Indigenous music

26 May 2011 – National Sorry Day

May 25, 2011

For Sorry Day (26 May 2011) or for Reconciliation Week (27 May – 3 June 2011) listen to Black Arm Band’s music on YouTube ( and discuss the band’s motivation for performing (read on). Listen to Gurrumul Yunupingu’s soulful music (eg. Wiyathul) while doing written work ( lets you listen for free).

Black Arm Band has just been asked to perform at the London Olympics in 2012

The aim of Black Arm Band ( is: “It is a creative meeting place for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal artists and producers to develop, perform, promote and celebrate contemporary Australian Indigenous music as a symbol of resilience and hope in the spirit and action of reconciliation.”


A Great Landscape DVD – worksheet

May 28, 2011

“A Great Landscape” was a 2008 DVD created by and is available via Click View. It discusses Indigenous self-expression through music, focussing on a Hip Hop band.

If you want to show this 36 min video to your class for Reconciliation Week (or any other week), here are some possible questions:

Name a famous Indigenous Australian band – “Yothu   __________________________ ”
Name a famous Indigenous Australian Hip Hop band?    ________________ and the Young ___________________________
Do Indigenous people own their land? If not, then what is the relationship between Indigenous people and the land?
How does music support Indigenous identity?
What do lyrics describe in Indigenous music?
What is empowerment?
Music and song allow indigenous people to share _________________ with a wider community and audience.
Clapping and click sticks are ___________ - phones
Didgeridoos are ____________ - phones
In the past, who was NOT allowed to play didgeridoo, according to sacred law?
Is Indigenous Australian history always written down?
What political issues do contemporary Indigenous artists address?
How can music be used as a means of protest?
What type of band was “No Fixed Address”? Reggae, Folk, Pop or Hip Hop?
When did Archie Roach come to fame, with the song “Took the Children Away”?
During the Sydney 2000 Olympics, what did “Midnight Oil” have written on their costumes? Why?
Who is Shane Howard? 
“Solid Rock” was the first Pop song to feature the didgeridoo. About what were the lyrics written?
What prevents some Indigenous artists from accessing mainstream venues (at times)?
What is CAAMA?

Aboriginal language and songs (Primary resources)

April 10, 2012

The Muurrbay Language Centre sells resources to support Indigenous language learning, which include a Song Book in Gumbaynggirr language. Gumbaynggirr land covers a large section of NSW Mid-North coast. Also for sale is Barriyala – a 3 part language work book, which includes songs from the Gumbaynggirr Song Book.

Barriyala: Let’s Work


Aboriginal songs in ABC Sing Books

April 26, 2013

HERE is a link which lists 5 Aboriginal songs, as published in ABC Sing Books.


Archie & Ruby’s indigenous DVD

January 14, 2013

Butcher Paper, Texta, Black Board and Chalk is the culmination of 15 years work of Aboriginal singer songwriter Ruby Hunter with support from her life partner Archie Roach. This stunning children’s song book is full of beautiful illustrations and an accompanying music CD and informative DVD.

Many of the songs were written through song writing and music workshops held by Ruby Hunter and Archie Roach with children from across Cape York. The songs reflect the beliefs, pride, aspirations and issues of many clan groups and Aboriginal communities, from the coastal savannahs of Kowanyama to the towering rainforests of Lockhart River, as seen through the eyes of Aboriginal children and songwriters.”


Archie Roach – quote to inspire composition

February 17, 2013

This quote is found under the CD of Archie Roach’s latest album: “Into the Bloodstream“. Read the quote to your students and ask them to write a composition or song in response.

“My recent bouts of illness I’m sure are a result of the Pain of being removed from my family at a young age and more recently the loss of someone I loved so dearly. But Pain can also bring about change in one’s life for the better. We can choose to ignore the Pain until it becomes unbearable or we can do something. You see some events in my life I will never truly get over and the Pain will always be there but I can do something about it. I can write songs, songs about making it to the Top of the Hill no matter how far, songs about not being alone so don’t cry, songs about all of us having a song to sing and songs we can dance to.”


Arts Victoria + Cultural Infusion = Extended School Residency Project

May 4, 2011

Cultural infusion together with Reservoir Views Primary School will work in partnership on a one year arts project that explores and celebrates the cultural diversity of the school community thanks to Arts Victoria.

A series of artists and artistic personnel from Cultural Infusion will work collaboratively throughout the year with students, teachers and parents at Reservoir Views Primary School in various art-forms (including physical theatre, dancing, song writing/singing, visual art, puppetry and multimedia) with the end result being a performing arts production that will feature at the school’s end of Term 3 Concert.

