The kazoo is a small, simple, amusing musical instrument that produces a buzzing sound. It consists of a hollow chamber with a membrane at one end and a small opening at the other. When you hum into the kazoo, the membrane vibrates, creating a unique buzzing tone. Kazoos are often made from metal, plastic, or wood, each offering its distinct sound.
History of Kazoos
The history of the kazoo is somewhat shrouded in mystery. While some claim that Alabama Vest invented the kazoo in the 1840s, there is limited documentation to support this claim. Another inventor, Warren Herbert Frost, patented a similar instrument in 1883, which marked the first documented appearance of the modern kazoo. Since then, kazoos have gained popularity and have become a staple in various musical genres.
Types of Kazoos
Kazoos come in different types, each with its unique qualities and characteristics. Let's explore the most common varieties of kazoos available:
Metal kazoos are the most popular type and are often considered classic. They are typically made from aluminium or other metals, and their design features a cylindrical body with a membrane at one end and a mouthpiece at the other. Metal kazoos are bright and resonant, making them suitable for various musical genres.
Plastic kazoos are more affordable and often favoured by beginners or children. They are lightweight, durable, and come in various vibrant colours. Plastic kazoos produce a slightly softer sound compared to metal kazoos, but they can still create delightful buzzing tones.
Wooden kazoos are an excellent choice for those seeking a touch of vintage charm. Crafted from solid wood, they offer a warm and mellow sound. Wooden kazoos are often handcrafted and feature intricate designs, making them visually appealing and musically enjoyable.
How to Play a Kazoo
Playing the kazoo is easy and requires no prior musical experience. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to play a kazoo:
The Humming Technique
To produce sound with a kazoo, you need to hum into it rather than blow. Take a breath and exhale while humming into the large end of the kazoo. The vibrations created by your humming will cause the membrane to vibrate, resulting in the distinctive buzzing sound of the kazoo.
Exploring Different Pitches
You can experiment with different pitches once you've mastered the basic humming technique. By altering the tightness of your lips and the shape of your mouth, you can produce higher or lower tones. Try humming various syllables or words to create different sounds and melodies.
Adding Vibrato and Rhythms
You can incorporate vibrato and rhythmic patterns to add depth and expression to your kazoo playing. Vibrato is achieved by slightly fluctuating the pitch of your hum, creating a subtle wavering effect. You can also tap your foot or clap your hands to establish a rhythmic beat while playing the kazoo.
Tips for Choosing the Right Kazoo
When selecting a kazoo, there are a few factors to consider. Here are some tips to help you choose the right one:
Consider the Material
Decide whether you prefer the bright sound of a metal kazoo, the affordability of a plastic kazoo, or the warm tones of a wooden kazoo. Each material offers a unique sonic experience, so choose the one that resonates with you.
Kazoos are generally affordable, ranging from a few dollars to around twenty dollars for higher-end models. Consider your budget and choose a kazoo that fits within your price range.
Where to Buy Kazoos
Kazoos are readily available online and in various stores. A few popular options where you can purchase a kazoo include Amazon, Argos, Asda, and eBay. These platforms will likely have different kazoos made from different materials, designs, and price points, and whilst you can read customer reviews to help you make an informed choice, it is worth noting that because of the huge number of products that they stock, they will likely have fewer quality checks and will be a cheaply produced product. We have a range of unique kazoos, from our solid wood kazoo to our colourful metal kazoos.
Maintenance and Care for Kazoos
Proper maintenance and care will ensure your kazoo's longevity and optimal performance. Here are some tips to keep your kazoo in top shape: After each use, wipe the kazoo with a clean cloth to remove saliva or moisture.
Avoid exposing the kazoo to extreme temperatures or direct sunlight, which can warp or damage the instrument. If your kazoo has a replaceable membrane, periodically check its condition and replace it if necessary. Store your kazoo in a protective case or pouch to prevent scratches or damage when not in use.
Kazoos in Popular Music
Though often considered a novelty instrument, kazoos have appeared in popular music throughout history. Kazoos have added a playful, unique element to many songs. Artists such as Frank Zappa, Jimi Hendrix, and The Beatles have incorporated kazoos into their music, showcasing the instrument's versatility and charm.
Benefits of Playing the Kazoo
Playing the kazoo offers numerous benefits beyond pure enjoyment. Here are a few advantages of playing the kazoo: Improves breath control and lung capacity Enhances oral motor skills and coordination Develops a sense of rhythm and timing Boosts creativity and musical expression Provides stress relief and relaxation.
Kazoos for Kids: A Fun Introduction to Music
Kazoos are an excellent instrument for introducing children to the world of music. Due to their simplicity and instant gratification, kazoos can spark a child's interest in playing music and foster a love for musical exploration. Additionally, playing the kazoo can help children develop fine motor skills, enhance cognitive abilities, and promote self-expression.
Joining a Kazoo Band or Group
For those looking to take their kazoo playing to the next level, joining a kazoo band or group can be a rewarding experience. Kazoo bands often perform at community events and festivals or even record their albums. Connecting with other kazoo enthusiasts allows you to explore new playing techniques, collaborate on musical projects, and share your passion for this unique instrument.
Unique Kazoo Accessories
Expand your kazoo playing experience by exploring various accessories explicitly designed for kazoos. Some popular accessories include:
These attachments can alter the sound of your kazoo, allowing for different tonal qualities and effects.
If you want to play the Kazoo hands-free, a Kazoo holder can be attached to your instrument, leaving your hands available to play other instruments or perform additional tasks.
Songbooks provide a collection of kazoo-friendly songs, allowing you to expand your repertoire and practice new melodies.
Kazoo (Frequently Asked Questions)
Can anyone play the kazoo?
Yes! The kazoo is an accessible instrument for people of all ages and musical backgrounds. It requires no prior musical knowledge or technical skills.
Do I need to replace the kazoo's membrane?
It depends on the type of kazoo you have. Some kazoos come with replaceable membranes, while others have permanent membranes. If your kazoo has a replaceable membrane, it's a good idea to check its condition and replace it if necessary periodically.
Can I play songs on the kazoo?
Yes, you can play melodies and even accompany songs on the kazoo.
How do I clean my kazoo?
Cleaning your kazoo is simple. After each use, wipe it with a clean cloth to remove any saliva or moisture. You could use a mild soap and water solution to clean the exterior gently, but you should avoid submerging the kazoo in water or using abrasive cleaners.
Can I perform with a kazoo in a band or ensemble?
Absolutely! Kazoos can be a fun and whimsical addition to any musical ensemble. Many bands and groups incorporate kazoos into their performances, creating a unique and memorable sound.
Kazoos are versatile instruments that can bring joy and creativity to your musical journey. Whether you're looking to play solo, join a band, or introduce your child to the world of music, a kazoo is a fantastic choice. Remember to consider the material, price range, and where to buy when selecting your kazoo. You'll soon buzz away on your kazoo with practice and a playful spirit.