Panpipes or Zampoñas can be found in many different countries around the world. Here, find out how to make your own.
By: Daria Marmaluk-Hajioannou [Daria is an award-winning children’s performer with five CDs that have won national honors. www.dariamusic.com]
Make Your Own Zampoñas (Panpipes)!
This unique instrument is often associated with the Andes mountains of South America. The wonderful, breathy notes of panpipes, known as zampoñas, play some of the most beautiful melodies from this region of the world.
Authentic panpipes are made from hollow reeds that are similar to bamboo. Long straight reeds grow near the lakes in the Andes mountains and are harvested and cut into individual lengths. Multiple reeds of different lengths are bound together to create the type of panpipes seen here. If you look closely you can see the notes for each reed marked on the inside top section of the instrument.
Can you create your own version of panpipes? Definitely!
What You Need:
- Straws (the wider the diameter of the straw, the better the sound!)
- Small piece of sturdy cardboard
- Transparent tape
- A small length of ribbon for decoration (optional)
What You Do:
Cut a length of sturdy cardboard. A six to eight inch piece works well for a basic set of panpipes. Next, cut different lengths of straws and attach them to the cardboard with transparent tape from longest to shortest. Make sure you leave about one inch between the straws as it allows a child’s mouth to blow on each straw individually to get a good-sounding note.
Test out your panpipes by blowing over them to see if you like the series of notes you’ve created. It can be helpful to have enough materials to try this craft several times. That way you can create a set of panpipes that sound good to your ear and play a scale of notes you might want to experiment with.
If you like, add a bit of decoration. Cover the outer cardboard area with a bit of cloth or ribbon and tape it into place. This gives the look of traditional zampoñas. You can also color or draw on the cardboard or add stickers to decorate your instrument as well.
Playing The Panpipes
Have you ever blown over the top of a bottle to create a wonderful whooshing musical note? If you have, you’ve just learned the correct technique for playing the panpipes.
Here’s one hint. It can be a bit tricky for most kids and adults to get the hang of blowing over the tops of the straws. Almost everyone wants to blow down into the straws. Remember that you can create the best notes by blowing over the tops of the straws at a ninety degree angle.
Think of it as if you are imitating the wind as it rushes across the tops of hollow reeds on the shores of a lake. Experiment with your panpipes and enjoy!
You can hear traditional zampoñas on this recording of music from the Andes for children:
Cancioncitas De Los Andes / Little Songs Of The Andes On Itunes
Cancioncitas De Los Andes / Little Songs Of The Andes on Amazon mp3