Other Instruments to Make from Bamboo

Occasionally it is possible to obtain one of the long bamboo poles manufacturers place in the centre of a wide roll of carpet. These can be cut with a tenon saw and if one aims each time to cut across a joint the result is a useful collection of pieces of different lengths, some having both ends closed, some with only one end closed, and others open at both ends.

Use two closed tubes of different lengths. Drill a large hole (about I-inch) as near one end as possible in each piece. Press in plastic beads or lead shot of such a size that it is difficult to press them in so that, once in, they will not fall out and cannot be fished out. Use enough to give a good rattle sound and put the same number of beads or pellets in the other tube. Remove any rough fibres with sandpaper and rub the bamboo with wax polish. Tie the two tubes together with coloured tape leaving about twelve inches of tape between them. These are used, one in each hand, by shaking them alternately so that the beads jump from the top to the bottom of the tubes. The noise they make differs in pitch and shows children that different sizes of the same materials make different noises.

Open-ended bamboo tubes of different lengths but similar thickness can be used for a rudimentary three- or four-note xylophone, either using a plastic box as already suggested or by roping them together very closely like a rope ladder with thick string or cord. Use enough cord to make a loop or handle to hold it by. Make the handle in the same way as a button loop – several strands of rope bound together with half hitches (blanket stitch for those who have forgotten or never learned how to make knots).

Use two or three pipes of different lengths open at one end and joined together with a length of tape or bound together with cord. Blow evenly across the top of each tube and they make a different noise. Very small children find this too difficult but it is still a useful addition to the music table. Virtually all the other instruments we provide for children depend on some kind of striking action, such as bells, drums and rattles, but this is the easiest way to show them how air can be used to make a noise. This can lead on to penny whistles, recorders and flageolets in some years’ time.

All of these bamboo instruments are useful for guessing games, sound effects for story-telling, and putting on the music table for children to play with. Thin pieces of bamboo can also be used as handles for bell sticks and sprays.