SOUTH BEND — When you think of the word instrument, what comes to mind? Probably guitar or drums, right? What about the tin whistle? Have you heard of it? Well, that instrument is allowing 16-year-old Theresa Kubiak to do something many of us only dream of doing: travel to another country.
“There’s just six holes, just six holes. There are only eight notes in a scale. That is pretty simple,” explains Kubiak’s instructor, John Kennedy. “In order to play this very simple instrument at a very high level, that’s another matter.”
Not many people in the states play the tin whistle.
“In the music stores in South Bend, I will take a wild guess and say there’s 250 guitars currently hanging on the walls in various music shops around town and there might be a couple of tin whistles for sale somewhere,” adds Kennedy.
It may not be for sale, but Kubiak has a tin whistle, and she has been playing it for the past 10 years.
“When I first blew into the whistle, I apologized because I was so embarrassed that I sounded terrible,” says Kubiak.
“It would take about 15 minutes for her to finally start playing. She was very nervous,” adds Kennedy.
But, he knew she had what it took to keep going.
“…because she enjoyed the music. She also, from very early on, had a sense for it and a sense of pace,” says Kennedy.
“I love the sound. It is just, it is so unique and I just really don’t know how to describe my feelings towards it. I like it so much,” says Kubiak.
Kubiak is great at playing this instrument. Back in May, she placed first in the Mid-West Fleadh, or competition. Placing first meant she was going to Ireland in August to compete in an All-Ireland Fleadh.
“The Irish relationship to music is, it is a party, and it is a celebration. There is going to be a couple hundred thousand people descending on a small city, and I mean a small city,” explains Kennedy.
“It makes it even more amazing because when you think about it, you are going over to Ireland to complete in the All-Ireland Fleadh and you are representing the United States. So, it is pretty cool, so cool,” adds Kubiak.
“Placing first in the All-Ireland competition is a very, very big deal. I don’t want to put any pressure on Theresa, but I think she actually has a shot,” says Kennedy.
Kubiak will be going to Ireland in August. Once she is there, she will participate in a workshop for five days before competing. Some of the trip is paid for, but she still has to pay for her flight, hotels and food. If you want to help her out, visit gofundme.com/284dkdjn
When Kubiak is not in Ireland, you can catch her playing at Fiddler’s Hearth on Monday nights around 8 p.m.
If you think your child may be interested in learning how to play the tin whistle or taking other lessons from John Kennedy, visit kennedyskitchen.com/home.