Reed flutes are simple instruments made and used by a variety of people, from Native Americans to Middle Eastern and South African cultures. The flute is thousands of years old and is marked by a simple five- or six-finger hole design. The reed flute is the basis for the modern-day flute, which is used around the world, according to a history from the Ancient Territories website. The basic playing style for reed and modern flutes is similar.
Cut a mature, hollow piece of bamboo (or any other reed stalk), about 14 inches long and inspect it for damage. Breaks or cracks in the reed will prevent it from making sound.
Cut a 3/8-inch diameter hole about 2 inches away from the node that closes the end of the reed. This is the mouth hole for playing and should be cut with clean edges on the surface of the reed, but does not need to be rounded.
Check to make sure the other end of the reed is left open. If both ends of the reed are open, one end can be sealed with wax. If both ends are closed, cut the bamboo at the node so that one end is open.
Carve small holes—finger sized—beginning 5 1/2 inches from the mouth hole. Carve five holes 1 1/4 inches apart.
Smooth the edges of each hole with a piece of sandpaper. Wipe the flute clean and begin to play.