How to play the Didgeridoo

Basic and Advanced Techniques


Learing to Play

When you're just starting to play the Didgeridoo start with a big mouthpiece, you can do this by warming the wax and molding it with your fingers. A two finger width or 4cm diameter is good for starters. If you've ever played a brass instrument before, typically the tuba, you can use a similar technique. The key is to be extremely loose with your lips. What you'll end up having success with his keeping your cheeks and edges of your mouth stationery while having the biggest part of your lips vibrating. For practice; go back to your childhood days and blow raspberries at inanimate objects. I find I am most inspired when I pretend that they have just insulted my tickle me pink socks and I am now giving them a piece in my mind in form of a highly witty and intelligent retort. As silly as this sounds being able to blow raspberries correctly by only using the center portion of your mouth is quite an accomplishment and requires much practice. The same goes for playing the Didgeridoo. What you are aiming for is a low drone that you'll be able to feel in your chest. This is your basic note on the didgeridoo.

If you are not getting it right away, don't worry. Learning to play any instrument takes time and practice. Keep trying and experimenting with different mouth positions and you will get it.


Advanced techniques

There are many different notes and manipulations that you can achieve with a Didgeridoo. There are a couple of fundamental building blocks that are easy to get a feel for and can later be extrapolated upon.

1. Embouchure Manipulation

The first is changing your mouth embouchure. When you're able to hold your basic drone you'll be able to tighten loosen your lips to affect the pitch. You can also change the resonation by increasing or decreasing the volume of your mouth. Do this by smiling and pulling your cheeks up or squeezing them inwards by pouting. With practice you can manipulate the sound quite a bit and you'll get some very interesting frequencies coming out of your Didgeridoo. Every good Didgeridoo is cut to a particular note; and there will therefore be a particular pitch which will resonate extremely powerfully.

2. Mouth Position

In addition to changing mouth and lip position you can try changing the arrangement of your mouth on the mouthpiece by playing from the side of your lips instead of the front. This should give you more range control and give you the ability to play higher notes. It does take some practice though.

3. Growling

This is a technique where you hum into your Didgeridoo it while playing. You can try singing various strings of words and sounds or simply hum a melody. Experiment with different levels and pitches of growling and combine them with different frequencies of drones. Barking is a particularly popular technique and is achieved by letting out a quick high-pitched scream. This can be made to sound like various animals such as the hyena.

4. Rolling

Another technique is rolling your tongue. It is exactly what it sounds like and can achieve some very strange sounds. Combine it with some good low growling or high-pitched screams for some truly bizarre noises.

5. Mouth piece size

As you get more and more proficient at playing, try slowly decreasing the size of your mouthpiece. It may feel like you're limiting yourself at first, but you'll find that it will increase your note range to make you able to play the more intricate and complicated notes.

6. Resonation

For better sound quality and feedback; play in your bathtub, shower or any place with a hard tile or rock. The resonation is usually five times more powerful and makes playing all that much more fun. Also, you will find that you can hear more accurately what you are actually playing.


And finally;

Learning to play the Didgeridoo is simply a great adventure of experimentation, any strange noises you can make while talking to small children or while watching horror movies can be greatly enhanced when played into a Didgeridoo. Keep experimenting and playing around; you'll amaze yourself with what sorts of sounds you can create.