Georgian Court University

Phragmites Flute

I only need listen to the sounds of the earth travelling to my heart and then transmitted through my fingers and breath into haunting musical structures to have my soul transported to a higher ground wherein I may dwell, even if only briefly, in tranquil harmony with my being.

Tim "Windwalker" Crawford

Introduction: The students will learn about one way that people from many cultures have used plants like Phragmites  that have hollow stems to make musical instruments.  The students will make their own flutes investigate the sound qualities of the resulting instruments.

Grade/Level:  6, 7, 8

Estimated Time Frame:  One class period

Subject(s): Visual and Performing Arts

New Jersey Core Curriculum Content Standards

STANDARD 1.2 (Creation and Performance) All students will utilize those skills, media, methods, and technologies appropriate to each art form in the creation, performance, and presentation of dance, music, theater, and visual art.

B. Music

·   Perform simple melodies and rhythmic accompaniments in expanded binary, ternary, and rondo form independently and in groups.

·   Improvise simple harmonic accompaniment, melodic embellishments, and simple melodies.

·         Lesson plan also addresses National Standards for Music Education standards 8 (understanding relationships between music, the other arts, and disciplines outside the arts), and 9 (understanding music in relation to history and culture) and National Standards in the Social Studies standards 1 (culture), 3 (people, places and environments).

D. Visual Art

·         Individually or collaboratively create two and three-dimensional works of art employing the elements and principles of art.

·         Distinguish drawing, painting, ceramics, sculpture, printmaking, textiles, and computer imaging by physical properties.

·         Recognize and use various media and materials to create different works of art.

Sequence Instruction:

1.      Play students a brief video of a traditional reed flute being played ( and

2.      Explain to students that in today’s lesson plan they will be making a simple reed flute.

3.      To create your Phragmites flute, start with a mature, hollow Phragmites stem from near the base.  Check the reed for damage.  Cracks, insect damage etc. will prevent proper functioning of the flute. 

4.      Cut a mouth hole 3/8" in diameter about 2" from the node that closes the end of the reed. The other end of the reed should be open.

5.      With an awl or the pointed tip of a sharp knife, pole smaller finger holes starting about 5 1/2" from the node.  Make about 5 holes, each of which is 1 1/4" from the others.

6.      The mouth hole should be a clean cut with the edges of where the hole meets the surface of the reed, not rounded.

7.      Have students try playing their flutes.   For instructions and links to fingering charts etc. try


Potential extension activities

·        Play students recordings of Native American flute music (e.g. and have them compare it with modern musical forms ( 

Resources and image source: 


© Louise Wootton

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