Bamboo Panflutes

We have bamboo in our backyard that goes wild after good rain. Out of nowhere the spears shoot up, rising way past the top of our 6ft fence, before sprouting leaves. It provides great screening, but often needs serious pruning! The kids have used the  pruned bamboo spears in their play in the past. Recently we tried something new.

Panflutes or panpipes are very old, and very simple.  They are pitched, meaning you can play different notes with them, and sound is made by blowing across the bamboo sections of varying length.

To make our panflute we first stripped the bamboo of leaves and cut sections of bamboo, which the kids ordered according to length. We wrapped string around the first section, joining it to the second, then the third, and so on. This was a bit fiddly. We then wrapped string around all of the five sections.

Finally, we wrapped in between each section. This helped to pull it all together tightly. We trimmed all of the ends and left them hanging at one side. Traditionally these were often plaited decoratively, or used to create a neck strap.

As you can see from the photos, our panflute is fairly rudimentary! We could have sanded the cut sections of bamboo, we could have sealed the ends with wax, we could have used a crossbar… If you want to try a more authentic method, instructables have a 50+ step DIY guide.

For us, the fun of this activity was in making something from nothing. We created a real musical instrument with string, secateurs, and a plant from the backyard. 

What could you and your kids create in the backyard together…?

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