Instruments make sound through vibrations, which send waves through the air. Test this phenomenon out for yourself by making your own kazoo!
What you need
- Paper towel or toilet paper roll
- Elastic band
- Wax paper
Adult supervision may be needed when handling scissors.
- Cut a piece of wax paper that is significantly larger than the opening of your roll.
- Place the wax paper over the opening of the roll, and secure it with the elastic band.
- Carefully poke a small hole in the side of the tube using the scissors.
Sing into the open end of the roll. Make sure you don’t totally cover the end of the roll with your face.
When you sing, it pushes air through the tube. This causes the wax membrane to vibrate, sending sound waves out. These waves reach your ear and cause your eardrum to vibrate, resulting in that classic ‘kazoo’ sound!
Woodwind instruments, like the clarinet or the saxophone, use the same principle to make music. At the mouthpiece of the instrument, there is a thin piece of wood called a reed. When the musician blows into the instrument the right way, it causes the reed to vibrate and send sound waves out – just like the wax paper in the kazoo does!
In the world of music, each instrument makes a unique sound. This is because they are made of different materials – and they are different shapes and sizes. How do you think you could modify your kazoo to make different sounds? Try cutting the roll to make it shorter, using a thinner roll (like a wrapping paper roll), or making the roll thicker by wrapping its sides in plastic wrap. How do you think this might change the sound?