A Writer's Playground

Monthly Activities for Kids by Linda Martin Andersen

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“A Writer’s Playground” Welcomes Phyllis Heil, The Whistling Woman, and Offers a CD Giveaway

Posted by lindamartinandersen on June 8, 2012

Raise your hand, if you can whistle.  Keep your hand raised if you ever entered a whistling contest.  Continue to hold your hand up if you won a whistling contest.  Congratulations whistlers! 

Now, put your hands together and give a loud clap or whistle if you’d rather, to welcome a champion whistler.  Well recognized on the stage of the International Whistlers Convention http://www.whistlingiwc.com/, I’m proud to introduce Phyllis Heil from Hickory, North Carolina.

My first opportunity to hear Phyllis whistle was at a patriotic celebration.  So, I’ve invited her to “A Writer’s Playground” in honor of Flag Day, on June 14.  Today, she’s here to whistle “The Grand Old Flag.” 

Here’s Phyllis…


International Whisting Champion


Welcome Phyllis.  Thank you for agreeing to an interview at “A Writer’s Playground.”

1.  Phyllis, how old were you when you learned to whistle? Around 7 or 8.  Who taught you?  One of my older brothers.   What instructions did you get? To insert my little finger (pinkie) into my mouth, tighten my lips around my finger, pull my finger out of my mouth (holding the round opening it made) and blow.

2.  Who did you share your new whistling skill with and what was the person’s reaction?  I whistled for my mom and she said, “A whistling woman and a crowing hen always come to some bad end.” So out of respect for my  mom,  I didn’t whistle in public for many years.

3. Years later, when you whistled in public who was it  for and what was the reaction? The first public whistling was at a funeral where I was also singing with a quartet. The mourner’s became calm as they listened to me whistle.  How did the reaction change things for you? As my husband was working in the sound booth that day, we both realized that there was a use for whistling and that it has great power to calm people.

4.  Describe the different types of whistling.  Pucker whistling, teeth whistling, hand whistling, throat whistling and probably other styles I don’t even know about.

5.  Are your whistling instructions for a beginner different than the ones you were first given?  If so, how?  No, except I observe the pupil’s position of the lips and chin.  Sometimes I can have the person move his/her chin forward, if it appears the “air” coming out needs a better direction.

 6.  What are some simple tunes you would suggest for a beginner?  “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, Amazing Grace, Jesus Loves Me, theme from Mayberry or some song easily recognized.

 7.  Phyllis, I know you’re not one to brag, but please share some of your whistling accomplishments.  Count your plagues, trophies, and ribbons.  It’s time to shine.  Mention special appearances, also. 


  • Placed in Grand Championship at my first competition in 2004 and again in 2005. 
  • Named International Whistling Entertainer of the Year (female) in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, and 2010.
  • I have competed in the Unifour Senior Games, Silver Performing Arts, received the first place gold medal several times, was once chosen as Best in Show to represent Western NC at state level, where I received the gold medal for my whistling.
  • I appeared/whistled on “The Tonight Show” with Jay Leno. I have been asked to whistle on stage at two Gaither Homecoming Friends concerts. Have been on several TV shows, radio shows and online “shows.”
  • I have performed at many churches, seniors & ladies events, benefits, High Point University (four times in 2012), Andy Griffith Playhouse in Mt. Airy, and traveled from Pennsylvania to Florida performing.
  • Our State magazine, WNC magazine (May, 2012), and “Old Farmer’s Almanac” (New Hampshire)
  • I have been asked by three families to whistle for a relative who was being cared for by Hospice.  I was honored to be a part of that time in the life of a family.

 8. Where is the International Whistlers Convention held?  Founded and held in Louisburg, NC since 1973, except for 2 years when it was held in Japan and China.  What competitions exist for children? Teens and children may compete in the same categories as adults.  Those age groups perform their music on Saturday.  When is the next International Whistlers Convention?  April 2013.

 9. What advice would you give children who want to compete as whistlers?  Find a song you enjoy whistling; get a good, but simple soundtrack for accompaniment and practice, practice, practice. Practice sometimes in front of a mirror to see how you present yourself on stage.

10.  Who do you credit for your ability to whistle?  God and my family who always sang when I was growing up and instilled in me the love of music.

11.  Why do you whistle?  It comes from the joy within and also to uplift those who hear me.

12.  How has whistling brought joy to others?  It seems to have touched many hearts through the years as I’ve observed tears, smiles, and sometimes received standing ovations at the end of concert.

