How to Make a Paper Towel Tube Flute

Written by joshua levenson | 13/05/2017
How to Make a Paper Towel Tube Flute
Muscian holding a flute like your child will hold the paper towel flute. (beautiful woman playing flute image by Galina Barskaya from

Children are busier today than ever. You may not think you have time to add music education to their schedules, but a paper towel flute you or your child can make is one way to help younger children learn about and foster an interest in music. The paper towel flute is a project for an introductory music class, a homeschooling assignment or a scouting activity.

Designate one end of the tube as the top and one end of the tube as the bottom.

With a pencil, draw a straight line from the bottom end to the top end on the outside of the tube. You will place all of the holes on this line.

Measure 1 inch from the bottom tube end and place a dot on the line using a permanent marker. Next, measure 2 inches from the bottom of the tube and mark a second dot. You now have two dots on the line: one is 1 inch from the bottom, and the other is 2 inches from the bottom. Continue the process by marking three more dots, each 1 inch from the previous one, until you have five dots.

Trace a small rectangle 2 1/2 inches from the top end of the tube. The dimensions of the rectangle are 3/4 inches by 3/8 inches. Place the rectangle, centred, on top of the same line that connects the dots.

How to Make a Paper Towel Tube Flute
Rectangle and holes on the tube will resemble those of a recorder. (Christmas psaltery with recorders image by Robert Yoder from

Penetrate the five dots with the cutting blade to make a small hole. Cut out the rectangle with a cutting blade.

Cut five pieces of electrical tape, each 2 inches long. Place one piece across the bottom end of the tube, stretching it across so it bisects the open end. Place another piece of tape across the bottom end, forming a cross with the first piece of tape.

Rotate the tube slightly and add a third piece of tape, forming an asterisk shape. Continue rotating the tube and placing pieces of tape until the end of the tube is completely sealed.

Put a 2-inch strip of clear tape across the first longer edge of the rectangular blowhole. Press the tape around the edge, to the inside of the flute, and squeeze it with your fingers to stick it down. Repeat with the opposite long edge of the rectangle. The tape creates smooth edges for the best acoustics.

Decorate the tube with the rest of the electrical tape, if desired. Be sure not to cover any of the holes.

Hold the flute with the rectangular blowhole just below the lips and the end of the flute facing your right, just as a musician holds a real flute. Adjust for optimal sound by experimenting with the distance you hold the flute from your lips. Sporadically cover and uncover the five holes with your fingers to hear different tones.


Supervise all cutting activities for children.

Tips and warnings

  • Supervise all cutting activities for children.

Things you need

  • Paper towel tube
  • Small cutting blade
  • Pencil
  • Clear tape
  • Assorted colours of electrical tape
  • Ruler
  • Permanent marker

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