Make Your Own Instrument - Pan Pipes
Pan pipes are instruments that date far back into history, even figuring into the mythological story of Pan. The pipe is often used in folk music, providing a harmonica-like flute sound. The traditional panpipe has about ten pipes, but it will be easier to make your own with about five pipes.
This project is for people who like to learn by making things, and for anyone who loves music. Be sure to read the instructions all the way through before beginning the project. You will also want to gather all of the materials you need because you won’t want to stop halfway through a project due to a missing object.
I’ve made this project with children before, but you will want to practice safety while using the saw. If you are doing this with young kids, I suggest you do the sawing yourself. In fact, unless you are doing this with older children, you should prepare the materials ahead of time, and have the younger children simply put the pipes together.
Gather Your Materials:
- Bamboo – get a good length from nature, or buy an inexpensive bamboo fishing pole at a local sporting goods store.
- Small saw – something like a hacksaw.
- Dowel – buy a dowel from a craft store, or use a stick from nature.
- Penknife – make sure it Is sharp.
- Glue – regular glue is fine, like Elmer’s.
- Twine – I prefer a good hemp twine because it is very strong and easy to use.
Make Your Pan Pipes:
Saw off a length of bamboo about 6 to 8 inches long. It needs to have one end open, and the other end closed by a joint.
Use your penknife to cut a sharp notch 1 inch from the open end of the bamboo. The notch needs to be cut through to the hollow part of the bamboo, and about 1/3 of the way through the entire piece of bamboo.
Whittle (cut) out a 1½ inch long wooden plug to fit into the open end of the bamboo. It needs to fit snugly without splitting the bamboo. The plug must have a flat area carved on the top.
Put some glue on the plug, and then push it into the bamboo unit it gets just to the edge of the notch. Make sure the flat area is on top of the plug.
Blow into the whistle to check the sound. Move the plug in and out until you get the best sound.
Make several whistles like this, but in different lengths. You will want to adjust each one until they make clear whistle sounds.
Split another piece of bamboo into four strips, and tie the strips to the whistles, one at a time in a crisscross knot.
You can play your flute by blowing across the open ends of the flutes. Practice making different sounds with each of the pipes, and you will find that you can play some interesting and beautiful harmonies.