Caitlyn Conley held a slender pipe made of bamboo against her lower lip and blew one short breath into an open end.
The 10-year-old Glenburn girl tried again.
Finally, the fifth-grader inhaled deeply and slowly exhaled downward into the pipe.
A steady note came out of the 4-inch-long piece of dried bamboo. She tried it on the smaller pipes with equal success.
“I like the way it sounds,” she said of the panpipes. “It makes a low- and high-pitched sound. I like the design of the strings against the pipes, too.”
Her mother, Debbie Conley, 43, of Glenburn, figured out how to play “Mary Had a Little Lamb” on the panpipes.
“It’s the only thing I can play on the piano, too,” she said.
Caitlyn was one of about two dozen children and adults who bought a panpipe kit Sunday afternoon for $10 at the American Folk Festival. Members of the group Andes Manta, which performed traditional music from the Andes Mountains of South America, explained how to lash the pipes together with string and play them during a demonstration in the Children’s Area set up in Pickering Square.
The kit included one 6-inch-long bamboo pipe split in half and eight pipes ranging in length from about 5 inches to 1 inch. After tying a double knot around the largest pipe with colored cord or thread, the pipe was placed between the two strips of bamboo.
Using the long end of the thread, Caitlyn and other pipe makers wrapped it around the pipe diagonally twice, forming an X. After repeating that on every pipe, the remaining thread was wrapped around either side of the bamboo strips holding the pipes in place and tied off.
Jorge Lopez and his three brothers, Fernando Lopez, Bolivar Lopez and Luis Lopez, who make
up Andes Manta, wandered through the crowd helping tiny fingers manipulate the pipes and string.
Although the Lopez family now lives in the Hudson River Valley in New York, their roots are in the highlands of the Andes. The brothers play 35 different instruments in their performances.
Andes Manta often performs in schools, Jorge Lopez said Sunday after the demonstration. It was the first time the Lopezes have shown people at a music festival how to make and play the panpipes.
“We do most of our programs in schools,” Jorge Lopez said. “We often invite them onstage to play with us at the end of our concerts.”
Caitlyn said that playing the panpipes might help when she begins taking flute lessons this fall. Her goal is to play in the school band.
“I’m going to take the panpipe to the first day of school tomorrow,” said the girl, who also plays the piano. “I’m going to experiment with it at home.”
A lot of people Sunday did what the Conleys did — took a little piece of the folk festival home with them to tide them over until next year.