Components of the production will also feature alongside the work of professional artists at the 2012 Australia Day Concert that is viewed by an audience of over 10,000 people. We will keep you posted as this exciting project progresses.


Australian Art Orchestra listening room (free)

January 15, 2012

HERE is the Australian Art Orchestra’s free listening room where you can listening to recordings of their work. Many are fused with indigenous or multi-cultural music.


Central Africa – 2012 workshops available

August 8, 2011

Su Hart, an expert in the music and culture of the fascinating Baka rainforest people of Central Africa will be visiting Melbourne in late March next year and is available for workshops in primary and secondary schools.  Su has learned first hand from 20years of visiting the Baka and with their blessing has taught this music around the world and it will be wonderful to have her in Melbourne.

“Su Hart has a gift for working with youth.  It was wonderful to see our choir so completely engaged,  body, spirit and voice,  in singing the songs of a culture so far removed from their own. Su provided with an amazing opportunity to come together as a choir in joyful music making.  ”
Barbara Prowse (Director – Campbell River Children’s Choir, Canada)

Information about sessions Su might be able to do at your school is listed below. You can also find information at her web site:

Please let me know if you are interested in having Su visit your school next March, and I will put you in touch with her.

Mark O’Leary
Young Voices of Melbourne

For millennia the Baka have lived deep in the forests in Central Africa surviving through a profound awareness and understanding of their natural world. They find everything they need from the forest around them. Living in a world of natural sounds everyone grows to be good at listening and taking part in music-making. Sharing and co-operation are essential for survival. Today , with the outside world encroaching on their forest, their culture and way of life are under threat.

Su Hart, a trained teacher and singer, has visited the Baka many times since 1992 and has built her first-hand experiences into an input for schools around National curriculum guidelines.

Su has experience running independent workshops in many schools throughout UK, USA and Canada. She has worked extensively with Jenny Mosley Circle Time and Sing-up. She runs a community choir in Bath, UK and tours as a professional singer internationally with Baka Beyond.

The workshop sessions have children and teachers actively participating with confidence. Through learning about the life of the Baka they develop their own skills whilst gaining an understanding of the diversity of cultures.

The workshop is usually 1 school day in length but can be a half day or an hour assembly
Slide show and/or DVD presentation as an assembly, or whole school presentation
(approx. 1 hour with questions) exploring the context of life in the forest; how to find food & medicines, how to build houses. We will learn about myths and religion from first hand stories, illustrated with recordings and objects from the forest.Practical sessionsWhere whole school or large numbers are involved, 3 separate practical sessions can be run in the day (approx. 45-60 students per session). Each group learns different songs, games or dances so that they can perform to each other at the end of the day.Su draws on many aspects of forest music-making to develop listening skills and general musicianship:

  • clapping independent rhythms in groups
  • call and response songs and chants learned from the Baka children
  • co-operative games
  • songs with dances (simple forest costumes can be made for the dance)

The input can be anything from a 1 hour talk to a whole day.
To be arranged to suit your needs.
Talk, discussion & questions:
Su shares the story of her life with the Baka from a chance introduction through a TV documentary to becoming a lifelong friends of the tribe. By recording and marketing the Baka’s music royalties Through a growing understanding of their way of life, positive and appropriate changes, which the Baka decide for themselves, have been effected.

The talk is illustrated with slides, music, film footage and objects from the forest. Some of the issues touched will be:

  • Global Citizenship
  • Human Rights
  • Appreciation of Diversity
  • Sustainable Development
  • The Arts in Society
  • Equalities
  • How we can affect positive outcomes

Making Music Sessions
Focusing on listening and co-operation skills and exercises

  • Clapping rhythms independently of other groups
  • Call and response chants & songs with separate parts
  • Songs with movement and percussion
  • Performance skills

Chrissy’s Island Family

October 15, 2012

Christine Anu has set up “Chrissy’s Island Family” to advocate awareness of Torres Strait Island music and traditions.



June 23, 2012

Primary and Secondary students are encouraged to sing / dance / play a song, record it, and send it to Generation One. The aim is to start classroom conversations on indigenous issues and reconciliation. A free classroom kit is available on CD.


Cultural Infusion

December 28, 2010

Go to resource: Cultural Infusion co-ordinates authentic multi-cultural performances, workshops and residencies in Australian schools.


Cultural Infusion: Aboriginal Culture for a day

March 8, 2012
Aboriginal Culture for a Day is Touring in your State!
Introduce and immerse your students to one of the oldest living cultures in the world, with Cultural Infusion’s returning Indigenous artists, Alan Harris and his family, also known as Western Creation.

