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More Percussion
Historical Tidbits

The story of "Taps".  I don't play very well yet. Nice to play it first thing in the morning.


The following is from a web site with instrument information:
The didjeridoo is from Northern Australia and has been played by the Aborigines for about 40,000 years. It is a tree branch hollowed out by termites, stripped of its bark, and painted with traditional dream time symbols. The length of the didjeridoo helps determine the note that is played. It is played with a special technique called circular breathing and is used for healing and during sacred ceremonies.

I'm still working on the circular breathing. My didjeridoo is a PVC pipe that was painted. Beeswax makes a better mouthpiece than paraffin. Here is another web page with didjeridoo history and recording so you can hear it being played!


For everything you ever wanted to know about the jaw harp or Jew's harp, go to the Jew's Harp Guild home page!!!!!  Here is a little bit from their page on it's history... - compiled by Bill & Janet Gohring. Corrections added by Dr. Fredrick Crane

    "The Jew's Harp is a small musical instrument which is held against the teeth or lips, and plucked with the fingers. Its appearance in many cultures of the world, and ancient roots, attest to the magical essence of this simple instrument.
            "1677 One land deed of 1677 lists 100 Jew's Harps among the items given as payment for a tract of Indian land. In fact, the use of Jew's Harps as a barter item with the Indians continued till as late as 1815 and 1820.
            "17th and 18th Century Archaeological research uncovers Jew's Harps from Maine to Florida throughout the 17th and 18th centuries. More than 120 have been recovered from one site in Michigan alone. Conclusive evidence of the use of the Jew's Harp is by no means abundant, except for the fact that practically all of the Jew's Harps which have been archaeological finds have been in dis-repair, which means the tongues were broken and missing. Which says, if they were not playing them and were using them only for barter, then the tongues would not have been broken. Breakage means usage.
            "The majority of the Jew's Harps are found in rubbish heaps and down wells, obviously discarded as useless. Jew's Harps were not only present in the North American colonies, they were being used, and broken, in substantial numbers.
            "1850 Up until the 1850's, the Jew's Harp attained a remarkable prominence in the musical life of Western Europe."

I currently have an alto jaw harp (they come in any note you'd like - check Elderly Instruments or Lark in the Morning....)  and I bought one that has Snoopy's picture on the box.


I got my jug at a garage sale for $10. I thought that was alot till I saw one in a used stuff store for $20, so I guess I got a good deal....

For you serious jug can join the  Jug Band Music Society  

Recorders and fife:

I bought the recorders from school when my two oldest children were learning to play them in music class. The sopraninos were purchased for my two younger children from Elderly Instruments. The bamboo recorder was purchased at Mill Hollow Pioneer Days. The recorder may be a simple instrument to learn to play, but learning to play it well takes practice! Here is a web page to go to (I love the title!) - Recorder - Instrument of torture or instrument of music?

The fife is similar to the tin whistle but the fingering is slightly different. I found a great site about the fife in the Civil War
During the American Revolution a black fifer and drummer named Barzillai Lew served in several army regiments and played the fife at the Battle of Bunker Hill.


The Original American Kazoo Company was established in 1916 and is now the only metal kazoo factory in the world.
The Kazoo - Its appearance, history and importance for modern music - the text of a speech by Michael Fink of Denmark.

For all things Kazoo go to the:   THE KAZOOBIE HOME PAGE .  Try visiting Captain Kazooz Kazoo Museum! 

Tin Whistle:

        The tin whistle is an inexpensive but fun instrument to play. It goes well with dulcimer music. I have two of them - key of C and key of D.

            The following is from the Clarke Tin Whistle Co. Ltd. - England

            "The firm of Clarke had a very interesting beginning. In the first half of the 19th Century, a farm labourer called Robert Clarke was going through hard times. Normally his wage was only 9 shillings per week as a married man. After one very wet season when he was unable to work, he decided to try his hand at something else. 

            "With the help of the local blacksmith he made a set of tools to make a tin whistle. After he had made a few of these thin whistles, which he sold locally. he decided to go further afield. In those days the two main methods of transport were on horse or by foot. As he did not have a horse, he set off with his eldest son with the tools to make tin whistles loaded on a handcart. He eventually ended up in Manchester, having sold whistles along the way. In Manchester he started to produce whistles under the name of Robert Clarke. They type of whistle which he produced most of was small and high pitches and he called it a "Meg" which is the Lancashire name for a halfpenny. The Clarke Tin whistles which are being produced today are being made following the old traditional factory methods. However, modern materials are being introduced which, though not at all altering the quality or tone, nevertheless give better appearance and lasting finish.

            "The story of Whistling Billy...Contrary to the opinion held by almost everybody, the Penny Whistle did not derive its name from the price which was paid for it. In fact the whistle was called that because street urchins and itinerant performers used to get a penny for playing to passers-by. One of the itinerants, named Whistling Billy, managed to make a living quite successfully by playing and dancing at the same time. Apart from two short diversions into fishing; and thieving, for which he was jailed, he seems to have spent his life performing in pubs, in front of hotels and spirit-shops, in the fields at harvest-time and at the harvest suppers, where he played for others to dance, and even at concert-rooms where he was engaged professionally. Sometimes he would sell Penny Whistles. He paid 3d. a dozen for them and mostly sold them a 2d. each. although sometimes he would get as much as 6d. or 1/- each. He had a repertory of fifty tunes and was reckoned to be the best player of any man in town or country. He could make a regular 2 pounds a week, which in those days, was a considerable sum. Sometimes he would play the whistle up his nose, which he could do as easily as in his mouth, although not as loud. He did this to make his audiences laugh. The only time he could not do this was when he had a cold? He was the only Englishman who had made street whistling and dancing a profession. There were Italian boys who also danced while they were playing, but they played the flute or the hurdy-gurdy."

The Robert Clarke Story:
"In 1843, Robert Clarke a poor farm laborer left his employer after having been unjustly accused of dishonesty. He was a talented amateur musician and played a wooden whistle. He developed the idea of copying his whistle but used tinplate to do so. He made the block in the mouthpiece out of wood which he cut into shape using a homemade saw. This saw started life as one of his wife's corset stays! Then he decided to mass produce his new style of whistle. He loaded the necessary materials and his simple tools onto a handbarrow and, together with his son, walked all the way from Suffolk to Manchester. On the way he would set up his workshop barrow in market places, showing how the whistles were made and selling them. He would also play for the entertainment of the crowds that gathered round. His most popular piece was "Danny Boy". It is said that the whole busy market would stop and listen when he played this piece."

From the Whistle Shop web page


Nose flute:
                 also known as the Humanatone, noseflute, or nose-whistle. I'm sure you want one and they come in different colors! Here's a place that sells them


Picture of the little bird trio puppets  

Some songs require special friends -
Meet the little bird trio - Click on pictures to see full size....

Picture of Leonard and Mattie  

Leonard and Mattie (our dog)
having a snack by the fireplace


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Barbara F. Gregory, Columbus, Ohio

Last modified: January 19, 2014