Windermere High junior Ian Delgado is new to the world of competitive whistling, but his tunes impressed judges at a recent international whistling competition.
Growing up, Ian Delgado learned how to whistle by listening and mimicking the calls of the birds his family kept as pets.
He whistled tunes to — in his words — “mess with them,” but it was all in good fun. Years later, he used that simple musical hobby that utilizes no instruments to blow away judges at the Masters of Whistling International Festival and Competition held last August in Los Angeles. He earned second place in the Popular Pre-Recorded Accompaniment Division and also earned the title of International World Champion Whistler under 18.
“It was always something I always did,” Delgado said of whistling. “I don’t have a specific event that I would say, ‘From here on out, I started to whistle.’ … (Birds) were my inspiration.”
It was Delgado’s first time competing in a whistling competition, and he hopes to do it again on a much grander scale — by representing the United States at the World Whistlers Convention 2020 in Japan. That competition will be April 11 and 12, and he is hoping to get a little help through a GoFundMe campaign.
“Just like in any competition that’s musical, it’s (judged) based on intonation, expression, rhythm and difficulty,” Delgado said. “You choose a certain song that you prepare. You bring a backing track and everything. … When I went to LA, we had three judges, and they all would be judging me based on my appearance (and) how I was with the audience. It’s kind of like a general music competition.”
Delgado, 16, lives in Winter Garden and is a junior at Windermere High School. Although whistling always has been a hobby of his, Delgado didn’t learn about whistling competitions until he came across a YouTube video. Not long after that, his whistle work began, and he entered that first competition by submitting a video of him whistling a two- to five-minute song. He had to do the same to audition for the whistling competition in Japan.
“About two years ago, I found a YouTube video online on the world champion of whistling in LA,” Delgado said. “I thought to myself that I could really compete and be competitive with my hobby, and I saw myself actually being able to win this competition. So about a year ago, I auditioned (for the competition), and I made it.”
As a first-time competitor, Delgado was a little nervous during his performance. He whistled to the tune of “Better When I’m Dancin’” by Meghan Trainor. About halfway through the song, he drew a blank and forgot the music. Despite this, he began dancing on stage and improvised his whistling. Although he forgot some of the music, the improvisation in his performance won over the judges enough for him to earn second place in his division.
“When I was on the stage, I actually messed up and I have this problem where I, sometimes, hyperventilate when I’m in situations like that,” Delgado said. “Halfway through the song, I just stopped, and I just started to dance ... because there was nothing else I could do — I got lost. I started to dance, and I pulled it together in the end.
“When I got to the awards ceremony, I didn’t know if I was going to place at all,” Delgado said. “I remember when they called my name, I was ecstatic. There is nothing in that moment that would have been better than that. Personally, I would have loved first place, but (the fact that) I placed and got second my first time there, it’s more than I could have ever imagined.”
Aside from whistling, Delgado is no stranger to the music world. He has played the violin for about six years and was involved in the Windermere High orchestra during his freshman and sophomore years. His eyes are set for the World Whistlers Convention 2020 in Japan, and he also is considering auditioning for the Orange County Public Schools Top Talent 2020 competition. For Delgado, whistling might have only just been a simple hobby, but he hopes to take it further — one tune and competition at a time.