 13.  How did you get your nickname as “The Whistling Woman?”  The manager at a local grocery store used to say, “There comes the whistling woman” when I would be in the store shopping. I often am not aware that I am whistling.  I do it subconsciously.

 14.  What did you want to be when you grew up?  Everything from a nurse to a hair dresser.  What career did you choose?  I was in retail management for many years; then I worked in medical offices and business offices at a local furniture manufacturer.

Thank you, Phyllis, for joining us and for sharing your whistling experiences. 

Readers, did you know that most present and future adults will hold more than one career in their lifetime.  I’m so glad Phyllis decided to include whistling as one of hers.   Aren’t you?  Phyllis gives “Whistle While You Work” a new twist.  She works while she whistles. 

New CD

Click on the link below to hear Phyllis Heil whistle a tune that’s available on the giveaway prize.  http://www.thewhistlingwoman.com/sounds/great.mp3 

Here’s a contest everyone can enter, whether you can whistle or not:

A complimentary copy of Phyllis Heil’s CD entitled I’ve Got Joy (Still Whistling His Praises) is being offered as a giveaway to one lucky follower. 

 To enter: 

  • For contact purposes, please list your email address if you are not a follower.
  • Leave a comment about whistling.  Name a tune you can whistle or tell about a whistling experience. 
  • If you are a child, or registering for a child, mention that information and you will receive an extra entry. 
  • Please let me know if you post this contest to Facebook, Twitter, your blog, etc.  You will receive an extra entry.
  • International entries will be accepted in honor of the international whistling competition.
  • Contest ends at midnight, June 20, 2012.  The winner will be announced on June 22.  Thank you for participating.

I am pleased to announce that Phyllis Heil’s story, written by Linda Martin Andersen (that’s me), will be published in the November 10, 2012 issue of Guide magazine (Christian Fun for Kids—ages 10-14).  All stories in this magazine are nonfiction.  Visit http://www.guidemagazine.org for more information about Guide magazine.  I hope you will on the lookout for the story about Phyllis Heil. 

Phyllis’ story is something to crow about.  Even the hens think so.  Listen. 


One last thing to crow about… a new series of books by McFarland and Company called Joining the Military, written for teens and young adults who are considering a military career.  Snow Wildsmith, the author, is interviewed on Carol Baldwin’s blog where she is offering a set of the books to be donated to a library.  Learn more at  http://carolbaldwinblog.blogspot.com/2012/06/gift-your-librarian.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+blogspot%2FDtis+%28Carol+Baldwin%27s+blog%29  Enter the contest now.

24 Responses to ““A Writer’s Playground” Welcomes Phyllis Heil, The Whistling Woman, and Offers a CD Giveaway”

  1. Wow. A whistler–who would have known so much about this art? Congrats on your article, Linda and to PHyllis for being such a champion. Thanks for posting the link to my blog too! appreciate it.

  2. Carol, thanks for your enthusiasm about this interview and Phyllis Heil’s championship whistling. I am so glad I got to know her and I’m especially happy that kids will read about her soon in Guide magazine.

    You are very welcome for the posting of a link to your blog. I hope many people enter your giveaway. Libraries will certainly benefit from Snow Wildsmith’s series on Joining the Military.

    Your interviews and posts inspire me to do more. I hope Snow will keep turning out quality guides for parents and resources for kids.

  3. Joan Y. Edwards said

    Dear Linda,
    My father used to whistle a lot in the morning before and after he shaved. It was fun hearing him. Phyllis Heil is extraordinary at whistling and she’s from North Carolina. Yay! for North Carolina!

    • Joan,
      Thanks so much for commenting and sharing the memories of your dad whistling before and after shaving. Good thing he didn’t try it during shaving! Whistling early in the day suggests he was a morning person. Was he?

      I’m happy to enter you in the CD giveaway contest. Isn’t it amazing what varied talents people have?

  4. I’ve whistled ever since I was a kid and don’t remember when I learned…possibly to call a dog. My mom was a good musician and we sang around the piano a lot. Whistling just happened in my family. I can whistle a variety of tunes, but never did it as a performance. At my age (secret-sorry) my lips aren’t as flexible as they used to be and it is harder to whistle, even to call my dog, but I can still get out a few tunes if they don’t go too high or too low.

