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  • Writer's pictureJenny Ferris

Dhungala Choral Connection

One of the things I love about the Kodaly philosophy is the way it introduces students to so many different cultures through song. As an Australian music teacher, part of my curriculum includes introducing students to the music and culture of Indigenous Australians.

As a non-Indigenous Australian myself, I have to admit I felt a little under-prepared. I didn't know many songs or anything much about my local language groups. I knew just enough to know that there are a number of songs which are only to be performed by certain people in certain contexts, but not enough to know which songs were ok for me to teach!

Deborah Cheetham and Jessica Hitchcock came up with a wonderful resource for this exact situation in the form of the Dhungala Choral Connection Song Book.

Dhungala Choral Connecction Song Book

Through the Short Black Opera program for children, these two travelled around Australia, visiting various Indigenous communities around Australia and working with groups of children to compose songs using a mix of English and local Aboriginal languages.

The book provides a fantastic overview of their journey and details the different communities and language groups represented, along with translation guides and beautiful recordings of the works being performed.

There are both piano and vocal parts included and this book is an important resource in the preservation of Aboriginal languages and culture. I had the pleasure of being involved in a number of workshops in January run by Short Black Opera as part of the Melbourne Youth Orchestras Summer School and the songs were moving, engaging and most of all achievable (even for non-choral students at the summer school who'd never sung before!)

I highly recommend this book as a go-to resource for Aboriginal language songs and choral repertoire in general.

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