I knew I wanted to learn how to play the dog whistle when I was seven years old. My family and I were walking down the idyllic streets of Mackinac Island with their cream houses and chocolate cobblestones when we happened across a very talented street musician playing the dog whistle with gusto.
I was entranced by his ability to communicate so much emotion playing such a subtle instrument. He was surrounded by excited dogs, all wanting his autograph; this was also appealing. After this pivotal encounter, I talked about learning to play the dog whistle day and night. My parents finally caved, choosing high frequency silence over normal frequency ceaseless chatter, bought me a dog whistle, and signed me up for lessons with world renowned whistler, J.S. Bark.
Bark is well known in the dog whistle community for his mastery of dog whistle counterpoint; it is a skill that requires dexterity and few can master it. Needless to say, his work is in high demand; he has performed for many famous dogs, including Bo Obama.
I arrived at Goshen College a classically trained dog whistler; however, I’ve been dabbling in jazz dog whistling as of late. Imagine my chagrin when the music department refused to let me pursue a major in the dog whistle. This isn’t the first time jealousy and campus politics have crushed the dreams of a young performer.
Wade Troyer, a 2016 graduate, was denied the opportunity to dance in the 2014 Dance Showcase and it may have altered the course of his life. Wade is greatly supportive.
“Irina is the best dog whistler I know; it’s a travesty that Goshen College won’t let her major in the dog whistle.” Wade has been one of the main people working to add the dog whistle to Goshen’s flourishing jazz scene.
Unfortunately, the jazz musicians wouldn’t hear of such blasphemy, but I’ve been sneaking my dog whistle into their concerts and improvising along from the audience. When people comment amongst themselves at how good Lavender Jazz sounds these days I humbly scoff, putting a hand to my chest and silently mouth “thank you” with my eyes closed (in the spirit of the dog whistle).
It is a real shame that such an inclusive and culturally in-tune institution as Goshen College doesn’t acknowledge the importance of dog whistling. Goshen College’s radio station, 91.1 The Globe, claims to be culturally progressive but I haven’t heard them play a single dog whistle song.
When asked what their favorite dog whistle album is, 99% of GC students will give you an uncomfortable look and warn their friends about you. For shame, Goshen, for shame!
The world of dog whistle music is very diverse and culturally valuable to our postmodern society. If you are interested in helping grow the dog whistle movement in your community, I recommend checking out The Beagles, Muttalica, The Rolling Bones, Flea Fighters, Woofjan Stevens, and Lab Zeppelin. It is a little known fact that “Persistent Mr. Postman” by The Beagles almost won a Grammy for Best New Song in 2010 until they realized that it has neither lyrics nor melody.
I hope this article will inspire Goshen College to seriously consider offering a major in the dog whistle and GC students to open their hearts to the world of art dogeau.