Straw Flute




Introduction: Straw Flute

About: The Oakland Toy Lab is a community-based wonder lab for students to build, tinker, explore, make, break, and learn! We are writing up engaging science experiences so that educators, parents, youth, and famil...

Huzzah! Welcome to your ticket to first chair at the fast food restaurant orchestra! With your new straw flute, you are sure to razzle, dazzle, or at least mildly annoy those around you. For the full effect, have 30 first graders make them and impress their parents at assembly. :)

This project is quick, loud, and yet there is an amazing amount that you can learn about sound and pitch through these small instruments. Play, modify, and make some noise!

The details:

  • What: A straw flute!
  • Time: ~ 3 minutes
  • Cost of Materials: ~ 2 cents
  • Materials: Straw (medium gage)
  • Tools: Scissors
  • Concepts: Sound, Pitch, Resonance, Wind

Step 1: Cut Your Mouthpiece

Cut one end of your straw to a point. Start by squeezing one end together with your fingers, and then cutting two angular cuts to get a triangle.

After you do this, you can even play it now! Sound will come from placing the triangle between your teeth, clamping down a bit, and blowing to make the triangular tip vibrate. It takes a minute to get right, but once you do, you're golden!

Step 2: Cut Your Flute Holes

Let's give our flute some range! Add flute holes by bending the straw and cutting small triangular notches. When you unfold it, you'll reveal your diamond-shaped flute hole.

You can add a couple, and cover or uncover them with your fingers to get different tones. Each tone will depend on where you place them. If you want to check what note you're making, you can use this free online tuner here which uses your computer microphone.

Step 3: You're Done!

Congratulations! You can do all sorts of modifications so let's see what you make!

This is fun for yourself or for a class on sound. Try cutting the straw to different lengths to see what happens to pitch. You can also try calculating where the holes should go to make full chromatic scales.

If you're interested, this is a resource on the physics behind flutes.

Happy fluting!

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9 Discussions

Very nice. As a recommendation put some diagrams (like mouth with the correct position of the tube, example in the link below) and the distances that plays a good sound for the holes. It becomes easy for beginners. Thanks for sharing this.

1 reply

This is super helpful! Especially as we get to some more complicated ones, we should get those in for sure. Thank you so much. We'll try to post some videos soon, too!

awesome ibble! I am going to make a bunch of these for my younger siblings

PS: some video would help too :) See this

i made one of these ages ago and played imperial march, it annoyed my brothers :D

is it better to have a short or long reed?


great first ibble! keep it up and we all will have a great time playing with your toys. have made this with out the holes time to try version 2

So cool! I made these as a kid, but never thought to put holes in them to change the tone and play various notes. Very nicely done.

1 reply

Hi seamster!

Thanks for the comment and happy support! This is our first Instructable ever, and you're our first comment ever. Huzzah!