Make your own Kazoos and Flazoots
by John Bertles  

 

Some wind instruments use a vibrating membrane (something like a piece of wax paper, for example) to help make sounds. These instruments are called mirlitons. The kazoo is a perfect example. Let's experiment with kazoos before building a mirliton flute that we call the Flazoot, or Balloon Flute.
Make Your Own Kazoo!

You will need:
  • a plastic comb
one or more of the following:
  • a sheet of paper
  • wax paper
  • plastic shopping bag
  • plastic wrap
Put the comb to your lips and stretch your material across the other side. Hum a little tune into the comb. The material will vibrate along with your voice (this is called sympathetic vibration). Try one or two of the other materials to see if there is any change in sound.
Make Your Own Flazoot!

You will need:
  • two balloons
  • two rubber bands
  • a cardboard tube about 4" long and 1" wide, with walls around 1/8" thick
Get an adult to help you drill a hole halfway down the tube. You don't really need a drill. Just use one scissor blade to make a small hole. You can enlarge it by then drilling with closed scissors. The hole should be about 1/2" wide. Trim off the excess cardboard carefully until you have a nice neat hole.
Cut the necks off the two balloons and stretch one over one end of the tube. Secure it in place with the rubber band. Repeat the process for the other side of the tube. Make sure the balloons are stretched nice and tight.
Put your lips up to the hole and gently blow across it. If you don't get a sound right away, you might want to practice with an empty soda bottle. Once you have got the sound with a bottle, then go back and try your Flazoot. When you have a steady sound, gently push on the rubber walls. As you push, the pitch should get higher. Also try pushing one side at a time, or with different amounts of pressure on each side. You will soon discover that you are Flazootling away!