Musical Drinking Straws
It will be music to your ears: simple drinking straws creating sounds at different pitches.

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.
  1. 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.
  2. Cut tiny holes into one side to make a straw recorder. Place your fingers over different holes to create different notes.
  3. 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).


Musical Drinking Straws