High notes in the world of whistling

Tuesday, June 27th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

The bird connection: "The theory is that early man tried to mimic the birds," says Robert Stemmons, a professional whistler from Oklahoma. "Whistling is the oldest musical instrument known to man, and the most commonly played instrument."

One outta three: "It's about every third person who can whistle a tune, probably one out of three people who may not play it well but can play it to some degree," Mr. Stemmons says.

Girls do it, too: "There's been more men that have been involved, but there are also some women," he says. "The first well-known American whistler was a woman in 1886 named Alice Shaw."

Whistling balm: Warm water. Anything cold makes your lips hard.

Renowned whistlers: Bing Crosby, Al Jolson, Roger Whittaker, "Whistling Dick," the redheaded tramp in the O. Henry short story "Whistling Dick's Christmas Stocking."

Key whistling tunes: "Don't Worry, Be Happy," "Winchester Cathedral," "Daydream" by the Lovin' Spoonful, the theme from The Andy Griffith Show.