Airport Security Officer: “Excuse me ma’am, what is THIS in your luggage?” *points to x-ray scan*
Me: “A kazoo.”
Me: “A kazoo!”
Officer: “Why do you have a kazoo in your bag?”
Me: “Because I am a clown.”
Officer: *looks at me like I’m a nut*
Well…I am a nut.
I have been questioned at length by airport security because they couldn’t figure out what a kazoo — such a weird foreign object! — was doing in my suitcase. If any of you have been following my career you know that I am the Kazoo Clown Queen! I use my kazoo to announce the winners of the Mooseburger Clown Camp scholarships over the phone. I always keep one on my desk, in my car, and probably even in my purse. I have taught thousands of clowns how to make funny kazoo horns and strut their stuff down the street. A kazoo is magic! I’ve seen it turn an adult into a little kid in three seconds flat!
In this article, I’ll teach you how to play the kazoo, ways to make your own instrument, and lead a kazoo band.
How do you play a kazoo?
It’s easier than you think. Most people make two mistakes when they first pick up a kazoo: They put their mouth on the small end, and they blow air into it. Nope. And nope.
Here is how you play this funny instrument correctly:
- Put your mouth on the wide end.
- Hum your tune.
- Stop before you drive your family crazy!
How does a kazoo work?
The kazoo is in the family of musical instruments called “mirlitons” or “membranophones”. These instruments make their sound by sympathetic vibration with the human voice. Your humming causes the wax paper resonator to vibrate in the kazoo, and the shape of the kazoo helps amplify and project the sound.
If it doesn’t play for you right away, try saying the word “who”. If there is still no vibration, that means the wax paper resonator is missing or damaged.
It is believed the kazoo was co-invented in 1840 by a African-American, Alabama Vest, and a German-American, Thaddeus Von Klegg.
National Kazoo Day: Jan. 28th (maybe)
National Kazoo Day occurs annually on or about January 28 (or whenever it is convenient to the kazooist). Many kazooists choose the fourth Thursday in January because it’s handy.
As stated by the day’s founder, Chaplin Willard Rahn of the Joyful Noise Kazoo Band at the Homewood Retirement Home: “After all, we have to be flexible.”
Right there — you can see that they don’t take themselves too seriously. How fun!
Lead Your Own Kazoo Band
A few weeks before your class –
- Start with a meeting to find out how many people are interested and tell them to start collecting plastic containers (laundry detergent bottles, milk jugs, etc.). A “fostners bit” attached to a drill will help cut to safely drill a hole in a detergent bottle for a funnel. Get creative! Even stuffed toys have been used as parts of instruments.
- Buy appropriate quantity of funnels, hose, and kazoos. On average, an instrument made from garden hose will use 24” – 48” of hose.
- Begin collecting scissors, tape, craft glue, markers, pipe cleaners, feathers, and other little decorations and tools to help your students create the instruments. Oriental Trading catalogs and dollar stores are a great place to find cheap resources.
- Pick your songs and make sure you can hum them all the way through yourself before teaching them. Print up sheets with the song titles in the order you will perform them for your students to take home and practice.
- Make up some example instruments before the class, one with garden hose and one with a recycled bottle.
- Remind students to bring money for a lab fee. Usually $5 is enough to cover the cost of a kazoo and all the materials.
On the day of class –
- Before class: Set up work stations with bins full of your materials and lots of scissors, glue, and tape. Depending on location and messiness of your students, you may want to lay down some plastic tarp first.
- 15 Minutes: Start by explaining how the band works and where/when you will perform. Show the examples of the two instruments. Hand out kazoos. Have them play their kazoo for a few seconds. You’d be surprised how many people do not know how to play a kazoo. Don’t blow it – just HUM!
- 30 Minutes: Have them get started on their instruments. They can always take them home later for embellishment if they don’t get finished in the 30 minutes. Lastly, have them connect the kazoo to the instrument before you practice.
- 30 Minutes: Practice the songs first by sitting down. Make sure they get the hang of each song’s beginning and ending. Run through the songs 2 or 3 times.
- 30 Minutes: Next, practice the songs while standing up in formation. Try marching in place. Add some fun movements like bending the knees on a slide note or leaning to the left and then to the right. Be creative!
- 15 – 30 Minutes: Discuss your performance and how you will enter the arena, how to exit, how to act between songs, etc. Maybe plan some jokes in between songs, and have the rest of the band answer in unison – make sure they all laugh together at the corny punch-line. If you are doing this for a parade, remember to schedule time in the route to catch your breath and pace yourself. Have fun with it!
- After class: Plan at least 2 practices before your big performance.
Did you know that Pricilla Mooseburger Originals carries kazoo band kits with all the cool fun stuff? (you just supply the garden hose!) Check out our kazoo supplies: www.mooseburgeronline.com
Do you like to make this sort of stuff?
Create silly props like these and other creative clown items in Terry Rickett’s amazing Prop Shop at Mooseburger Clown Arts Camp.
He will be bringing crates of craft supplies and millions of ideas. It is the perfect environment for you to tinker on your perfect prop, or pop in to make a quick kazoo horn.
You would LOVE spending a week surrounded by fun-loving clowns as crazy as yourself!
Click here to find out more about Moose Camp or call me toll-free to talk about how it could be right for you: 800-973-6277
Be Inspired! Read more about kazoos, props, and parades:
- Do you have an ice-breaker?
- How can a kazoo keep your clown club together?
- The healing power of a kazoo band
- How to have the BEST parade ever!
- Being your best and feeling your best in a parade
Do YOU have a unique way use a kazoo in your clown performance?
Comment below or post on our Facebook wall.
Mooseburger Clown Arts Education has been running one of the world’s most well-rounded clown schools since 1996. Performers from all over the globe travel to Minnesota each summer for a fun and intensive clown training program. Each aspect of our clown camp is designed to meet your needs and boost your confidence as an entertainer.
Whether you want to join the circus, visit nursing homes, run your own birthday party business, paint faces, or twist balloons, there is something just for you at Mooseburger Clown Arts Camp.
Or call me toll-free to discuss your education and see if Mooseburger is the right fit for you: 800-973-6277
Liked what you saw here? Sign up for a free subscription to Mooseburger Newz by email: