Looking after your new instrument
A dij is made from a tree, and trees like water. You can dampen the inside of the dij to help the sound. Never leave it in the sun to crack.
The best way to store your dij is on a stand, not against the wall because the wax will stick it to the wall. A stand is very simple to make, take a square of wood and fix a piece of dowel in the middle, then sit your dij over the dowel.
The didgeridu is an ancient “drone” instruments, used for millennia by Aboriginal people to carry traditional songs .
Micky Hall: “We play with remembrance for the old people, we play on special days. Sometimes when people die we have sorry day singing corroboree in the camp. A bambu is not used to celebrate marriage, it is more used for opening days and also played for fun. You must practice. Kids can play dij but women shouldn’t because they get pregnant. No young girls are allowed to play because they get pregnant too fast. In the olden days they danced with it a lot, we still do that, it is the spiritual side of it”.
Breathing has been used as a healing art for thousands of years. Meditation uses certain types of breathing to relax and re-energize the body. Playing a dij has the same effect on your wellbeing. The vibrations of the didgeridu are said to stimulate the chakras, which are the energy points in the body. It is the vibration of these points that help you really enjoy the instrument, whether you play it or are listening. Sound therapists use the sounds of the didgeridu for healing. So not only is it great fun, it also increases your lung capacity and your mental and physical well being.
- Relax, relax relax. The more relaxed you are the more likely you are to make a sound.
- Stand or sit with the mouthpiece at the height of your mouth. If you curl your body over the instrument you close off your lungs and cannot breathe properly and the sounds you make will be thin.
- The dij is a sound box that amplifies the sounds you are making. It will not give you a good sound if you muffle the end in carpet. Sometimes, when you are learning it is useful to play in a corner so the sound comes back at you and you can hear what sounds you make as you are doing different things.
- Holding your instrument. Use one or both hands, depending on the weight and how you want to play it. If you are lifting it up as you play you will need to use two hands. If you are right handed use your left hand to hold loosely near the mouthpiece and grip well with your right hand as far down the body of the instrument as you can.
- Hold your lips loosely, with your bottom lip pouted a bit as if you were going to blow a ‘raspberry’ with your cheeks puffed up, like little kids do when they are making a car noise. It takes a while to develop the muscles that you need for playing well.
- Your tongue has to help you. You put it in the front of your mouth, relax and loosen it then and flick it up and down to regulate the sound.
- Your lips don’t move, they stay close together on the wax, your tongue and your breathing do the job. You can blow out of the side of your mouth if you want to, but mostly you blow gently through lips that are close together and a little open. Keep your lips stuck on the wax to make a seal and relaxed enough to vibrate.
- Circular breathing is like breathing while swimming, breathe steadily in through your nose and out through your mouth. It is much easier to play if you try to keep your lungs half full, that way you don’t run out of air.