This week we were asked to deliver a Didgeridoo activity! This is something we have not been asked for in some time so it was a pleasure to reconnect with our world-class expert who travels the world performing, and also leading classes on, this amazing and most ancient instrument.
The team building event saw us receive multiple small groups throughout the day to quickly impart the basic blowing and sound techniques required to start everyone off as novice ‘Didge’ players. An added incentive for everyone to focus and learn the necessary skills was that everyone got to take home their chosen Didgeridoo!
We really believe in team activities that are not only entertaining and challenging but that also have a fascinating tribal history. The iconic Didgeridoo, just like drumming and Haka, brings participants into direct contact with our past human development. In the event, participants got to hear a range of interesting facts about the instrument while simultaneously making all manner of strange sounds!
The sessions were informative but also full of hilarious moments. Colleagues got to witness success and failure, sometimes within the same breath, as well as sharing tips or lending a helping hand. On the journey to attaining that wonderful low reverberating sound so instantly familiar with the Didgeridoo, most participants produced all types of squeaks, squawks and raspberries! This was not only funny to themselves, but extremely funny to their nearby colleagues.
Before long and with a little perseverance, our teams had the room booming with sound, and then were taught further sounds and effects to add variation and to explore their own creativity. This is what makes playing the Didgeridoo so appealing. You don’t need any previous musical ability or hand-to-hand coordination. Just a little personal determination will deliver instant results. With that as a simple working metaphor, we said goodbye to each group. There were smiles all round and very happy teams leaving clutching their new instruments.
I asked Jonny our resident expert, to tell us more about his passion and extensive work.
Q: Jonny, what first attracted you to playing this instrument?
I found the sound very intriguing. It seemed very ancient and full of meaning. I also discovered that the Didgeridoo is pretty accessible, with no prior knowledge of music required.
Q: Can you briefly tell its history?
The Didgeridoo is thought to be thousands of years old (as much as 10,000) and comes form a culture with an unbroken history of 40,000 years – the Australian Aborigines or Yolgnu people. The Didgeridoo can be used for fun and making music but is ultimately a sacred spiritual instruments used in special ceremonies. Women ARE allowed to play, despite some reports in Western press.
Q: Are there are health benefits to playing the Didgeridoo?
The Didgeridoo has proved itself capable of providing many health benefits, including: relaxation and de-stressing, improved cardio-vascular fitness and lung capacity, reduction of severity of symptoms in asthma, snoring and sleep apnea, improved facial muscle tone and improved sinuses and nasal passages.
Q: What do you think individuals get out of learning together in these sessions?
I think Didgeridoo playing is a great leveller. Everyone starts with the same experience level (usually zero!) but can quickly attain basic skills and feel that they are producing musical sounds. Anyone shy of making these crazy sounds by themselves can ‘hide’ within the group but, equally, natural performers get opportunities to show off their new skills also. Most importantly, participants get an opportunity to play an instrument with great cultural heritage that may just awaken latent musical skills or provide an opportunity to escape from life’s many stresses.
This is a unique and fun activity but it is also very easy to organise and almost any size group can be catered for. No special space is needed and it takes only one artist to facilitate a session. Didgeridoos can be played sitting or standing and require no extra space at all.
We work with a fair-trade company that supplies us with great quality give-away instruments at a fantastic cost. By taking a Didgeridoo home as conference gift, each participant has the opportunity of furthering their skills for years to come but it is also a superb reminder of your event and its messages.
So just like learning the Didgeridoo, take a deep breath, purse you lips and get in touch! Please contact us.
Pages you may be interested in: