Learn How to Play the Didgeridoo

Aboriginal Arts Ltd offers an experienced London based didgeridoo player & teacher who can help you learn the basic sounds of a didgeridoo, teach you how to master circular breathing and help you develop and play more complex rhythms. Bear Love is highly recommended for his friendly and flexible approach, which will encourage you to play the didgeridoo like a professional in no time! Students are taught on a one-to-one basis at Aboriginal Arts Ltd in east London though Bear can travel to teach didgeridoo in other parts of London and the south east of England with prior arrangement of expenses. Additionally, Bear and other didgeridoo players can be booked to travel further afield to accomodate larger didgeridoo groups and events around the UK.


Lesson 1
- beginning

You don't require any musical ability or musical knowledge to play the didgeridoo.

Take a few moments to be in a comfortable position for playing, most people find sitting down is quite relaxing and be mindful to keep a fairly straight back so that your diaphragm is not too bunched up. Aim to play on a hard reflective surface and facing a wall so that you have the very best opportunity to hear what you're playing. Being able to hear is vital as you can't recreate a sound that you have not heard!

and, relax...

Children are exceptionally quick at learning to play the didgeridoo, try and approach the instrument as a fun game, and like a child, enjoy the crazy funny sounds that you will hear when you first begin to play!

The basic drone is made by breathing out somewhat forcefully through a closed mouth so that your lips vibrate. The resulting sound is very similar to that of a child making a horse impression or the sound of someone blowing a raspberry. You may notice that your bottom lip is extended out a little further than the top lip, and your lips are relaxed. When you are ready try the 'horse impression' down your didgeridoo or yidaki. Remember to get a good seal between your mouth and the didgeridoo mouthpiece.

The position of your mouth on the didgeridoo can be somewhat of a personal preference however, we feel you'll play much better face on rather than slightly off centre
.

Aim for a nice bright drone and experiment with subtle lip pressure changes, and try gently pulling your cheeks back with the hint of a smile. This should create a good drone sound. If the sound is a bit woolly then your lips are likely to be too loose and too much air is passing through. If your sound resembles a trumpet toot then your lips are probably too tight. Listen to your drone and make subtle changes. Try to be economical with the air escaping through your vibrating lips and see how long you can achieve a nice drone with one breath.
Don't try to hard, drink water when your mouth goes dry and remember to relax!




How to Play Didgeridoo


Lesson 2 - embellishing the drone

Now you have been practicing and you can achieve a nice consistent drone sound on your didgeridoo, you can introduce your voice to embellish the sound. The following is a wonderful way to get to know your didgeridoo, begin with a drone then sing a vowel like the 'OO' sound and sing from low to high and then back down to low. You may notice when you do this that at certain points along the 'oo' path there was an augmentation of sound, this was when you matched the frequency of your didgeridoo / yidaki with your voice. Please don't strain your vocal chords. With practice and by careful listening, you can remember your specific voice note which you can then incorporate in to your didgeridoo rhythms.

You can punctuate a rhythm in to your drone by bringing your tongue forward so that it stops the drone and quickly taking the tongue backward so that the lips can vibrate again. Actually, this is much simpler if you make the sound DE, DE, or TE, TE, or TA, TA. Your tongue will simply follow the sound you are making. Okay, now try double tonguing which is making a ka sound as the tongue is brought back after the initial TA (or DE, TE) e.g. TA KA, TA KA, TA KA.

Try rolling your r's whilst droning 'RRRRRRRRRRR'

Whilst droning, try rolling your r's and using your voice down the didgeridoo as well! RRRRRRRRRRRRR

A rhythm is simply a repetition of a phrase, experiment by saying 'DIDGERIDOO, DIDGERIDOO' down your instrument!

Then try saying all your favourite phrases and tunes down your didgeridoo!

Well done!




How to Play Didgeridoo


Lesson 3 - circular breathing

Now that you have progressed to making some really interesting sounds we can explore Circular Breathing on your didgeridoo.

Circular breathing enables the didgeridoo player to maintain a drone for up to many hours and it is not difficult to learn once demystified and broken down in to small steps. If you find a step difficult just go back to the previous one, and if necessary to the one before that.

1


Put some water in your mouth and breath in and out through your nose (this helps your mind get the idea that your nose can breath whilst your mouth is occupied with another task).
2
Eject the water from your mouth in a focused stream.
3
Eject the water from your mouth in a focused stream and breath in through your nose

4

 

Puff up your cheeks (without water), and with slightly floppy lips make the drone sound as your cheeks collapse.
(Aim to recreate the drone sound you normally make when you use your lungs, you will notice that as your cheeks have a smaller volume than your lungs, a slightly tighter lip pressure is required to make your drone sound).

