Wednesday, January 7, 2009

January 28th is National Kazoo Day!!!_Kazoo facts and How to make 3 different Kazoos

NATIONAL KAZOO DAY is Jan 28, 2009!

National Kazoo Day 2009 will be celebrated on Wed. Jan. 28th, because it is convenient to Your Chairperson. (Our rules designate the 4th Thursday in January or whenever convenient to the kazooist.)

May all of you have an eco-friendly and economically feasible HAPPY KAZOO YEAR!
This year we commemorate the 159th birthday of the Kazoo!

For Your Information:
The kazoo is a type of mirliton - a device which modifies the sound of a person's voice by way of a vibrating membrane.

On Playing the Kazoo:

Playing the kazoo is not actually "humming" it is more about "singing" in order for the kazoo to make any sound.
If you speak "do, do, do..." into the kazoo mouthpiece, the 'hard' vocalization makes a more effective sound.

History of the Kazoo
Such instruments have been used in Africa for hundreds of years, to disguise the sound of somebody's voice or to imitate animals, often for various ceremonial purposes. It was on such an instrument that the kazoo, invented by an African American named Alabama Vest in the 19th century in Macon, Georgia, is based. The first kazoo was manufactured to Vest's specifications by Thaddeus von Clegg, a German clockmaker in Macon. The kazoo was first publicized at the Georgia State Fair in 1852. The first metal kazoos were manufactured and patented in Eden, New York, where they are still made in the original factory.

The kazoo is played professionally in jug bands and comedy music, and by amateurs everywhere. It is one of the few acoustic instruments to be developed in the United States and one of the easiest melodic instruments to play well, requiring only the ability to vocalize in tune. In North East England and South Wales, kazoos play an important role in so-called juvenile jazz bands (really children's marching bands).

Leonard Bernstein included a segment for kazoo ensemble in the First Introit (Rondo) of his Mass_(theatre). The kazoos are played by the boy's choir.

One of the best known kazooists in recent times might be Barbara Stewart. She was a classically trained singer who has written a book on the kazoo, formed the "quartet" Kazoophony, and performed at Carnegie Hall. She appeared on Late Night with Conan O'Brien.

Classical Kazoo Choir

Kazoos are not just for kids!!!


Comb Kazoo
You will need:
waxed paper

How to:
Fold the waxed paper in half over the comb with the teeth of the comb in the fold.
Tah Dah!!!
Play by placing your mouth over the toothed edge and humming (well more like singing).
You can also try moving the comb from side to side.

Cardboard Tube Kazoo
What you need:
Cardboard tubes (from toilet rolls, plastic or foil wrap, paper towel)
Waxed paper
Markers or crayons

How to:
1. Decorate your tube with markers or pencil crayons.
2. Cut a 5 inch square out of waxed paper.
3. Place the square of waxed paper on one end of tube and secure with an elastic.
4. To play your kazoo gently hum into the open end of the kazoo.

Straw Kazoo
What you need:
drinking straws

How to:
First, flatten out one end of a straw. The easiest way to do this is to bite on it.
With a pair of scissors, cut the flattened end of the straw in an upside-down "V" shape.
This will act as a reed just like in a clarinet.
Place the "V" end of the straw in your mouth so that the "V" end is just past the inside of you lips.
Press on the "V" with your lips while blowing.
This might take some practice. You may have to separate the "V" a bit.

You can also try cutting the straw and then blowing on it.
Do you hear how the pitch of your "kazoo" is higher?

Here is the only picturebook I could find that featured kazoo playing:

There once was a duck
who loved the kazoo.

He played:
La ditty, da ditty, zu zu.

some info I used was found at

Monday, January 5, 2009

The Tiger finds a Teacher

China - A Han Story

Once upon a time, in the depths of a mountain range, there lived a tiger. He was a very strong tiger, but, thanks to the fact that he was unusually clumsy, he could hardly ever catch any animals.

One day he went out from his cave to look for food. As he went along he saw a cat speeding towards him, coming down the mountainside. The cat's swift and easy movements were the envy of the tiger, who thought to himself, "Wouldn't it be fine if I were as clever as that cat!"

He went to the cat and said pleadingly, "Honored Teacher Cat, could you teach me how to climb the mountain as well as you do?"

Knowing that tigers are wicked at heart, the cat was afraid that if she taught him all she knew, then probably her own life would be in danger. She therefore shook her head and said, rather hesitatingly, "I don't think I'd better. If I do, how do I know you'll not use your knowledge against me?"

The tiger behaved fawningly, and kowtowed deeply to the cat.

"Honored Teacher Cat," he said, "I am a man of my word. If you will be so kind as to teach me, I will not betray your goodness. And afterwards, if anyone should bully you, I shall crush him to death."

Hoodwinked by these honeyed words, the cat began to be sympathetic. She put her head on one side and said, "All right. If you really promise that, and are sure you will not be ungrateful, I'll teach you."

The tiger was overjoyed. He waved his tail and knelt down in front of her, saying, "In future, when I have mastered all the skills of climbing hills and catching animals, I shall never forget you, my teacher. May I fall into the deepest gully and be crushed to death myself if I am ever unkind to you!"

He kept his word for some time, and behaved to the cat as one should behave to a teacher. Every day from dawn to dusk the cat did her best to teach her pupil. Very soon she had taught him all her tricks except one. The tiger was very pleased with himself, and highly satisfied with the cat as a teacher.

Then one day, when he came to his teacher for further instruction, he looked at the cat's plump body, and his mouth began to water. What a good meal she would make! But the cat was fully aware of his bad intentions. She decided to give him a test.

"I have taught you all I know," she said. "You need no further lessons."

The tiger thought his chance had come. "Aha!" he said to himself. "This fat little cat will not escape my claws now!" But he thought he had better make sure that he had not misunderstood her, so he asked again, "Honored Teacher Cat, are you certain you have taught me everything?"

"Yes, everything!" said the wily cat.

An idea flashed into the tiger's head, and his eyes sparkled. "Teacher," said he, "what is that there on the tree?"

As the cat turned her head to look, the tiger, his jaws wide open and his claws out, threw himself upon her. But as quickly the cat ran up the tree.

The cat sat up in the tree, and said indignantly, "Well! You ungrateful creature! Your word is worth nothing. It was lucky for me that I had been prudent enough not to teach you how to climb trees. If I had taught you that, I see, you would have eaten me by now."

The tiger flew into a rage and flung himself repeatedly at the tree. But he did not know how to climb it. He tried to gnaw it down, but the trunk was so thick that he could make no impression on it. The cat skipped about in the branches, now and then tantalizing him by sitting down to wash, or look at him. The tiger grew angrier and angrier, and raged about, but there was nothing he could do. Finally the cat jumped easily to another tree, and then another, until she had vanished.

All the tiger's wicked schemes came to naught, and all he could do was to make his way up the mountain again.

Source: Folk Tales from China, Second Series (Peking: Foreign Languages Press, 1958), pp.078-81. No copyright notice.

story found here