Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Kazoos: 3 Reasons to Use Them in Your Classroom!

I may not have recognized the power of the kazoo if it were not for the summer camp a friend and I introduced in our area a few years ago. We knew we needed a super-catchy name with an available domain. When we discovered that CampKazoo.ca was open for purchase our decision was easily made!

Camp Kazoo offers instruction in music, visual art and coding through digital game making. As I was in charge of designing the music portion of the camp, I quickly set about developing a variety of ways to incorporate kazoo into our daily music sessions. After nearly five years of Camp Kazoo, I can honestly say I'm a huge fan of the instrument for a number of reasons.

Kids LOVE kazoos...they just do! They're colorful and they make a fun, whacky sound. That's pretty much all kids need to be happy. Our campers participate in a number of kazoo playing activities that they never seem to to tire of. They love kazoo so much that I now use them in my regular music classes year round. These are a few of the most popular activities:

Kazoo Karaoke

We call it "karaoke" because the alliteration sounds fun, but it's actually a play along activity. It's super-easy, and the kids can't get enough of it. Ask someone to suggest the latest pop tune with age-appropriate lyrics, play the song and lead the kids in playing along. It's that simple! You may even witness some really cool sitting dance moves during this activity. Sometimes I encourage this by giving "bonus points" for creative movement! Watch some of my students play along with Meghan Trainor's "Better When I'm Dancing":

I often divide the class by color or gender when playing together as a group. My instructions could be, "All the blues...now the reds...all the girls...etc." It's fun for the kids and promotes good listening all at the same time!

Name That Tune

Invite students to come up to the front and play a song of their choosing for the class. Classmates will listen carefully and try to be the first to identify the song! Here's a video example of this game:

Pick a Tune - Any Tune!

This is a variation of the "Name That Tune" activity. In this game, the student will choose from a container of hidden "mystery" song names, and play the tune for the class. They will raise their hands when they have determined the name of the song. These kids are having some fun with this one:

Kazoos can be purchased for as little 75 cents each when you buy them in bulk. This may be an expense that your school budget will cover but, if not, it's possible that parents will support the required purchase if they are aware of the benefits. I recommend Hohner because of the quality, but there are many other options out there.

Some companies will even print your school name on them. Of course, this adds to the purchase price which is always something to consider in today's economic climate.

I don't actually teach recorder now, but I did for many years. One of the things I found most challenging was meeting the needs of students who struggled to play the instrument. These difficulties could be due to anything from a simple lack of finger dexterity to more severe special needs. Not everyone can play the recorder, but most children can play a kazoo. If a child can vocalize, a kazoo sound will likely be produced. As you can see in this photo, some students are naturally playing "hands free" even though no instruction had been provided in this regard:

So, why would you incorporate kazoo into a recorder class? Wouldn't this make the students playing kazoo stand out from the others? Well, yes, those students would stand out from the crowd, but this is not necessarily a bad thing. Many students will be happy to simply participate on an instrument that is accessible for them. However, if this is an issue, you could always divide the class into two or more groups - (1) recorder, (2) kazoo (3) classroom percussion. The children who are unable to play recorder could always be assigned to one of the other two groups. Everybody wins!

Kazoo Storage

Incorporating kazoo is not without challenges. They are small and easy to lose, so I keep our class sets of kazoos in my classroom. My classes have less than ten children, and shelf space is not an issue for me. Housing kazoos may or may not be an option for you. If not, perhaps the kazoo can "live" with the recorder and be incorporated into whatever routine you have established for that instrument.

Health Tip: If all kazoos for a particular group are held in one bin, you may want to consider giving each one a quick wipe with an alcohol swab before giving it to the student to play. 

Once again, I'd like to thank you for reading and watching my blog post. Don't forget to Follow Me on TpT for new songs for every occasion and regular freebies!


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