As members of the Noongar tribe and the Bibbulmann clan, Western Creation are one of the most inspiring Indigenous groups currently performing. Western Creation promotes reconciliation and understanding between all people in Australia.

Using many aspects of Aboriginal culture, including dance, music, song, art and history, Western Creation bring Australia’s Indigenous people into the hearts and minds of their audiences.

Program fee: $10 + gst per student, minimum
150 students Duration: 9.00am – 3.00pm approx.

Suits Primary schools – other Aboriginal concerts available for Secondary schools.

Program fee: $4.50 + gst per student, minimum
140 students Duration: 50 mins.

Regional VIC – 21 – 25 May
28 May – 1 June
4 – 8 June
SA –
18 – 22 June
– 2 – 13 July – Extended dates due to high demand!


Desert Harmony Festival 2012

December 5, 2012

The Song Room had a major role to play in The Barkly Region’s Desert Harmony Festival 2012 in the Northern Territory, with the launch of its CD and DVD, Creating Footprints:  Songs from Home.  This annual festival is organised by Barkly Regional Arts.


Didgeridoo class (Melb)

August 25, 2013

“As part of a fundraiser for a missions project (see link) I am offering Didgeridoo lessons.  Australia’s

oldest instrument.

The two lesson program will consist of learning how to play, making different calls, and finally circular


Classes will run In Endeavour Hills on Friday 30th August, 7-8pm, Friday 6th September 7 – 8pm


$50 BYO instrument.

$75 PVC instrument supplied (un painted )

Booking is required as places are limited.

Please contact Roy on 0402 019 201 (Phone calls only, no texts!) for further information.

Separate bookings can be made for your own club/group/school (subject to availability) at your

location for a fun session!!

ALL proceeds will be donated to Mission Chile fundraiser”


FaceBook page sharing student Music work

March 19, 2011

An American Music teacher shares his students’ recordings and digital music creations on a FaceBook page.

Listen to & read some of the examples for lesson ideas!


Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu – new CD

April 15, 2011

April 2011 saw the launch of Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu’s second album. Gurrumul is a spectacular, Indigenous Australian musician who was born blind, and grew up singing and playing guitar.

Lesson idea: Listen to one of Gurrumul’s tracks (all songs feature his language-of-birth, while some include English as well). Describe the tune, harmonies, vocal quality (which Stinge has described as “the sound of a higher being”), chord progressions, etc … then try to guess what the lyrics mean.


Gondwana Indigenous Choir

June 26, 2013


GrooveShark – free online music listening

May 25, 2011

A free service (blocked to many students, but usually available to teachers) whereby you can listen to and playlist thousands of songs for free, while you are online.

Download is not possible (nor would it be ethical!).

Not a complete repertoire as yet – for instance you won’t find music of the recent Royal Wedding, or anything from the “Black Arm Band”.

You WILL find many indigenous / Aboriginal artists on GrooveShark: Gurrumul Yunupingu, Archie Roach, Ruby Hunter, didgeridoo music, “Rough Guide to Australia Aboriginal Music”, Saltwater Band, Yothu Yindi …


Indigenous & Isolated Schools Music Program ACMF

March 17, 2012

Read about the way ACMF is sending musicians to work with Indigenous students in isolated schools.


Indigenous CDs

September 30, 2013

Batchelor Press issue a number of CDs and stories for Indigenous education


Indigenous fusion with AAO

January 9, 2012

THIS YouTube channel of Australian Art Orchestra shows interplay between Indigenous Australian singers and musicians from the Australian Art Orchestra. Play video/s to students and ask them to compare the treatment of melody/pitch and duration/rhythm. Which aspects are similar, different and interesting? When both groups play together, which aspects of music create unity? How is the fusion of the two groups achieved?


Indigenous music – Stiff Gins

October 13, 2012

These two YouTube clips feature the gorgeous music of the Stiff Gins, sung in Indigenous language. Yandool with Sydney Children’s Choir at TEDx


Indigenous Musicians get to POP! – workshop May 2011 (Vic)

May 3, 2011

Indigenous Musicians get to POP!

Thanks to funding received through Arts Victoria’s Community Partnerships, Cultural Infusion is proud to present I.P.O.P. (Indigenous People Out Performing). An exciting new initiative for Melbourne’s emerging Indigenous musicians there will be three sets of workshops delivered during this year focusing on exciting public outcomes.

Up and coming Indigenous musicians who are selected for the program will be given a special opportunity to explore their creative ideas and develop them into polished, recordable tracks. Participants are encouraged to make the most of the free recording sessions and performance opportunities, where they will be able to showcase their song to a wider audience. Guiding them through musical elements ranging from song writing, music production to performance skills is acclaimed Indigenous musician, Joe Geia.