    • Janice,
      Thanks for visiting “A Writer’s Playground.” I love that you’re a whistler too. I wish I were. Keep practicing. Flex those lips and whistle a tune today. It will bring joy to you and others. I’m entering your name in the CD giveaway. Good luck.

  5. Hey Linda,
    Thanks for doing a great job with your blog and all the compliments. I never knew I do anything with whistling until the first public whistling as part of a song sung at a funeral. It got the congregation’s attention as well as soothing hurting hearts. I have a lot of people tell me after a concert that they didn’t know what to expect when they heard the “entertainment” was a whistler. Most people don’t realize that whistling with accompaniment is just like singing or even playing another instrument. I try to convey the words of the song through whistling. I’m often told that my music blessed someone. Comments like that make all the long hours I put into learning songs, preparing a program and traveling worth while.
    We whistlers need all the help we can get to have our style of music as welcomed as any other musician or singer.

    • Phyllis,
      I appreciate you and your whistling. The combination brings joy and comfort to others and praises the Lord. Keep touring and sharing your special gift. Thank you again for visiting “A Writer’s Playground.” I’m looking forward to giving away a copy of your CD entitled “JOY.”

  6. Amazing and she’s from Hickory too! Someone else told me about Phyllis but I’d almost forgotten. Thanks for the reminder.

    A favorite childhood memory is of me being in the apple tree in summer time and hearing my aunt whistle tunes in her mobile home next door. My grandmother and mom could whistle tunes also. Love the whistling tips shared here but doubt I will learn at this age. Music isn’t my strong suit, in the first place!

    But I might share the tips with some grandchildren!

    • Joyce,
      Thanks for sharing your memory of sitting in an apple tree and overhearing your aunt whistling. Delightful–just like this weekend’s weather! Since your mom and grandmother can also whistle, maybe those grandchildren have what it takes. Perhaps you can take them to hear Phyllis. She loves having children perform with her. If you decide you’re interested, check the schedule on her website.

      I heard Phyllis perform in Hickory once. She whistled for a senior group at a local church. We met afterwards and I interviewed her. That led to a story that will be published in the November 10, 2012 issue of Guide magazine. I look forward to seeing it.

      I will enter you in the CD giveway. Thanks for visiting “A Writer’s Playground.” Good luck!

      • Congrats on the article! That is terrific! I think our senior group would enjoy her and I think that’s how I heard about her in the first place. Hi Phyllis! I’m starting to feel like I’m talking about you! Hope to meet you sometime. Joyce Hostetter

      • Joyce, thanks for congratulating me on the upcoming story about Phyllis Heil. I hope you do get to hear her whistle sometime. She’s a fantastic entertainer and a wonderful lady. Phyllis won’t mind you talking about her–it’s all good.

      • Hi Joyce, I hope we will meet sometime as well. My calendar is connected to my website, but often I don’t post private performances, however I can usually bring a guest (we’ll tell them you’re “with the band”).

      • Thanks for the additional comment, Phyllis. I hope Joyce saw this.

      • joycemoyerhostetter said

        Oh, so Phyllis – are you going to sneak me in? Cool. But really, I think we should invite you to visit our church group sometime.

      • Chuck, my husband, and I would welcome the opportunity to present a concert for your congregation or church group, or another group or event where a speaker and/or music is needed.

      • Phyllis,
        I hope you and Joyce are able to get an event scheduled.

      • joycemoyerhostetter said

        My husband is also Chuck so when I read your reply in my inbox, I was momentarily disoriented about who was presenting and who was hosting! Ha! I will my Chuck about this.

      • Ladies,
        Sounds like this is meant to be.

  7. Cool Linda! It is fun to learn more of the “behind the scenes” that this interview shared!

    • Heather,

      I’m glad you got to meet Phyllis through this interview. Thanks so much for your help with getting her story ready for magazine publication. Woohoo!

      I’ll enter you in the CD giveaway.

  8. What a great interview! And congrats on the mag story. WAY TO GO!

    • Thanks so much for the compliment, Donna. I’m looking forward to seeing Phyllis’ story in print. It’s the first time she’s been featured in a children’s magazine, I believe.

      I’ll enter your name in the drawing for her CD. Thanks for visiting. Come again soon and bring a friend.

  9. […] 17-21  I hope you’ll take time to read an earlier blog post about Phyllis Heil at  https://lindamartinandersen.wordpress.com/2012/06/08/a-writers-playground-welcomes-phyllis-heil-the-w…  The giveaway is no longer available, but Phyllis plans to be at this year’s […]

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