By cutting 2 “lips” right into the flattened end of a soda straw and also blowing with simply the best pressure, you have the right to make sound resonate in the straw.

You are watching: How to make a straw oboe



Flexible or directly plastic soda straws (if friend use straight straws, be certain not to bend them when doing this Snack, otherwise the won"t work)ScissorsOptional: Poster paper, tape
Flatten one finish of her soda straw by sticking the end in her mouth, biting down v your teeth, and also pulling the out. Do this numerous times to do a flexible, flat-ended straw.

Put the reduced end that the straw in your mouth and also make a seal with your lips. Blow into the straw. You will do it probably have to experiment with blowing harder and softer while biting down v different amounts of pressure until you make the straw sing.

The beveled “lips” you reduced into the squashed end of the straw act as a reed for her instrument.

When friend blow right into the reed and get the vibrating, girlfriend send pulses that compressed air down the straw, leading to the wait in the pipe to start vibrating, too. Influenced by the size of the tube, this vibrating air consequently affects the reed’s vibrations. Once the reed vibrates at just the appropriate frequency, the air in the straw vibrates powerfully, and also you hear a loud, buzzing note, type of choose an oboe.

When girlfriend blow with the straw, there is a high push in her mouth. As air rushes v the straw, the pressure in the straw drops. The high pressure exterior the straw pushes the political parties of the reed inward, closing turn off the flow. The press then builds inside the straw and also pops the reed open up again.

The sound from your straw oboe is an example of a phenomenon dubbed resonance. Every object has actually a natural frequency, a tendency to vibrate at a certain rate. As soon as you vibrate something at its herbal frequency, that resonates, an interpretation that the vibrations build and also grow an ext and more extreme. Other instances of resonance incorporate a automobile that shudders at details speeds, a child swinging higher and greater on a swing, and also a glass not correct by the high note of a soprano.

The straw oboe resonates as soon as the sound tide bouncing earlier and forth inside do a one-of-a-kind pattern dubbed a stand wave. Was standing waves take place when waves going one way overlap with waves walk the opposite way, producing a collection of peaks and valleys the seem to stand still. You can’t see the standing waves in your straw, but you deserve to hear them.

The exact note the you hear once you blow her straw oboe relies on the size of the straw. In a shorter straw, the standing tide inside the straw will be shorter, too, leading to the key to be higher. In a longer straw, the stand wave will be longer, and the note you hear will be lower.

There are numerous ways come experiment through your straw oboe:

Slide a slightly bigger straw ~ above the end and also use it prefer a trombone.Cut finger holes right into the straw v scissors and play it like a recorder.Snip the straw shorter and shorter with scissors to adjust its pitch.Devise a “bell” with file and tape come make your instrument louder.

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This science Snack is component of a collection that highlights black color artists, scientists, inventors, and also thinkers whose work aids or broadens our expertise of the phenomena discover in the Snack.


Walter Kitundu (1973– present), pictured above,is one artist, musician, and also educator who creates kinetic sculptures and sonic installations, establishes public works, build (and performs on) extraordinary musical instruments, if studying and also documenting the natural world. Kitundu was the recipient of a reputation MacArthurFellowship in 2008. He has held artist residencies at the, Montalvo arts Center, and the Headlands facility for the Arts. This scientific research Snack provides you an opportunity to do your very own musical instrument!