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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

are nano particles real
Missy Reply
Hello, if I study Physics teacher in bachelor, can I study Nanotechnology in master?
Lale Reply
no can't
where we get a research paper on Nano chemistry....?
Maira Reply
nanopartical of organic/inorganic / physical chemistry , pdf / thesis / review
what are the products of Nano chemistry?
Maira Reply
There are lots of products of nano chemistry... Like nano coatings.....carbon fiber.. And lots of others..
Even nanotechnology is pretty much all about chemistry... Its the chemistry on quantum or atomic level
no nanotechnology is also a part of physics and maths it requires angle formulas and some pressure regarding concepts
Preparation and Applications of Nanomaterial for Drug Delivery
Hafiz Reply
Application of nanotechnology in medicine
has a lot of application modern world
what is variations in raman spectra for nanomaterials
Jyoti Reply
ya I also want to know the raman spectra
I only see partial conversation and what's the question here!
Crow Reply
what about nanotechnology for water purification
RAW Reply
please someone correct me if I'm wrong but I think one can use nanoparticles, specially silver nanoparticles for water treatment.
yes that's correct
I think
Nasa has use it in the 60's, copper as water purification in the moon travel.
nanocopper obvius
what is the stm
Brian Reply
is there industrial application of fullrenes. What is the method to prepare fullrene on large scale.?
industrial application...? mmm I think on the medical side as drug carrier, but you should go deeper on your research, I may be wrong
How we are making nano material?
what is a peer
What is meant by 'nano scale'?
What is STMs full form?
scanning tunneling microscope
how nano science is used for hydrophobicity
Do u think that Graphene and Fullrene fiber can be used to make Air Plane body structure the lightest and strongest. Rafiq
what is differents between GO and RGO?
what is simplest way to understand the applications of nano robots used to detect the cancer affected cell of human body.? How this robot is carried to required site of body cell.? what will be the carrier material and how can be detected that correct delivery of drug is done Rafiq
analytical skills graphene is prepared to kill any type viruses .
Any one who tell me about Preparation and application of Nanomaterial for drug Delivery
what is Nano technology ?
Bob Reply
write examples of Nano molecule?
The nanotechnology is as new science, to scale nanometric
nanotechnology is the study, desing, synthesis, manipulation and application of materials and functional systems through control of matter at nanoscale
Is there any normative that regulates the use of silver nanoparticles?
Damian Reply
what king of growth are you checking .?
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Source:  OpenStax, Noisy learning: loud but fun music education activities. OpenStax CNX. May 17, 2007 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col10222/1.7
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