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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

find the 15th term of the geometric sequince whose first is 18 and last term of 387
Jerwin Reply
I know this work
The given of f(x=x-2. then what is the value of this f(3) 5f(x+1)
virgelyn Reply
hmm well what is the answer
how do they get the third part x = (32)5/4
kinnecy Reply
can someone help me with some logarithmic and exponential equations.
Jeffrey Reply
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okay, so you have 6 raised to the power of 2. what is that part of your answer
I don't understand what the A with approx sign and the boxed x mean
it think it's written 20/(X-6)^2 so it's 20 divided by X-6 squared
I'm not sure why it wrote it the other way
I got X =-6
ok. so take the square root of both sides, now you have plus or minus the square root of 20= x-6
oops. ignore that.
so you not have an equal sign anywhere in the original equation?
is it a question of log
I rally confuse this number And equations too I need exactly help
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Commplementary angles
Idrissa Reply
im all ears I need to learn
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what is a good calculator for all algebra; would a Casio fx 260 work with all algebra equations? please name the cheapest, thanks.
Kevin Reply
a perfect square v²+2v+_
Dearan Reply
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Abdirahman Reply
algebra 2 Inequalities:If equation 2 = 0 it is an open set?
Kim Reply
or infinite solutions?
The answer is neither. The function, 2 = 0 cannot exist. Hence, the function is undefined.
Embra Reply
if |A| not equal to 0 and order of A is n prove that adj (adj A = |A|
Nancy Reply
rolling four fair dice and getting an even number an all four dice
ramon Reply
Kristine 2*2*2=8
Bridget Reply
Differences Between Laspeyres and Paasche Indices
Emedobi Reply
No. 7x -4y is simplified from 4x + (3y + 3x) -7y
Mary Reply
how do you translate this in Algebraic Expressions
linda Reply
Need to simplify the expresin. 3/7 (x+y)-1/7 (x-1)=
Crystal Reply
. After 3 months on a diet, Lisa had lost 12% of her original weight. She lost 21 pounds. What was Lisa's original weight?
Chris Reply
what's the easiest and fastest way to the synthesize AgNP?
Damian Reply
types of nano material
abeetha Reply
I start with an easy one. carbon nanotubes woven into a long filament like a string
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I'm interested in nanotube
what is nanomaterials​ and their applications of sensors.
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what is nano technology
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what is system testing?
preparation of nanomaterial
Victor Reply
Yes, Nanotechnology has a very fast field of applications and their is always something new to do with it...
Himanshu Reply
good afternoon madam
what is system testing
what is the application of nanotechnology?
In this morden time nanotechnology used in many field . 1-Electronics-manufacturad IC ,RAM,MRAM,solar panel etc 2-Helth and Medical-Nanomedicine,Drug Dilivery for cancer treatment etc 3- Atomobile -MEMS, Coating on car etc. and may other field for details you can check at Google
anybody can imagine what will be happen after 100 years from now in nano tech world
after 100 year this will be not nanotechnology maybe this technology name will be change . maybe aftet 100 year . we work on electron lable practically about its properties and behaviour by the different instruments
name doesn't matter , whatever it will be change... I'm taking about effect on circumstances of the microscopic world
how hard could it be to apply nanotechnology against viral infections such HIV or Ebola?
silver nanoparticles could handle the job?
not now but maybe in future only AgNP maybe any other nanomaterials
I'm interested in Nanotube
this technology will not going on for the long time , so I'm thinking about femtotechnology 10^-15
can nanotechnology change the direction of the face of the world
Prasenjit Reply
At high concentrations (>0.01 M), the relation between absorptivity coefficient and absorbance is no longer linear. This is due to the electrostatic interactions between the quantum dots in close proximity. If the concentration of the solution is high, another effect that is seen is the scattering of light from the large number of quantum dots. This assumption only works at low concentrations of the analyte. Presence of stray light.
Ali Reply
the Beer law works very well for dilute solutions but fails for very high concentrations. why?
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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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