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As you already know, the Chang Jiang river runs from west to east across China.  Chinese civilization goes back for thousands of years. There is evidence that the Chinese have had a well-developed musical culture since at least 1000 B.C.  Traditional Chinese music was played on solo instruments, meaning one instrument at a time. One of the oldest known Chinese instruments was the bamboo pipe or bamboo flute.  The Chinese had plentiful bamboo, which has a hollow stem, so using it to make an instrument made perfect sense. Take a look at the video below to hear what a bamboo flute sounds like.

Follow the link below to read more about bamboo flutes.

Making a bamboo flute is pretty easy, but unlike the Chinese, most of us don’t have a lot of bamboo laying around.  What you might have on have handy is a drinking straw. Did you know that you can change the drinking straw into a musical instrument?  It might not sound quite as beautiful as a bamboo flute, but it will still make music. Watch the video below to learn how to turn an ordinary drinking straw into a flute.  All you need is a plastic straw and a pair of scissors.

When you are finished making and “playing” your straw flute, think about the following questions:

  1. Why does the sound change when the short becomes shorter?
  2. Why does there need to be a V cut into the top of the straw where you blow?
  3. How does adding the holes to the straw make a change in the sound?
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