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Learning the art of the didgeridoo

The drone of the didgeridoo has been part of indigenous Australian culture throughout the entirety of its history. The low bellow of the sacred instrument is said to have spiritual elements, affecting brain activity in a positive manner. On Jan.
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Paddy O'Sullivan is teaching the community to paint and play their own didgeridoo Jan. 12. Everyone is welcome to attend the workshop, where they will learn about the historic Australian instrument. Photo by Jenny Jelen.
The drone of the didgeridoo has been part of indigenous Australian culture throughout the entirety of its history.

The low bellow of the sacred instrument is said to have spiritual elements, affecting brain activity in a positive manner.

On Jan. 12, local artist Paddy O'Sullivan is sharing the art of creating and playing the didgeridoo with the community. Students in the workshop will transform a PVC pipe into an instrument, top it off with a beeswax mouthpiece and learn about traditional paint patterns with which to decorate their creation.

“I think (participants) will gain an appreciation for the instrument,” O'Sullivan said. “They'll experience both a primitive but sophisticated instrument.”

While the traditional instruments coming from Australia are made from eucalyptus branches hollowed out by termites, O'Sullivan said any hollow tube will produce a similar sound.

By properly forming a mouthpiece on a pipe, O'Sullivan said the result is an authentic sound for a fraction of the cost. And participants can make it their own, by designing the piece themselves.

O'Sullivan said traditional didgeridoos are decorated with tribal and animal designs, but it isn't a requirement — O'Sullivan said he wants people to making something “fun and meaningful for them.”

A visual artist by trade, O'Sullivan said he'll lend his hand to those who are unsure about the artistic part of the workshop by providing tips and tricks for decorating the instruments.

“Sometimes people are intimidated by paint and brushes,” he said.

Of course, participants will also learn to play the didgeridoo — a technique which is often challenging to learn, but easy to master.

“It's kind of like riding a bike,” O'Sullivan said.

The circular breathing pattern used to play the instrument means musicians can continuously play the didgeridoo, without having to stop to catch their breath.

Everyone is welcome to take part in the workshop. For $135.60, participants will be provided with all the tools they need to make, decorate and play their own instrument.

The workshop is being held at the Jubilee Centre, thanks in part to the venue and the Sudbury Arts Council.

For more information or to sign up, phone O'Sullivan at 705-670-8850 or email paddy@paddyosullivan.com.


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