Designing a Reed Instrument

Blowing a Straw Whistle

Design and construct your own wind instrument that uses a vibrating reed and makes sounds with four different pitches.

  • 6 plastic drinking straws, thin
  • 6 plastic drinking straws, thick
  • hole punch
  • scissors

Make a straw reed by cutting a wedge about 1 cm ( 1/2 inch ) long at one end of a plastic drinking straw. Now flatten the reed by pulling it between your thumbnail and forefinger.

To make a longer instrument, flare the end opposite the reed by inserting a pencil and stretching the plastic. Remove the pencil and fit another straw of the same size into the flared end.

Now punch holes in the side of the straw using a hole punch. It will help if you make the holes so they are at the top of the instrument when you play it. Note: don't punch through both sides of the straw!

To make a slide instrument

Take two straws-- one thick and one thin. At one end of the smaller straw, make a reed. Insert the other end of the thin reeded straw into the thicker straw.

Experiment with your instrument.


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