Whistling to ethical standards

By Clay Thompson
Dec. 14, 2002

I have at hand a question from a guy who wants to know the right way to flip a quarter.

This is a direct quote from his e-mail:

The reason that I ask this is because my mother and I were having a debate about the proper way to flip a quarter. She says that most Americans flip it vertically, thus causing the image on the other side to be right side up. I flip my quarters horizontally, and it drives me crazy when I have to do an extra turn of the quarter just to get the image to be right side up.

Do you have any idea what he's talking about? I don't.

So we will leave this guy and his mother to settle this on their own and move on to another family's question.

Why is it that my daughter can whistle the Hallelujah Chorus and virtually any other song while I can only whistle one or two notes? I am hoping it is some kind of talent one just either is born with or not, because she shows off while she is cleaning up the kitchen and it gets pretty annoying. I also can't roll my tongue - I don't know if that has any bearing on things or not.

Maybe your daughter should plan on attending Puckerama, a big whistling festival Oct. 2-5 in Tulsa. They are so excited that the governor has even proclaimed a "Musical Whistling Week" in Oklahoma.

According to the Puckerama Web site, "This festival will strive to have the highest ethical standards and will promote the art of whistling through workshops and community service performances."

It's good to know in these troubled days, when our business, religious and government institutions are racked by scandal, that America's whistlers are maintaining the highest ethical standards.

Anyway, yes, tongue rolling - curling up the edges so your tongue kind of forms a tube - is genetic.

But I'm not quite sure what rolling your tongue would have to do with it because you don't necessarily roll your tongue when you whistle. Curl it maybe, but not roll.

Check out, the Web site of Robert Stemmons, who claims to be "North America's fully professional whistler." Not "only," but "fully."

The site includes samples from his CDs and tapes - including Timeless Hymns Whistled and Whistling Workout for Birds, Vol. 1 - but more importantly, it includes detailed whistling lessons.

Take a look. Maybe it'll help you get to be as good as your daughter. The instructions are simple, but if you need any help, just whistle.

Reach Thompson at or (602) 444-8612.

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