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NAIDOC WEEK 2014 & THE DIDGEBREATH BOYS HEAD NORTH

Posted: Wednesday, July 23, 2014 in Uncategorized by Posted by

Wintertime in Fremantle and it is time to hit that good ol’ road north to add a few degrees to the mercury.

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Benni & Ellswood were honoured to be invited this year to teach didgeridoo up in Yamatji country in mid-west WA as a precursor to NAIDOC Week. For those outside of Australia wishing to learn more, NAIDOC stands for National Aborigines & Islanders Day Observance Committee and the week is a celebration of First Australian history & culture across the continent and it’s surrounding islands. With the world’s oldest continuing culture being found here – there is plenty to celebrate and honour!

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Discover more about NAIDOC here: http://www.naidoc.org.au

 

Rangeway Primary School in Geraldton boasts an Aboriginal student population of around 85% and the school’s music coordinator George Scicluna is a man of large plans and strong community development. One of his current quests is to empower his students by bringing the didgeridoo into the school curriculum as part of the music program known as ‘Indidgenius’. George called upon the experience of Didgeridoo Breath’s teachers to add a new level of involvement to the schools already exciting music department. With the support of the Bundiyarra Aborginal Corporation & sponsorship from Rio Tinto and Ian Blayney (Lib. Member for Gerladton) we were also able to provide several beautifully natural didgeridoos to the school that will hopefully bring joy to generations of upcoming students.

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As fun as it to work here at Didgeridoo Breath central, Benni & Elz were pumped about a journey, and the ute was packed superfast with around 40 different didgeridoos in anticipation of the circles to be held. Also needed were a few sets of clapsticks, some termite tunnel grit, and some sweet droning road music (and thankfully a spare tire – as we accidentally ran over an echidna on the drive back home and got some karmically spiked).

 

George was incredibly hospitable, putting us up at his own home (which was decked out and stood overlooking Gerladton’s mighty sand dunes!) which was fantastic because we had plenty of teaching to do. Every male (respecting local Aboriginal law) student from year 4 upwards was invited, in back to back groups to become familiar with the didgeridoo and sit with us in a sheltered circle while we spun a few yarns, practiced some new techniques, learnt how to circular breathe and have a few laughs to boot. A standout group of the older students who had been learning didgeridoo for some time prior had already mastered the breathing and many rhythms. These ‘Didgeridoo Boys’ sat proudly around the circle, assisted Benni & Elz with the students and were clearly looked upon highly by the younger mob. It was a true inspiration to see and to be able to take things further with them.

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The Indidgenius program is designed to create a sort of “didge choir” where all members of the group can play in matching keys and perform for the school & around the community with confidence. They had composed their own rhythms already and are doing great! We wish all the mob there at Rangeway Primary School the very best with their music program and hope to come see how you are doing again soon.

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A special place and moment for us was time spent at Bundiyarra, which literally means “a good place” in Wajarri (a local language).  http://bundiyarra.com.au/index.php?page=home

 

We were invited to Bundiyarra and took a good walk over the land there, crossing paths where ancient songlines converged to reveal timeless natural spring-waterholes. We held a didge circle for a local footy team, and the log wood burned all day long. Local elders came to take part in the meet up and there was plenty of good tucker put on by the beautiful women.  We were impressed by the health and the endeavours of the Bundiyarra mob and their diligent work towards maintaining language, plant medicine, bush tucker, and culture – and for holding a space where local Aboriginal people can feel safe and enhance their community.

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Overall we felt blessed to be invited and had a real blast! If you are ever up in the Midwest coastal region of Western Australia, we recommend you spend an afternoon at Bundiyarra and dig your toes into the sand there…. You may even hear the sounds of the didgeridoo echoing over the sand and stones as the mob there continue to grow stronger and stronger once more.

 

Stay in touch with our next blog when we describe how to make didgeridoos out of agave flower spikes, which are growing like naturalized wildfire all over Geraldton, and would be a perfect sustainable community project for local didge makers.

 

See you next time Gerro 😉

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Warm Vibrations

Benni, of the Didgeridoo Breath Mob