How to play Peruvian bamboo flute

The Peruvian bamboo flute, also known as the quena, is a traditional Andean instrument that has been played for centuries. This instrument is known for its unique sound and is often used in traditional music, as well as contemporary music genres. In this article, we will go over the basics of playing the Peruvian bamboo flute.

Choosing the Right Quena

Before you can start playing the quena, you need to choose the right one. There are several factors to consider when choosing a quena, such as the material, size, and pitch. The quena is traditionally made from bamboo, but it can also be made from other materials, such as wood or plastic.

When choosing a quena, make sure to choose one that is comfortable for you to hold and play. The size of the quena will depend on your hand size and playing style. The pitch of the quena can also vary, so choose one that suits your musical needs.

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How to play Peruvian bamboo flute

Basic Techniques

Once you have your quena, it’s time to start playing. The quena is played with one hand covering the top of the instrument, and the other hand holding the bottom. The top hand is responsible for creating the different notes by changing the amount of air that is blown into the quena.

To produce a sound, place your lips around the notch on the top of the quena and blow into the instrument. Adjust the amount of air you blow into the quena to create different notes. You can also adjust the position of your top hand to create different notes.

See also: How to play a 4 hole bamboo flute

Playing Scales and Melodies

To play a scale or melody on the quena, start by getting familiar with the finger positions. The quena has six holes, with the first hole being covered by the top hand. The other five holes are covered by the bottom hand.

To play a scale, start by covering the first hole with your top hand and then uncovering the first hole with your bottom hand. Continue to uncover the holes one at a time until all six holes are uncovered. This will produce a basic scale.

To play a melody, use your fingers to cover and uncover the different holes on the quena. You can also use your breath to change the pitch of the notes. Practice playing simple melodies until you feel comfortable with the finger positions and breath control.


Playing the Peruvian bamboo flute can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience. With the right quena and technique, you can produce beautiful melodies and scales. Remember to practice regularly and take your time to develop your skills. With dedication and practice, you can become a skilled quena player in no time.