Monday, December 21, 2015

A Science Guy’s Almanac #14: Kazoos! Re: December 18, 1981

A Science Guy’s Almanac #14: Kazoos! Re: December 18, 1981

In the early 1980s, vocabulary was a big thing in my biology classes. A “Word of the Day” was displayed under the clock. Whenever the word was introduced during the period, I would announce the event with a kazoo fanfare. There was a massive 150-word vocabulary matching test at the end of the school year. But the kazoo became the focus.
Vintage Kazoo. Under the blue stopper is a piece of waxed paper. Good kazoos have a removable plug so you can replace soggy, torn waxed paper when necessary. Hum in the small end and a marvelous kazoo sound exits the big end. Dust on the blue plug is optional. My personal kazoo, now unlocatable, was metal with a removable plug.
Because of what was most likely jealousy on their part for not being part of the WOD announcements, in the fall of 1981 my Biology II class decided they wanted a Christmas Kazoo Choir.
First Kazoo Band. Preppie was the dress code that year. Notice my "Mustard Man" outfit.
First Kazoo Band – Christmas 1981

The “Bio II All-Kazoo Marching Band and Christmas Choir” was born out of what I’m sure was an attempt by my students to get out of some hard work. But, since they did work very hard in my class, and I’m always up for a performance, I okayed the idea.

One of the larger bands practicing their finale. 
For 8 or 9 years, my classes spent minutes rehearsing holiday tunes: Deck the Halls, Frosty the Snowman, and Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer.

Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer Ending. It was the same choreography every year. See below.
 Each song had choreography. While playing “he began to walk around” in Frosty, students would place one finger on the top of their heads and spin in a circle. At the ending of Rudolph, students formed a impressionistic Christmas tree.

Big ending after "We wish you a Merry Christmas." 
Click the above text to see this group performing LIVE!
 Rudolph had a soloist for the Santa part. “Santa came to say” was kazooed by the whole band. Then, in a dramatic moment, it’s difficult to describe, our soloist would step forward while the other students pointed their kazoos at her/him while the soloist played, “Rudolph with your nose so bright, won’t you guide my sleigh tonight?”

Ending "Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer." This year I wore a red shirt, scarf, and a green vest.
 The dress code for the band was a year-by-year decision. You can see that Santa hats were the most common. Most classes went red/green, but the first group chose "preppie" as their theme. I think it speaks volumes that no other bad chose to follow their lead.
Kazooing in a Science classroom. That's me in the Santa suit.

 Bottom line: We would march around campus performing our playlist for teachers who had asked us to come. We always started at the office, where we were a perennial hit. One year, a Jewish student played a Hanukkah song as a solo to “balance out the season.”

Article in the school newspaper, The Royal Page, circa 1988
The Kazoo Band made one non-holiday appearance. In the late 1980’s, my kids wanted to perform at Homecoming. Word got around. By the Homecoming night, we had more band members, including dozens of alumni, than the Marching Monarchs. Our theme was “Masters of Kazooniverse” in a tribute to He-Man, a television hero of the time. I didn’t want to embarrass our school band with a huge crowd of kazoo-ers, so we never did that again.

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  1. This was hilarious!! And the pictures of the classrooms brought back so many memories. A great post!

  2. Thanks. It was truly a wonderful time in my life. We had a great time. And, I know we were "appreciated."


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