then I’ve ever been. I did end up a bit slobbery but cool. Thanks:)

191 Emma July 2, 2013 at 1:18 pm

I’ve been trying to do this for a while as I too think it’s a valuable life skill. You’re instructions are amazing. I still can’t do the two finger one (mind you, I only attempted it 5 times) but I can do the OK one after 3 tries. Now I just have to improve it!!!!!!!! THANK YOU!!!!!!! Now I can hail taxis in the classic way.

192 Chris July 3, 2013 at 1:14 pm

Yeaaah! i did it once… i think is enough for this life.

193 J E July 23, 2013 at 6:50 pm

I’m out here making my kids go crazy! My dog too!

194 Waykno July 27, 2013 at 7:23 pm

My Mom taught me to whistle like this without hands. I’ve seen it both ways and just puckering and whistling is more convenient, say if your hands are occupied or dirty—and just as powerful or more so This way is better than nothing but I learned this from Mom when in elementary school and practice is key.

195 Big Jim G. July 28, 2013 at 7:03 pm

Thanks for the tutorial! My dad will now be proud! I remember him whistling like this when I was a kid. He told me he learned it in the Navy… aka the “Wolfe Whistle.”

196 Ray Habenicht July 29, 2013 at 12:17 am

Thanks for the tutorial. I have never been able to do it, but never been shown how. I WILL do it. :) My mentor used this skill often on the job-site to get someone’s attention; like a crane operator in a noisy cab. A useful skill indeed.

197 Eric July 29, 2013 at 11:01 am

“Blow through the hole between your two INDEX fingers”? My middle fingers are what seem to be creating a hole; confused here. Any advice? Thanks.

198 Ramón Sosa July 31, 2013 at 7:39 am

How about a fingerless whistling tutorial? I can’t do the one in this article, but I can do it just with my tonge and lips, I don’t know how I do it but anyway, I think it would be cool to have the theory haha.

199 Geo July 31, 2013 at 4:08 pm

I just spit everywhere😣. Do you think braces would affect it???

200 Ido August 2, 2013 at 3:31 pm

WOW,Finaly for the first time in 43 Years !!!!!
Great tutorial,,

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