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A World Record Whistle for N.H.’s Andrew Stanford

Andy Stanford
The record holder Andy Stanford

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the farthest blindfolded field goal is 45 yards, as visionlessly kicked in 2018 by Davis Brief in Hanover. What might be the greatest distance travelled on a unicycle while juggling three objects, you ask? Well, that record would be 12.42 miles, set by Jeremy Walker last year in Wolfeboro. And now, as NHPR’s Sean Hurley tells us, we can add 20-year old Andrew Stanford to the list of Granite Staters in the Guinness Book.

Here’s a little sound test. Ready? Is this a teakettle…or a human whistle?

{Imagine here a mysterious, very high whistling sound}

That is the sound of Andy Sanford whistling. On March 20th, the West Lebanon resident entered a soundproof room at Dartmouth College and under the scrutinizing eyes and ears of three linguistics professors, set the world record for highest note whistled.

Credit Andy Stanford
Stanford whistling his way to a record.

Listen to Andy Stanton's World Record whistle.

Stanford says the previous record holder, Ohio State senior Dillon McBride, held the title for only a few short years. “Yeah, he whistled the A8 which is 7,040 hertz and I did C9 which is 8,372 hertz,” Stanford says. “I found him on Twitter and he had his bio that said "Guinness World Record Whistle Holder" and then a week later he removed it.”

The sad tweet of Dillon McBride tells the story of what it’s like to be un-Guinnessed: “Someone broke my world record,” McBride’s tweet begins. “It was fun while it lasted. No longer officially amazing. #thebeginningoftheend.”

“When I was a boy I tried whistling but I couldn't do it,” Stanford says. “I always wanted to be able to whistle.”

Curiously, this inability to whistle as a boy is something that also plagued prior record holder, McBride, who couldn’t whistle until the 8th grade. “I couldn't figure it out,” Stanford says, “But then somewhere in high school - I was on the Lebanon crew team - and we'd just be rowing on the water just kind of making obnoxious noises because you could hear echoes in the river channels and I just sort of figured out a way to go really, really high. I learned to whistle normally after that but it was my first breakthrough. I just started high.”

Though the mechanics of Stanford’s breakthrough style allow him to mimic birdsong – they aren’t the same as the more familiar air-through-tightened-lips method of whistling. “My jaw changes. My lips come in a little bit,” Stanford says. “I guess I'm sort of arching my tongue so that the area that the air is actually vibrating on is just this tiny little spot between the tip of my tongue and my lips.I'm interested if this is something unique to me - which is unlikely. It might just be something I've come across that could be, you know a teachable new paradigm of whistling.”

Listen to Andy's uncanny bird song whistles.

While Stanford says his parents are proud; “They think it's funny that this kind of silly thing I always did ended up turning into something to do with Guinness World Records,” and his fellow students at Calvin College in Michigan won’t stop asking him to whistle; “I went to get my mail at the desk in the dorm and there were like five people saying “do the whistle! do the whistle!” he’s well aware of the general human response to his record breaking sound; “There's a good share of people who have said ‘please don't do that and don't do it ever again.’”

With one world record set by mouth, Stanford is next considering a record he could break with his hands. “There's something called alternate one handed clapping,” Stanford says. “I can do it and it's an unusual ability. And the record would be number of alternate one-handed claps in one minute.”

The current record, held by Abhinabha Tangerman, is 615 claps in one minute.

But for now, Stanford says he’s just going to whistle. “I’m just going for high,” he says with a laugh.  

Link to Stanford's Guinness Book record

Sean Hurley lives in Thornton with his wife Lois and his son Sam. An award-winning playwright and radio journalist, his fictional “Atoms, Motion & the Void” podcast has aired nationally on NPR and Sirius & XM Satellite radio. When he isn't writing stories or performing on stage, he likes to run in the White Mountains. He can be reached at shurley@nhpr.org.

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