Day 25: Play A Didgeridoo

Ok, loonng story short, the lobster is coming Sunday. I just want to get it over already (believe me!), but plans change.

So if you don’t know what this new post title even means, I don’t blame you. Not many people know how to play a didgeridoo (did- jer- eee-doo) let alone have even heard of one. A didgeridoo is a musical instrument made of eucalyptus wood that originates in Australia. My dad is a very impulsive buyer, and, after seeing someone play a didgeridoo in Australia (he was visiting my sister, Beck who studied abroad), he decided to go out and buy a didgeridoo to have for himself (not like he ever plays it much:). So we’ve had this long, wooden instrument sitting in our music room for years and I had yet to pick it up and play it- or try to play it, I should say- until today.

First off, here are some amazingly talented didgeridoo players. Take a listen and be inspired:

This one is the traditional way to play the didgeridoo, done by Australian Aboriginals.

This one is a more modern take on playing the didgeridoo done by a guy beat-boxing or ‘dub-stepping’, if you will.

And this one is my favorite! It is a slight mix of both, accompanied by percussion.

Now that you’ve listened to those, I can honestly and un-ashamedly tell you that my didgeridoo playing sounded nothing like any of those. Not even close.

This is the practice didgeridoo

My sister, Beck, was the one who gave me lessons on the basics. Talk about feeling inadequate- before I even got to the actual didgeridoo, I had to practice on a practice didgeridoo. But before I could even try the practice didgeridoo, I had to practice without an instrument. I was then told to neigh like a horse. Literally. So there I was, sitting on the living room couch, giving my best horse impression, lips flapping and all (and yes, I was also told specifically that I should “flap my lips”). I felt like Melanie Lynskey in Ever After sans the horse get-up. Not my proudest moment.

After a few minutes of this spit-spraying exercise, I finally graduated to the practice Didgeridoo. I struggled with this one for a while, pausing every few minutes so I wouldn’t pass out from all the long exhaling. That and the fact that my nose was so itchy from the tickling vibrations and my lips tingling from all the flapping. But no big deal. I was ready to take on the real deal.

I tried not to think of the dampness inside the mouth opening due to my sister’s previous playing (spit! spit! spit!)- but I didn’t succeed. I just took one looong inhale, put my mouth on the instrument and neighed. Surprisingly, it didn’t sound half bad. I actually think the real one was easier. Then again, this might have something to do with the fact that I had already been practiced from the practice one. Oh well, what matters is that the sound coming out of the tree was starting to resemble actual music and not just spit coming out of a mouth. I was making progress!

It was so long, it was easier to play it sitting down! Which, come to think of it, is probably why you always see the guys playing it, sitting down!

One problem I kept running into was that I always ran out of breath! Who woulda thought, right? Not me. Actually, real didgeridoo players learn to breath using circular breathing. This means that the same time they are breathing out of their mouth, they are also breathing in through their nose. So they never run out of air to exhale, allowing them to keep playing the didgeridoo for long periods of time without having to pause the sound. This is much harder to learn than you’d think!

By the time I finished my practice, I could actually make the proper didgeridoo sound! It was beautiful. In fact, you can hear the beauty yourself, right here. And no laughing.

This accomplishment was definitely worth the red ring I wore around my mouth for minutes after my lesson. Unlike most of my other blog moments, this one just might be worth repeating. I think I might become a concert didgeridoo-ist.

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2 Comments on “Day 25: Play A Didgeridoo”

  1. Nell Ruch Says:

    Sarah, I couldn’t get the one at the end – of YOU?

    I’d never heard one of these before, let alone try to play it….. much fun. Sounds like a challenge. I think maybe one could be somewhat tone deaf and still play that, if they could muster up some rhythm.

    Love, Nell

    • Sarah Sullivan Says:

      Nell, I wasn’t able to upload the video on the post for some reason, so I uploaded it to facebook and created the hyperlink. If you go to my videos on facebook you should be able to see it


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