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  1. For each kazoo, cut out of tissue paper a rectangle with a length slightly longer than the comb and a width slightly wider than twice the width of the comb.
  2. Fold the tissue paper in half over the teeth of the comb.
  3. Holding the tissue paper in place over both sides of the comb, play the kazoo by placing the lips lightly against the tissue paper and humming.
  4. Encourage the students to use common and easily recognizable phrases (for example, an expression or slang phrase that is very popular at the moment), and to put as much expression as possible into the phrase. Explain that the goal is to communicate, not to stump their audience. When a phrase is successfully guessed, the student that hummed it has succeeded.
  5. Using the kazoos, the students take turns humming familiar phrases to each other and trying to guess the phrase based simply on its rhythm and inflections.

Activity: the rhythms of language

    Objectives and standards

  • Objectives - Using body percussion or simple drums provided or made for the purpose, the student will turn the rhythm of a given sentence into a two-toned drum rhythm.
  • Music Standards Addressed - National Standards for Music Education standard 8 (understanding relationships between music, the other arts, and disciplines outside the arts) and 9 (understanding music in relation to history and culture).
  • Other Subjects Addressed - The activity also addresses National Standards in the Social Studies standard 1 (culture), and National Standards for the English Language Arts standards 4 (Students adjust their use of spoken, written, and visual language (e.g., conventions, style, vocabulary) to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and for different purposes.) and 9 (Students develop an understanding of and respect for diversity in language use, patterns, and dialects across cultures, ethnic groups, geographic regions, and social roles).
  • Evaluation - Assess student learning by evaluating class participation.

Tonal inflections are not the only part of language that talking drums mimic. In any language, words, phrases and sentences have a natural rhythm. Here is an activity that helps students appreciate the rhythm of language. For a more complete exploration of this concept, see the activity in Message Drums .

    Materials and preparation

  • This activity can be done with any two drums that sound different from each other. You can use toy drums, real drums, or homemade drums.
  • Or turn ordinary objects into drums (pots, bowls, desks, books) and drumsticks (pencils, rulers, sticks). See Percussion Fast and Cheap for other suggestions.
  • Or if you do not want to bother with drums, use clapping, finger-snapping, thigh slapping, stomping, or other "body percussion."


  1. If necessary, introduce or review the concept of strong and weak syllables.
  2. Assign one drum or sound (e.g. clapping) for strong syllables, and one drum or sound (e.g. finger snapping) for weak syllables.
  3. Let the students take turns.
  4. One student says a sentence. Encourage long, creative sentences. ("I wish we could have pizza for lunch today" rather than "I want pizza".)
  5. Another student beats or claps out the rhythm of the sentence (da-DUM-da-da-da-DUM-da-da-DUM-da-da). Encourage them to mimic the natural rhythm of the sentence as much as possible. After one person has played the rhythm, see if the entire group can "play" the sentence together.
  6. Ask the students: Is there a particular length or type of sentence that is easiest to turn into a rhythm that everyone can agree on? Do the rhythms of the sentences sound alike or different? If two sentences sound too much alike, what could be done to make them sound different?
  7. If you are also studying poetry, try this activity with poetry. Can the students identify meter, line length, and poem type just from drum rhythms?

Further study and suggested resources

  • If a picture book is appropriate for your students, consider sharing with them Talking Drums of Africa by Christine Price (Charles Scribner's Sons, 1973). Featuring the Ashanti people of Ghana and the Yoruba of Nigeria, it explains how the drums are put together, how they are used, how they "talk", and the part they play in the culture.
  • If any members of the class speak a tonal language (Chinese, for example), or if a parent or other adult is available for a demonstration, ask them to help the class with a show-and-tell that demonstrates how the meaning of words in their language changes with inflection.
  • At the time of this writing, photos and sound clips of talking drums could be found at the web site of the Nigerian Talking Drum Ensemble .

Questions & Answers

Is there any normative that regulates the use of silver nanoparticles?
Damian Reply
what king of growth are you checking .?
What fields keep nano created devices from performing or assimulating ? Magnetic fields ? Are do they assimilate ?
Stoney Reply
why we need to study biomolecules, molecular biology in nanotechnology?
Adin Reply
yes I'm doing my masters in nanotechnology, we are being studying all these domains as well..
what school?
biomolecules are e building blocks of every organics and inorganic materials.
anyone know any internet site where one can find nanotechnology papers?
Damian Reply
sciencedirect big data base
Introduction about quantum dots in nanotechnology
Praveena Reply
what does nano mean?
Anassong Reply
nano basically means 10^(-9). nanometer is a unit to measure length.
do you think it's worthwhile in the long term to study the effects and possibilities of nanotechnology on viral treatment?
Damian Reply
absolutely yes
how to know photocatalytic properties of tio2 nanoparticles...what to do now
Akash Reply
it is a goid question and i want to know the answer as well
characteristics of micro business
for teaching engĺish at school how nano technology help us
Do somebody tell me a best nano engineering book for beginners?
s. Reply
there is no specific books for beginners but there is book called principle of nanotechnology
what is fullerene does it is used to make bukky balls
Devang Reply
are you nano engineer ?
fullerene is a bucky ball aka Carbon 60 molecule. It was name by the architect Fuller. He design the geodesic dome. it resembles a soccer ball.
what is the actual application of fullerenes nowadays?
That is a great question Damian. best way to answer that question is to Google it. there are hundreds of applications for buck minister fullerenes, from medical to aerospace. you can also find plenty of research papers that will give you great detail on the potential applications of fullerenes.
what is the Synthesis, properties,and applications of carbon nano chemistry
Abhijith Reply
Mostly, they use nano carbon for electronics and for materials to be strengthened.
is Bucky paper clear?
carbon nanotubes has various application in fuel cells membrane, current research on cancer drug,and in electronics MEMS and NEMS etc
so some one know about replacing silicon atom with phosphorous in semiconductors device?
s. Reply
Yeah, it is a pain to say the least. You basically have to heat the substarte up to around 1000 degrees celcius then pass phosphene gas over top of it, which is explosive and toxic by the way, under very low pressure.
Do you know which machine is used to that process?
how to fabricate graphene ink ?
for screen printed electrodes ?
What is lattice structure?
s. Reply
of graphene you mean?
or in general
in general
Graphene has a hexagonal structure
On having this app for quite a bit time, Haven't realised there's a chat room in it.
what is biological synthesis of nanoparticles
Sanket Reply
how did you get the value of 2000N.What calculations are needed to arrive at it
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Source:  OpenStax, Musical travels for children. OpenStax CNX. Jan 06, 2010 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col10221/1.11
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