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The Australian National University

Echoes under the Southern Cross: An Indigenous music course

In a first of its kind, ANU students have participated in an intensive Indigenous music course led by Warlpiri elder, Mr Wanta Patrick.

The week-long ANU School of Music course, Indigenous Australian Music and Media, offered students an immersive hands-on learning experience, encompassing not just Indigenous music and dance, but the ideas and lessons behind them.

Course lecturer, Mr Patrick, is the first Warlpiri academic to hold an Australian Research Council Indigenous Discovery Award, and says the course not only introduced students to Indigenous Australian traditions, but challenged them to learn more about themselves in an intercultural context.

Mr Patrick brought his expertise as Creative Director of the Milpirri Festival, held annually at Lajamanu in the Northern Territory’s Tanami Desert, to apply these “knowing through doing” techniques in a university learning environment for the first time.

“We use this kind of teaching for the Milpirri Festival and it’s been incredibly successful, so it was great to be able to offer a taste of this to students at ANU,” he says.

Course coordinator, Dr Aaron Corn, explains that the course’s teachings hold value for everyone who lives under the Southern Cross.

“This course is part of our on-going work to build a genuine accord between universities and the great intellectual traditions of Indigenous Australia. It’s about a system of society and law that existed before Europeans arrived here and is still practiced today,” he says.

Updated: 27 August 2012/ Responsible Officer:  Director, RSHA / Page Contact:  Web developer