5



Place your mouth to your didgeridoo / yidaki and make the drone sound with your cheeks and sniff in through your nose.
(Try to activate the sniff as soon as you begin to make the drone with your cheeks, and remember you only need a short sniff of air)

6


Try to extend your cheek drone for as long as possible to give yourself plenty of time to take a quick sniff. Your awareness should be on your vibrating lips and after you have sniffed in some air you simply blow from your lungs through your vibrating lips!

That is pretty much the process for learning how to circular breath, remember to relax and don't be hard on yourself. Check your body for tension, relax and drop your shoulders, check your hands have not turned white gripping your didgeridoo; try holding your didj with just three or four fingers of one hand. It can also be useful to engage the mind with another task as you practice circular breathing so that it doesn't get in the way. Some people find that watching the television whilst practicing can be a good distraction. However, you may suddenly become aware of yourself circular breathing causing it to stop as the mind re-engages with the moment. Do not worry, once you have managed to circular breath it will not take too long before you're doing it all the time, with more practice the gaps will get shorter and then you'll be doing it effortlessly.

Good luck!




How to Play Didgeridoo


Lesson 4 - rhythms

As you learned in lesson 2, a rhythm is merely a repetition of a phrase and you might like to try the rhythm below, which integrates your circular breathing in to the rhythm itself.

OOM AH DI-DI, OOM AH DI-DI

OOM AH - is taking a circular breath (with just a little emphasis between the cheek drone and the blowing again from your lungs)
DI-DI - is merely having your tongue say 'DI-DI,' and the cycle repeates itself as you again take another circular breath (OOM AH)

Once you have this didgeridoo rhythm, try variations of the rhythm between the breaths, perhaps by saying 'DI-DI' with a very high voice, or by articulating 'TA-KA' (lesson 2) instead of 'DIDI' - OOM AH TA-KA,

As you can see, there are many, many variations of the initial phrase, very much like a sketch which you can fill in, time and time again, and embellish with whatever colours and expressions come up for you! Try to avoid going to fast in the begining and focus on your timing, you'll then find it easy to go fast later on, have fun!




How to Play Didgeridoo


Lesson 5 - diaphragm, jaw, cheeks, toots

Here's some additional ways to make more great sounds down your didgeridoo.

Your diaphragm is like an amplifier and can be used to accentuate voice and to give bass effects during a rhythm.

To feel and hear your diaphragm in action start with a plain drone down your didgeridoo and then make a slow laugh like HA HA HA. You'll notice that your stomach will push out as you squeeze your diaphragm. Now experience the effects of exercising your diaphragm whilst humming an OO sound during the drone. This can have the interesting effect of both raising the volume and creating a higher note as a the air is pressured whilst squeezing through the same apperture of your throat. You might also like to try saying 'de, de' or 'te, ta,' as in lesson 2 and then bring in your diaphragm to coincide with your tongue action DE, DE, DE, DUF, DUF, DUF,

For those interested in fast rhythms, you can use your jaw in quick subtle up and down motions so as to create pulse sounds down your didgeridoo, your jaw is moving somewhat similar to a chewing motion, try it and see which specific motion works best for you!

You can also create interesting rhythms by squeezing or pulsing your cheeks, and creating even faster and more complex rhythms by alternating between pulsing your cheeks, the 'jawing' motion and pulsing your diaphragm!

The toot - You may have already experienced the sound of the toot when you first began to play when you might have encountered a trumpeting sound because your lips were too tight making the drone. There are two ways of tooting, western style with lots of pressure or traditional style with a very soft breath. When musicians play didgeridoo with a western style, the pressure is constantly going up and down as the cheeks blow in and out and during a western toot your cheeks will be expanded. With a traditional style of playing your cheeks will be flat as pressure is mainatained with the diaphragm (and where a relaxation of the diaphram draws in the circular breath).
The resulting toot sounds are quite different:
click here for western style toot
click here for traditional style toot

With a western style toot, more energy is expanded as more pressure is required. To create a traditional style toot you will need to blow very softly, your top lip will gently roll slightly forward and over your bottom lip. The advantage of a traditional style toot is that not only does it sound much better but you will be able to transition between toot and drone much easier! Also you might like to try the traditional style toot as if you were spitting out a grape pip!

The soft toot will be the lowest sounding toot on your instrument and your should be able to reach higher toots by using a progressively tighter lip and slightly more pressure.




How to Play Didgeridoo


Lesson 6 - more on sounds

The following sound was made purely with my voice on top of the drone sound, no special effects were used!

I call it my Tibetan drone when I growl a deep Tibetan style chant down the didgeridoo.

This is just an example of the wide variety of sounds which you can make, remember that within you is a gift, your gift is the ability to play like no other, and when you find that magic deep within yourself and express your music, you give yourself the greatest gift of all!

If you would like private one-to-one lessons at £25 per hour please contact us.








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