Joe Geia is a renowned singer-songwriter who composed the iconic album Yil Lull from which songs have been re-recorded by the likes of Paul Kelly, Archie Roach and Jimmy Barnes. Hailing from North Queensland, Geia is of Murri Aboriginal heritage. His first album Yil Lull, released in 1988, received widespread critical acclaim and speaks volumes on our national identity.

Places in these workshop series are based on the merit of applicants. Applications are still open for the next series of workshops starting Tuesday 17th May 2011 from 6pm – 8pm. These workshops are running with the support of The Gathering Place in Maribrynong and will be delivered at the phoenix youth Centre in Footscray with the final performance being part of the Indigenous Youth Forum at The Gathering Place on the 24th June.

For more information and an application form please:


Indigenous song-writing kit

January 24, 2013

As a tribute to Ruby Hunter, Archie Roach has just released a kit about a song-writing trip to Cape York.   Butcher Paper, Texta, Black Board and Chalk The kit includes a CD of songs (written by Cape York school kids with Ruby Hunter) & a book of lyrics and art-work & a DVD documentary of the journey through Cape York (including song-writing sessions and jamming). The cross-curricular content of the DVD is brilliant – music, art, indigenous culture, creativity, etc. More info HERE.

LESSON IDEA: Play the DVD, then try song-writing with your class (about their own place, home and country) … later play the CD and encouraged students to draw pictures to go with the words (as did Ruby).


Indigenous version of Aus Anthem – Kutju Australia

July 13, 2011

This article in the Herald Sun describes the process for creating an indigenous translation for Advance Australia Fair (for NAIDOC week). Free teachers’ notes are found HERE.  A kit has also been released ($26) with advice on how to teach the song.

“This is about changing the way we teach and appreciate the language, culture and traditions of Aboriginal people,” Mr Garrett said.

A short example of the video teaching kit is found HERE along with ‘how to purchase the kit’ information.


Jessie Lloyd – indigenous songs

May 9, 2012

Listen to free samples of Jessie’s music – contemporary indigenous music.


Jimmy Little – free Indigenous resources

December 28, 2012 This website has many free songs, videos, lyrics, lesson plans and other resources to help teach primary aged children about healthy lifestyles and growing up. Surf the many free resources using the ‘Resources’ tabs. Songs are used to communicate positive messages.


Kev Carmody = national treasure

April 22, 2013


make a didgeridoo

February 15, 2011

free instructions on making a didgeridoo (didjeridu) from PVC pipe


MiCN Award 2012

December 3, 2012

HERE is the announcement for MiCN 2012 award winner – Shellie Morris.

Listen to one of her beautiful contemporary indigenous songs HERE.


Music Outback Foundation

December 2, 2009

Go to resource: The Music Outback Foundation provides music education experiences to remote Indigenous schools.

Read more…


Music Outback Foundation

December 28, 2012

View videos of the Music Outback Foundation at work in Australia’s OUTBACK.

“Through songwriting, students can engage deeply in English and first language learning activities, developing content that is meaningful to them, and supporting community desires to work in the context of local language and culture.  Music activities encourage attendance at school, and can build important partnerships between schools and their communities.  They can also provide avenues of employment for community adults with music skills.”


National Indigenous Music Awards 2013

August 19, 2013 “Song of the Year 2013″ “Film clip of the Year 2013″

Jessica Mauboy has won National Artist of the Year

More info:


new books – Instant Lessons in Music – Australian

April 2, 2011

Fresh off the printing press – Instant Lessons in Music (Vols 3, 4 & 5) – photocopiable /digital lessons designed to enhance school Music programs OR leave for Emergency teachers (without the need for musical competency) – suits 11-16 year old Music classes – written by an Australian teacher for Australian students.

Vol 3: Music in Australia

Vol 4: Everyday musicality

Vol 5: Theory, composition & song-writing


New Indigenous festival NSW Dec 2013

September 30, 2013



December 12, 2012

A new free-to-air channel “NITV” for Indigenous talent was launched tonight with a great Sunset Concert from Ayers Rock. Looking forward to it showcasing lots of indigenous music, art, drama and dance. NITV is supported by SBS.


Our home, our land: contemporary Aboriginal music education kit

December 13, 2009

Go to resource: Our home, our land was devised by Stephen Lalor, available from the Australian Music Centre. This is a teachers resource kit for secondary school students.

