A xylophone is a device built entirely out of the artificial sweetener Xylitol™. Its popularity is as virtually the only word most people encounter in their lives that begins with X. And its popularity is almost entirely with Scrabble® players. (The word "X-ray" has a hyphen, which disqualifies it for these folks.) You can make a lot of points by playing
xylophone; though because of the limited size of your tile rack, your opponent usually has to play
phone first and set you up.
Uses for a xylophone
What you can't do with a xylophone is make a lot of music. You can only play one note at a time, because doing so takes one entire hand,unless you are of course,one of those lucky people who can hold four mallets at once. You can play a second note at the same time during those rare moments when the other hand is not flipping the pages of your sheet music or jumping to play the next part.
Consequently, most sightings of a xylophone as a musical instrument are in marching bands at halftime of a high-school football game. The audience there does not care that any individual member is not playing notes, or whether any individual member is on key. The pageantry is just so apropos. The xylophone is huge - it is hard to lug around so you might be seeing a few football players rolling the xylophone across the field while this cool guy plays it.
The other uses of a xylophone are independent of its ability to sometimes play notes:
Uses of the assembled unit
A xylophone makes a fine racer, provided there is a hill nearby that is so steep as not to require that the vehicle have wheels. Remove the keys, put the family pet inside, and send Fido "off to the races."
If Fido survives the match, the individual keys will serve as gnaw sticks to reward him for his participation.
Uses of the wood
As xylo- means wood, in traditional xylophones, the keys are made of wood, and the musical note results from wood striking wood. It is a sound mostly appealing to fans of bowling; and if you consider bowling a sport, you'll consider what a xylophone does music.
The best use of the keys of a wood xylophone are as dominoes. Except that each one is a different size. If xylophone keys are upside-down and it is your turn to draw one, therefore, there isn't much suspense and what you do can hardly be called cheating.
By drilling two holes in a key, it makes a fine candle-holder.
Wood, of course, is a handy building material. You will find that one of the keys is a perfect patch for whatever-sized hole there is in the side of your house (or trailer, most likely).
Wood can also be burned for heat. Note that you should only do this if you have not used it as a building patch; otherwise, you will get rather more heat than you bargained for.
Uses of aluminum
In modern xylophones, the keys are drop-forged out of aluminum. They make a louder noise, and it is more metallic, and the kids are into metal these days.
The keys can be detached from the xylophone and connected with guy-wire or fishing line, to make a serviceable (though bulky) wind chime.
If you have sufficient heat (for example, if you have two xylophones, the other one has wood keys (see above) and you have used it to start a big fire), you may be able to melt the aluminum down and shape it into silverware or jewelry.
The modern xylophone
Modern xylophones are also taking on post-ironic characteristics, such as the inclusion of a tape recorder in the xylophone to obviate actual musical ability. Busy modern music lovers can now indulge their much-popularized love of xylophones and xylophone paraphernalia while still pretending they can play one.