While experimenting for my project on moving things with sound I got the idea to make musical instruments using plastic objects from around the house. A little further investigation showed that I could make reeds using drinking straws. On this page is the result.
Making reeds using straws
The first thing to do was go out and gather a bunch of straws by going to a local mall's food court and asking various venders for straws. Below you can see the ones I used of all the ones I collected. After that you start making reeds, like the one shown below.
To make the reed, as shown below, pull around the last 1 1/2 inches/4 centimeters of a straw through your teeth, crushing it. The goal is to flatten the end. Concentrate on the edges, but also flatten the middle. Below, you can see how flat I've made it. Flatten it even more if you can. The flatter it is, the better. Once you've done that, cut it into a wedge shape.
On the left below, it's not flat enough. On the right is one that works well.
One trick, shown below, is to fold near the end, forming a sort of V shape. Below you can see I press the end of one finger into it while I put presure on the sides with the fingers of my other hand. Turn it around after and do the same from the other side.
Another trick shown below is to make one fold just where the reed starts to flatten out and another a little further back. Do it in both directions, folding up and then back down.
And that's it! Put the reed entirely in your mouth and blow.
Making a straw trombone
As shown below, I was lucky enough to find straws from two different vendors that fit nicely one inside the other. I realized this could be used to make a trombone since I could vary the length of the instrument this way, producing different sounds with different lengths. I taped one of the straws to my reed straw, making sure there were no air leaks at the join. Then I made 5 equally spaces marks using a marker on the straw that was furthest from the reed end, that's the straw that goes inside the other. Each mark was a different musical note. I could then play it by pulling in or out the end straw until the desired mark (or note) lined up with the end of the larger straw.
You can hear the result in the video below.
Making a straw trumpet
I could also change the length of the music instrument by putting holes in the straw and covering and uncovering the holes to get the desired notes, as shown below. Notice which finger is lifted in each of the two photos below.
Video - How to Make Music Instruments with Straws - Trombone and Trumpet
Here's a video I made showing the steps for making these straw instruments along with demonstrations. I play a little of Greensleeves with the trombone and a little of Scarborough Faire with the trumpet.
This video gives the bare essentials you need to know to read sheet music and then how the notes were mapped to the holes in the straw trombone so that you can make your own.