Musical Ambition…

kazoobook.jpegMy daughter (age 6) informed me today that she has quit playing the recorder. It’s too much work. Her new instrument of choice is the Kazoo. How ironic that she’s following in her daddy’s ambitious footsteps.

In my freshman year of college, I organized the Wheaton College Kazoo Choir. It started as a joke… but my dorm-mates caught the spirit. I bought 40 kazoos, complete with extra reeds. The reeds were little, flat, cardboard rings as big as a dime. The middle of the ring had a thin, waxy membrane. When your kazoo malfunctions, it’s usually because of a ruptured membrane. The manufacturer was so impressed when I wrote him about our college kazoo choir, he sent me a whole box of extra reeds. Wow, huh?

kazoo.jpegWe had our one and only impromptu concert during a Wheaton College basketball game. Probably 30 guys from my dorm. My suitemate, Doug, was the conductor. That’s because he showed up in a tux with tails… complete with fake medals and medallions… and a baton. That made him conductor. Doug made the grandest of entrances, to howls of delight and the gratitude of our fellow students.

At times both appropriate and inappropriate, we burst into 4 part kazoo harmony–with the occasional atonality and dissonance required to make music interesting. Our focus was our fellow floor-mate from Fischer Hall 3-E, basketball star Clyde G., who was totally cool, and our friend.

il_wheaton.jpgBy all accounts, our kazoo choir was a monumental success. The basketball fans dug us, I’m sure. They respected us so much they began moving to other seats, giving us the respectfully wide berth our talents so richly deserved.

Good times. What a flood of memories!

Cost of a good kazoo: fifty cents.

Knowing that my daughter shares my lofty kazoo ambitions: Priceless.


Oh… I almost forgot. I’ve always thought I was a ukulele virtuoso. Until somebody sent me the link for this guy… After I watched this, I was humbled right back into my hovel of musical mediocrity, exactly where I belong.


16 thoughts on “Musical Ambition…

  1. Wow!! I just can’t imagine all the talent out there today!! Sure is a far cry from playing the ukulele on a beach somewhere….May I join you in the mediocrity hovel??

    Actually, I don’t think I could play the kazoo very well either…

    Of course, I wonder what the Uke player does for his day job??

  2. Jean,

    I think his day job is… playing the ukulele. He’s a minor deity in Hawaii, I think. Albums and concerts. I know I’d go see a concert. I never knew a uke could sound so beautiful.

    His name is JAKE SHIMABUKURO and if you search for him, you will find him, if you search for him with all your google.


  3. This made me laugh out loud. I didn’t even know that kazoo’s could make different notes, let alone sustain a 4-part harmony and appeal to such a wide audience. Go J! The sky’s the limit, babe!

    Also, Wayne’s roommate Bryan just bought a ukulele and he is not too bad. We bought it at a really cool music store that sells all the geeked-out instruments a person could ever want. I really want a tongue drum, I’ll let you guess what that might be like. It’s pretty awesome.

  4. Yikes! Jake DOES play a ukulele on a beach somewhere!!

    AND, I will search for him with all my google. I’d love to have some of his CDs. He’s fabulous!

    Thanks for sharing this gem of a find with us!

    A tongue-drum……? Gotta know what that is!

  5. There’s a kazoo band out there, and they do some very nice versions of some old Led Zepplin songs…amazing stuff…really. You’d be inspired. I can’t recall their name but they do ‘whole lotta love’ and it’s amazing.

  6. Hey Amy: Those tongue drums look totally fascinating! You go girl! And enjoy. (I couldn’t find out just how much they were though. You know?)

    And, I actually thought they might be played by the tongue……duh!!!!

  7. Hahaha. Thanks Jean!

    The tongue drums I saw were between $60 and $100, depending on how many notes they offered, and how rich a sound they made. The sound they make is kind of exactly the sound you have always hoped for when you blow across the top of a glass bottle, except you get many notes.

    It looks like a hollow box with intricate cuttings all over the top. At least the ones I saw. You hit it with rubber mallets. I was totally infatuated. 🙂

  8. Bill – thanks for stopping by my blog tonight… I know you have a lot of blogs to visit – so in case it doesn’t happen again soon, I wanted to let you know: God used your sermons on Esther earlier this year in the process of freeing me to embrace this (‘committee in my head’) concept (which hasn’t been a common theme in sermons I’ve heard through the years). Especially the part about, “Who made Esther intimidated?… Was it the king?… Was it Haman…? No – it was Esther.”

    By His grace, I’m learning to take responsibility for my choices, believe the riches and oneness I have in being united with Christ, and give the ‘ring of power’ to its rightful owner. Thanks for committing your life to serving Jesus; He’s using your ministry to change lives up close and from a distance.

  9. Amy: I did follow Dr. G’s advice and searched for tongue drums with all my google. I found Steve Roberts, from Chico, CA no less. His drums look so beautiful I don’t think I’d care if they sounded OK or not. But, he “tunes” them to different keys and sounds. Wonderful!! I want one too!! Maybe some day I’ll even learn how to “drum” it!!

    I LOVE this blog!! Who’d ever think I’d learn of a strumming dynamite on a ukulele or a drum one doesn’t beat with his tongue??? I’m getting so smart!

  10. Thank you for a little bit of sunshine into my day! Stuck in the airport (3 hours down…2 hours to go… if THE MAN is to be believed….) Nothing makes you smile like free wi-fi and a ukelele virtuoso. I’ll take the small blessings whenever and wherever.



  11. You do realize that, given your position, you are supposed to be a mature and responsible adult?

    Um, given my position, I am supposed to be likewise.

    You don’t tell on me, and I won’t tell on you.

    In high school I created the All-Kazoo-Conga-Line-Dance-Review-and Garbonzo-Bean-Giveaway-Troupe. About 15 of us would dance and kazoo our way down the street. We marched on the home of our yearbook advisor and when she answered, we just conga lined through her house and out the back door, but not before we each handed her a can of garbonzo beans. We left before she could phone the authorities.

  12. That was beautiful!! Bill, I’d like to hear you play your ukulele sometime, Do you think you could be part of the worship team sometime? 🙂 No really!!

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