Homemade Pan Flute...with Straws!




This is my first Instructible, so go easy on me.

I babysit for a friend of mine, and her little girl is a HUGE Legend of Zelda fan. While YouTubing, she apparently came across this tutorial on how to make a set of pan flutes at home, but the tutorial she showed me used actual power tools, and that's not something I am physically (or mentally) capable of doing without "adult supervision" myself. Thus, we went with an easier method.

I got this tutorial from Googling the phrase "how to make pan flute straws". It's from a website called ScienceOffCenter.org, and it's a whole lot easier than using power tools and/or modeling clay. Thus, we opted for this method.

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Step 1: Supplies

I didn't get a snapshot of this because I didn't think about 

What you will need:

  • 8 straws (we used big, old fashioned milkshake straws from a local restaurant, though regular size will do)
  • Ruler or Measuring Tape* 
  • Tape
  • Scissors
  • Markers (optional)

*Note: In the tutorial, she uses the metric system to measure the cuts. Unfortunately, I spent my high school and middle school math classes dozing off and failed to learn how to convert the two. As my ruler did not have centimeters, I taped a section of measuring tape to my desk. If your ruler HAS centimeters, you won't have to do this. 

Step 2: Measuring

My mother always told me, "Measure twice, cut once." For something this simple, too much work.

However, to get the desired sound, you want your straws to be roughly around these lengths:

19.5 cm (Cutting probably won't be required for this, as most straws are apparently this length.)
17.0 cm
15.5 cm
14.5 cm
13.0 cm
11.5 cm
10.0 cm
9.5 cm

*We used a marker to mark each straw before we cut. If you don't feel like doing this, simply cut each straw at the appropriate spot after you have measured it. If you do this, however, please skip the next step.*

Measure and mark your straws with a marker. Don't worry if they're not perfect. I know ours weren't. Odds are, if you're using this Instructible to make a set of these, you're not a high class musician who wants pitch perfect sound. You're more likely to be, much like myself, a harried caretaker to one or more rambunctious children who need something stimulating to occupy their hands/minds. In which case, the final sound quality won't matter much. 

Step 3: Cut

Once you have measured your straws, simply snip them along the lines with a pair of common, everyday scissors. Align them from largest to smallest.

*If you would like to have a more spacious set of pipes, place one of the snipped pieces between each of your "reeds". This is unnecessary  in the long run, but it will make it easier for younger children to learn to play the instrument.*

Step 4: Tape

Finally, tape the arranged straws together. You can use any kind of tape. We used masking tape, because A) it's all I had in my art supply box, and B) it's easier to decorate with markers/crayons/colored pencils.

Step 5: Finished Product

As you can see, the Homemade Straw Pan Flute is fun, fast, and easy. It's a great way for children of all ages to enjoy making their own music. Best of all, it probably won't cost a dime to make. I hope your little one enjoys learning to play their very own instrument.

Happy piping!



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    15 Discussions

    Ching YeeC

    3 years ago

    really good tutorial I forgot my homework project that's due tomorrow and i am Abel to do it just in time and I didn't miss my presentation. Thanks

    2 replies
    Ching YeeCChing YeeC

    Reply 3 years ago

    it worked pretty good tho but just at first mine can't make noise at all coz I put my mouth on the straws


    3 years ago

    Really good tutorial and you were really nice too!


    3 years ago

    Thank You!!!


    I was using this for the Boy Scout Music merit Badge, and it worked pretty well. Thanks.


    5 years ago

    Thank you, forgot about my sons project that is due tomorrow and we'll be able to do this in the am so he won't miss his presentation!!


    6 years ago on Introduction

    I made these then learned how to play "Zelda's Lullaby" on them. Epic tutorial!


    6 years ago

    Mine won't make noise. Is it supposed to make noise? Or is it just decoration

    1 reply

    Reply 6 years ago

    Blow into the straws, but don't put your mouth on them. Otherwise, it's the same as blowing bubbles into a drink.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    This is pretty awesome. I never much cared for the DS Zelda games, so I went ahead and made my own design. I'm pretty happy with it. Thanks for the tutorial!


    6 years ago on Step 5

    Thanks so much!!!! this was a brilliant idea! i will definitely be adding that to my list of crafts!