Last week, Ross School fourth graders shared the results of their two-day flute-making workshop by performing a concert for their peers. The course coincided with the students’ Cultural History unit exploring ancient Mississippian and Iroquois tribes.
Led by Jay Loomis, an expert in flutes and woodwind instruments with Stony Brook University, the students learned about different types of flutes, the instruments' origins, and their historical uses beyond music. Native American shepherds, for example, used flutes to help herd animals. After sharing with the students some of the flutes from his own collection, Jay led them through the process of making their own. Each student chose a piece of hollow wood, which Jay cut to best suit each students’ desired sound and into which he drilled holes. Then the students used sandpaper to refine their instruments and decorated them with beadwork.
Once the students finished their flutes, they spent time exploring the instruments’ distinctive sound and composing original songs, which they played for an audience of their peers and families. Following the performance, Jay played several instruments from his personal collection of flutes, some of which he amassed during his world travels and others that he made by hand.