Read more…


Pure Drop ABC video and lessons

February 15, 2011

Pure Drop – high quality audio and video footage (free) from the ABC & AFC & Federal Government, complete with free lesson plans and worksheets. Topics include Indigenous Music and World Music


Reconcile Jukebox

July 19, 2013—music/reconcile-jukebox – currently under re-construction

“The Reconciliation Jukebox is a selection of songs provided by artists who support the reconciliation movement. These artists gave us songs to share with you because each of them feels it is one way they can participate in the reconciliation process.”


Reconciliation in the Arts

July 19, 2013

This is book is published by Macmillan for approx $24. It captures ‘reconciliation in action’ in the arts – events, people, organisations & activities associated with the Arts illustrate how reconciliation can be achieved.


Reconciliation Song-writing lesson idea for Sorry Day

March 10, 2011

A lesson idea for “National Sorry Day” … or any day.

Watch the Colli Crew’s song about reconciliation

In small groups, brainstorm phrases that rhyme with “reconciliation” and “it’s up to us”

Watch the Colli Crew’s 2010 ARIA Award winning song “Change the Game”

Create a class rap, make an audio recording, and place it on the school’s website.

Email a link (or a copy of the song) to

Listen to Indigenous Australian music from “Black Arm Band”, “Saltwater Band”, “Gurrumul Yunupingu” and “Archie Roach” on YouTube, iTunes, CD or GrooveShark.


Ruby Hunter lyrics (Indigenous Australian music)

January 9, 2012

Watch a tribute to Ruby Hunter HERE. Download a file of Ruby Hunter’s lyrics from HERE. Ask students to choose one song, and analyse the rhyming pattern, structure & message of one of Ruby’s songs. FYI The dominant messages in Ruby’s music are “Stolen Generation” and “Indigenous Women’s Issues”. Her CD can be bought HERE.


Song to Sing – Archie Roach

January 20, 2013 A great new song by Archie Roach about the healing power of singing and song-writing. Play the clip to your class, and have them devise 3 different movements: slow section (beginning), upbeat chorus, and gospel groove at the end. Older students might talk about the message / story behind the video clip.


Songlines – Indigenous music incursion

February 18, 2012

“Koorie Stories & Song” is an innovative and entertaining program that aims to educate and inform audiences of Indigenous Australia through the mediums of narrative and song. It creates a safe and intimate forum where listeners can further their understandings of Aboriginality and culture.

What is involved?

The session will showcase two to three musicians who discuss the background and inspirations of their material and how it integrates into modern Indigenous society. Guided by a master of ceremonies, the discussions are opened and audience members are invited to put forward any questions or queries to the performers that relate to any of the subjects presented.


Sydney Festival takes action on Reconciliation

July 19, 2013

Read the article here:


The Black Arm Band: dirtsong – Education Kit

January 22, 2010

The Black Arm Band: Dirtsong was a work performed at the 2009 Melbourne International Arts Festival. There is a free Education kit available here. The second half of the activities are specifically Music-related, while the first half are Arts and literacy-related. Read more…


The Black Arm Band: Hidden Republic – Education Kit

January 22, 2010

The Black Arm Band: Hidden Republic was a work performed at the 2008 Melbourne International Arts Festival. Read more…


The Deadlys 2011

October 1, 2011

“The Deadlys” showcase the outstanding achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and provides identifiable national and local role models to inspire all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, particularly young people.

The 2011 Deadly Awards were held on September 27, 2011 at the Sydney Opera House.  Here is the winners’ list.


The Song Room

January 21, 2010

Go to resource: The Song Room offers music programs to school students, particularly those who have no access to music teachers, and disadvantaged students. Their aim is to create self-sustaining music programs in schools. Read more…


Took the Children Away – Indigenous music and history

March 5, 2011

Archie Roach’s song “Took the Children Away” has been adopted by Canadian indigenous people, as the lyric content (Australia’s Stolen Generation) has parallels in Canadian Indian history.

Lesson plan idea: Read and discuss Archie Roach’s lyrics … watch the YouTube clip which puts Australian historical and indigenous images to “Took the Children Away” … watch the YouTube clip which puts Canadian historical images to the same song … discuss any other countries which could borrow Roach’s song to apply to their own national history.

YouTube (Australian images & the emotional trailer from the movie “Rabbit Proof Fence”)

YouTube (Canadian images)


Torres Strait Islander song with actions

February 26, 2012

Deb Smith has written up a Torres Strait song HERE along with a series of challenging actions. Suits middle school students.


winners – National Indigenous Music Awards

August 22, 2011

Gurrumul took out FIVE awards this year, at the National Indigenous Music Awards 2011!!!