Music, Language and Culture Workshops

The 2017 project funded by the Federal Government’s Department of Communications and the Arts was the first year of a two-year funding agreement, and involved the Mambali Band from Numbulwar, B2M from the Tiwi Islands and the Lonely Boys from Ngukurr. It culminated with the band members delivering workshops at the 2017 Barunga Festival.

James Mangohig travelled to three remote communities between April and the end of May 2017 to work with each band. The workshops were structured to develop the bands skills in facilitating workshops designed for Indigenous and non- Indigenous participants. Each band was able to provide a very different perspective in their workshop, due to different cultural approaches and different languages. This resulted in a specific delivery approach and focus for each of the bands.

The B2M workshop was held on Saturday on the APRA Stage. The workshop was facilitated by Jeffrey Simon and Fabian Kantilla. It focused more on song writing, and how people can express themselves through music. The two facilitators engaged the 35 participants in creating a song in English, and then developed a Tiwi flavour by adding a Tiwi traditional chant.

The Mambali Band workshop was also held on Saturday on the APRA Stage. The entire Mambali Band attended this workshop, and it attracted an audience of over fifty people. Mambali concentrated more on the traditional roots of their music and the language that carries the song. They were able to explain the origin of their songs and encouraged the workshop participants to sing with them in the band’s language. Due to popular demand the band conducted another workshop on Sunday, again to fifty participants.

The Lonely Boys workshop followed on Sunday on the APRA Stage. Lonely Boys introduced Kriol to the audience, and explained why they sing in Kriol and not in their first languages. Similar to the Mambali Band, they got the participants singing their songs, after which they would explain the origin of the song and how that particular song came to be written. This workshop attracted an enthusiastic audience of 35 participants.

The workshops were a highlight, not only for the participants, but the bands as well. The bands have had little experience in interacting with a non-Indigenous audience, so running workshops where the majority of the participants were non-Indigenous was a challenge for everybody, and a big step forward for each of the bands.

These activities were funded by a grant from the NT Government Community Benefits Fund.