NEW YORK – Members of a 1980s funk and disco group hit a sour note in their attempt to break the world record for the largest kazoo ensemble, falling short of the some 2,600 impromptu musicians needed.
Organizers were hoping to sign up 3,000 impromptu players for the evening attempt in Harlem, which was led by the female vocalists of Skyy. Their 1980 song “Skyyzoo” featured the sound of kazoos being played for some gentle backup.
That backup still managed to get louder Thursday, with more than 2,000 amateur musicians turning out for the concert.
“I don’t know anything about it,” said Cecilia Malone, standing among a crowd of spectators and looking at the plastic kazoo in puzzlement. “Which side do you blow on? Do you know?”
The current kazoo record was set this past New Year’s Eve in Rochester, where 2,600 kazooers gathered to play shortly before midnight. Before that, The Quincy Park Band had held the record for gathering 1,791 players in Quincy, Ill., in 2004.
With some instruction from a professional kazooist – Barbara Stewart, author of “The Complete How To Kazoo” and member of the group Kazoophony – the Harlem kazooers’ toneless buzzing soon transformed into lively tooting.
Stewart, who says she’s leading a campaign to name the kazoo America’s national instrument, declared the crowd members “proficient” players after the lesson, in accordance with Guinness World Records requirements.
With even utter amateurs able to toot one with little instruction, the kazoo has been a classic American instrument since it was invented in the 1840s. The Original American Kazoo Co., established in 1916, still produces the toy players and maintains a museum in the northwest New York community of Eden.