The Performing Arts Series

Joseph Bruchac

The Flute and the Drum


Age range: Good for 9-12 year olds

Estimated Time: Give yourself some time! This interactive takes about 15 minutes to complete.

Key Technology: Teachers can choose to stream this video on a computer and project it onto a screen or whiteboard with speakers or to let students watch individually on computers with headphones.

This interactive features author and storyteller Joseph Bruchac explaining the origin and significance of the flute and the drum to Native American culture.

Think About...

Listening Strategy: As you listen stay focused on your purpose. Find out how the flute and the drum became such important parts of Native American culture.

Before you get started, think of what you already know about Native American culture. Keep this in mind as you watch the video clips.

After watching each clip, sum up what you have learned.

Why does Bruchac say that the flute is a “gift from the birds and the wind?”

  • Why do you think that Native Americans devised stories of origin for the flute and the drum?
  • How do you think other cultures might explain the origin of the drum and the flute?

Quiz Yourself!

  • To which body part does Bruchac compare the drum?
  • What bird does Bruchac say the holes in the flute remind us of?

Learn More

Dig Deeper!

Learn more about Joseph Bruchac at http://www.josephbruchac.com/

Find out more about Native American storytelling at http://www.pbs.org/circleofstories/

For the Educator

These video clips feature Joseph Bruchac explaining the significance of the flute and the drum to Native Americans. Bruchac is not only a musician but also an author and storyteller.

Instructional Strategies

  • This interactive lends itself to large-group or individual listening as well as to both individual and group research.
  • Bruchac says on his web site that even though he has Slovak and English roots in addition to his Native American heritage, the “Native roots are the ones by which he has been most nourished.” Ask students to create a family tree which includes family members as well as their ethnic heritage. Discuss in what ways students have been “nourished” by their different ethnic roots.
  • Have students read Bruchac’s biography at http://www2.scholastic.com/browse/contributor.jsp?id=1784. After a discussion, have students pen their own biography and then peer edit one another’s work.
  • Read aloud two of Bruchac’s poems, Tsaile Dawn and Prayer. Discuss Bruchac’s relationship with nature and how this is reflected in his writing. Have students write their own poems in which they explore their relationship with the natural world.
  • Have students draw illustrations of one of Bruchac’s poems.

If time and budget allow, consider making Native American drums. Directions can be found at:

You may also consider making a flute:



Daniella Garran
Original Writer

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