The Legend Of The Didgeridoo

Have you ever seen a movie or t.v. program about Australia?   If you have, you’ve probably already heard a didgeridoo, a unique instrument originally created when termites hollowed out long sticks or branches they found in the outback.  The didgeridoo produces a wonderfully odd noise that sounds like a cross between a ship’s foghorn and an elephant lost in the jungle.  If you have a long tube from giftwrap or a length of pvc piping, you can create a good working version of a didgeridoo to experiment with at home.

How was the didgeridoo discovered or created?  Well, here’s a story that explains it all.

A long, long time ago – so long ago it happened in dreamtime – some ancestors decided to go camping.  They went off and had a great time, but the weather turned cold at night so they built a warm, glowing campfire.  As they sat around the fire, adding more sticks for warmth, one ancestor noticed that a branch he was about to toss into the flames contained the small, white ants that many people call termites.  The ants had eaten away at the branch until it was hollow and they were still living and crawling inside.  Since the ancestor respected the ants and did not want to toss them into the fire, he pointed the stick toward the heavens and blew gently to remove the little creatures.  As he did, the white ants flew out of the stick and up into the heavens to become the twinkling stars that we see in the night sky today!

And, to everyone’s surprise, the stick made the most wonderful, unique, incredible noise.  It was the sound of the first didgeridoo!   And that is the story of how one ancestor’s respect for all living creatures led to this wonderful musical instrument discovery.

Would you like to hear a didg, color a didg or make your own version and learn to play it at home?  Check out the links below.




DIDGERIDOO COLORING PAGE (print-out version)




She Made a Homemade Mbira

Two actual kalimba/mbiras from DARIA's live music shows.

Leah from the Almost Unschoolers blog decided to take on the project of creating a homemade mbira (kalimba) while studying Kenya with her kids.  A complete list of supplies and tools she used for this craft are listed below plus a link to her inventive and creative blog.

homemade mbira - getting started with the basic materials

Leah started with a block of wood and added two popsicle sticks to it with hot glue.  This would create an area where the bobby pins would be higher then the wood block so they could be plucked.

After cutting the bobby pins in half, she shortened each one just a bit.  By doing this, the variation in length would create a slightly different sound for each “tine” or bobby pin when plucked.  Leah used four bobby pins here but you can experiment with any number of bobby pin “tines”.

bobby pin tines are hot glued in place

Then she taped the bobby pins in place in the order she wanted and hot glued two more popsicle sticks on top.  She tightened the sticks by adding pushpins.  Finally, she bent the bobby pins up to about a 45 degree angle.   At that point, the little instrument was ready to play.

Her kids jumped right in and began to pluck and play.  Although, it didn’t sound exactly like the kalimbas or mbiras they had checked out in sound clips on the internet, it still was a good working instrument that was fun to explore.  It also was a great experiment in encouraging kids to think about how instruments were invented or improved using only the simplest of materials.

Leah's homemade mbira - ready to play

What did the homemade mbira pictured here sound like?  Leah’s one son thought it sounded like a “dying grasshopper”.  You can hear a sound clip for yourself if you check out her complete post:


A block or piece of wood
Four popsicle sticks
Bobby pins
Hot glue gun/craft glue
scotch tape
wire cutters
safety glasses (for use while cutting bobby pins)