Musical Drinking Straws
What You Need:
- Straight drinking straws
What to do:
- Press the end of a plastic drinking straw flat and cut two triangular shapes off each side to make a pointy end.
- Flatten this end some more, then seal your lips around the point, and blow. You will hear a squawky whistle, and the whole straw will vibrate. It's a bit tricky at first, so don't rush or blow too hard.
Once you have mastered the simple whistle, you can try these variations.
- As you are blowing, use scissors to progressively cut the end shorter and shorter, and listen to the change in the pitch of the sound.
- Cut tiny holes into one side to make a straw recorder. Place your fingers over different holes to create different notes.
- Insert another straw inside the end of the first one. (This is easily done by also flattening one end). Slide the second straw up and down to make a ‘straw trombone’.
Why is it so?
The flattened pointy end of the straw works in the same way as the reed on a clarinet or saxophone. When you blow, the particles of air that pass through this narrow space begin to vibrate – this is the buzzing sound that we hear. Changing the length of the straw changes the ‘pitch’ of the sound, that is, how high or low it is. A higher pitched sound means the air particles are vibrating at a higher frequency (faster).