Playing Native American style Flute with Kantele

People have asked me how I decided to make both Native American style flutes and kanteles.  The answer: these instruments had such appealing sounds that I needed to have one to play myself.  After making one for myself, I needed to share the joy of playing easy-to-learn instruments.

The 5-string kantele is considerably easier both to play and to learn than its cousin, the Appalachian dulcimer.  When I haven’t played my dulcimer for a while, I have to relearn the chords. That takes a while.  The kantele has no frets — and the chords, once learned, are relatively easy to recall.

I like easy-to-play musical instruments; it makes them more approachable.  Playing musical instruments relieves stress, lets people express songs they didn’t know they had inside of them, and fosters spontaneity in music.

Too many people say about themselves, “I’m not musical.”  What they really mean is that they haven’t tried playing an instrument that they could get a pleasant sound from — including their own voices.  On a WrenSong flute or kantele, I can guarantee a first good sound — with many more beautiful notes to follow.  The qualifier here is a WrenSong flute or kantele.  People sometimes have Native American style flutes that are not predictably playable and this makes them doubt their own ability.

For every instrument I make, I play it a lot for quality control and to make sure it will play well with other instruments (concert-tuned).   Sometimes I play two or more instruments.  Not at the same time, but using a Zoom H2 microphone, my iPhone and the speaker system.

As a result of playing my flutes and the kantele, I like to share samples to demonstrate how the flute and kantele sound together.

The first sample features a WrenSong A minor six-hole flute and a 5-string kantele with Sandhill crane pyrography, tuned to D minor.

5-string kantele with sandhill crane pyrography

WrenSong Native American style flute in F#
WrenSong flute in F#

The second song features a WrenSong F# six-hole flute with a 5-string kantele with turtle pyrography tuned to D major.  All that is different in the tuning of this kantele from the first song, is that the string tuned to F in the first song is tuned to F# in this song.

5-string Kantele with turtle pyrography

WrenSong Native American style flute in Bm, Mahogany
WrenSong flute in Bm, Mahogany

The third song is an old favorite:  “Keep on the Sunny Side of Life”.   This song is played with a B minor six-hole WrenSong flute and on the 5-string kantele with the purple heart soundboard, tuned to D major.

5-string kantele made with purple heart soundboard


You can download a free pdf  of Keep on the Sunny Side of Life with the kantele chords and flute fingerings for the six-hole Bm Native American style flute.


  1. I wondered what you thought of the flute tone since you are a recorder player. They do have different voices indeed!


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