Kids love making music, especially when they are involved with creating the musical instrument. Flutes are simple to make yet produce a beautiful sound that is a nice accompaniment to other homemade instruments such as drums. The flute produces sound from the flow of air across a rectangular opening, or embouchure, and the sound is modified by pressing fingers over additional holes in the instrument.
The materials choice for the flute depends on the age of the child. Younger children can make flutes from sturdy cardboard tubes. Older children enjoy the challenge of making a Native American-style flute from PVC plumbing pipe. Each flute has a personalized sound like traditional Native American flutes and does not need to be tuned.
Cardboard Tube Flute
Make simple flutes from sturdy cardboard tubes such as tubes from the center of aluminum foil rolls. Because of the tools involved, adult supervision or assistance is necessary. Use a saw to cut the cardboard tube to 12 ½-inches long. Measure and mark 2 ¼ inches from one end of the tube. Use a sharp knife to cut a rectangular hole ¾-inches long. Measure and mark three inches from the rectangular hole and begin making finger holes with the sharp knife. Make six finger holes each an inch apart ending 1 1/2 inches from the opposite end of the flute. Cut a cardboard circle the same diameter as the flute and tape in place to block the end. Let children decorate as desired with markers, paint or stickers.
PVC Pipe Flute
Make a Native American-style flute from leftover household plumbing materials. Use the length of your forearm from elbow to longest fingertip to measure and cut a piece of 3/4" PVC pipe with a saw. Shape the blow end of the flute using a flat file and add holes with a drill. Use a flat file to flatten about 1 ½ inches of the PVC pipe on one end. Drill a ¼-inch hole 1/8-inch from the flattened end of the pipe. Drill two 1/8-inch holes side-by-side about a ½-inch from the first hole. Shape the two holes into a rectangular hole about 3/16" by 5/16" with a small file.
PVC Flute Finger Hole Placement
Finger hole placement and the resulting musical scale personalizes the flute's sound. Use a 1/4" drill bit to make the finger holes. Measure and mark a hand-width from the opposite end of the pipe. Drill three holes a finger-width apart starting from your mark and measuring towards the middle of the pipe. Measure and mark a hand-width from the rectangular hole at the flattened end of the pipe. Drill two holes a finger-width apart starting from your mark and measuring towards the middle. Use a short piece of 3/4" wood dowel as a plug between the first two flute holes. Push the plug into the pipe. Sand the plug if the fit is too tight. Place a 1/2" to 3/4" PVC adapter over the blow end of the flute. Decorate the flute as desired using paint, tape or stickers.
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