How to Whistle Real Loud


by Steve Roche

*Get attention and dirty looks with a whistle that exceeds the threshold of pain.*

You too can learn to whistle at pressures over 130 dB, well above the upper limit of sound level meters like this one.

There comes a time in everyone's life when you need to hail a cab, praise a rock star, or disrupt a free-throw attempt. Yelling at the top of your lungs might work. But, it can damage your voice box and often isn't loud enough to stand out against the background of a city street or a rowdy sports crowd.

Artificial noisemakers are out. They're uncool in big crowds and, in some situations, illegal. No, to signal others at a distance, you need to make your own noise — a noise you can conjure up even if you're completely naked.

All that's required is a little knowledge and perseverance, plus your own fingers, lips, mouth, and lungs. Soon, you'll be blasting out whistles at sound pressures far above the typical rock concert, lawn mower, big city street, or wood chipper.

Command the attention of your colleagues with your new whistling powers.

Once you have mastered the finger-assisted whistle you will hold a great power. I strongly caution you to wield this power with an equal measure of care. It can be EXTREMELY loud, over 130 db (decibels), the commonly referred to "threshold of pain". Prolonged exposure can damage your hearing and the hearing of those around you.

The Five-Fold Path to Finger-Assisted Whistling Mastery

1. Make an "okay" symbol by forming a circle with your index finger and thumb.

Okay Symbol

2. Lick your lips and open your mouth.

Open mouth

3. Bring your fingers up to your opened mouth. Place the bottom side tip of your tongue against the okay ring in the area where your thumb and index finger meet. Push firmly against your fingers with your tongue.

Fingers against mouth

4. Close your lips around the previously formed finger/tongue assembly while leaving a small hole, the blowhole, between your bottom lip and the inside of the "okay" ring. The blowhole is extremely critical. It's where the big noise is born and the annoyance begins. Every other area around the blowhole must be sealed and airtight. The blowhole can be the only conduit out for your whistle-making air.


5. Start blowing.

At first, all you'll hear is a bunch of moving air. The magic happens when you have just the right combination of the following factors:

  • The tension of your lower lip.
  • The moisture on your lips and fingers.
  • The amount of pressure between your tongue and your fingers.
  • The size of your blowhole.
  • The volume of air moving through your blowhole.

Finger-Assisted Whistling Milestones Click for sample audio

  1. Windy: Sounds like air blowing. No whistling sound.
  2. Jet Engine: Sounds like a jet engine idling.
  3. Leaky Whistle: Whistling sound is made, but it’s degraded due to air leakage from outside the blowhole.
  4. Mastery Whistle: No leakage, full-powered whistle. Purchase earplugs.

Since everyone's anatomy is different, it's impossible for me to tell you exactly what to do at this point. Getting these five things right takes time and practice. Sometimes it happens in an hour, sometimes a couple of days.

Just keep at it and make adjustments until you begin to hear what sounds like an F-18 idling on the deck of a Nimitz class aircraft carrier. When you hear that, you'll know you're very close. Continue making subtle adjustments and pretty soon a whistle will pop out. The feeling of accomplishment and pride you will feel is indescribable!

With a bit more practice, you'll be able to keep that whistle going even at maximum air pressure. That's the beauty of this finger-assisted whistling technique. The more air pressure, the louder the whistle. It won't be overpowered by excessive blowing.

Again, heed my words of caution. Your new whistle can bring you both attention and respect, or scorn and condemnation, depending on how and when it's employed. Use your whistle only after you've forewarned others, unless your goal is to scare or stun them or to save your own life.

Be careful with your hearing, too. I have to hold back to prevent temporarily deafening myself. To paraphrase Web Wilder, "Work hard, rock hard, eat hard, whistle hard, grow big, wear ear plugs if you need 'em"

* Note: if you've been born without lips or have had them removed, you won't be able to use this technique.