By clicking “Accept All Cookies”, you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyze site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts. View our Privacy Policy for more information.
Educational Resources

William Barton, with Scott Tinkler & Simon Barker:


MotherTongue, MotherLand by Sunny Kim (lead artist, vocals, percussion), with Mindy Meng Wang (guzheng, vocals), Gelareh Pour (kamancheh, qeychak, vocals), Aviva Endean (clarinets, vocals).
William Barton holding his didgeridoo in a studio in front of a burgundy background

William Barton:

Image: Keith Saunders

Written by
Rosie Pentreath
Published on
13th April 2023

Let’s get creative!

Creative Activity 1 – Connection to Country

Either individually or in small groups, find out the name of the Indigenous land on which your school is situated. Next, find out the peoples who are the traditional owners and custodians of the land.

Investigate the Indigenous musical traditions or contemporary/current musical cultures of your Indigenous land and peoples, and any key music institutions, groups, people or albums/songs.

Have a class discussion to share your findings!

If it is possible, reach out to local Indigenous musicians around your school, or Indigenous members within the school/ school community, who practice or are interested in music i.e.students, parents, families, friends. Invite them to join the conversation and speak about their relationships to their cultural heritage and music. The second link below includes an outline of how to engage with Indigenous peoples in a respectful manner, for purposes such as these.  

Here are some resources to get you started, if you need:

  1. Map of Indigenous Australia: here
  2. A guide on how to identify traditional owners, and how to respectfully engage with them: here
  3. A timeline of Indigenous Australian music albums: here
  4. On the broader traditions of Indigenous Australian music: here
  5. Recent music news! here

Creative Activity 2 – Sound Circle

This activity is best done as a whole class, but could also be done in small groups. Video and step-by-step instructions below!

1. Stand/sit in a circle with everyone, and close your eyes. If there isn’t enough space for a circle, spread out across the room, but make sure everyone is within earshot of each other.  

2. The teacher (or a student volunteer) starts off the Sound Circle by clapping, tapping, stamping or humming an improvised short rhythm. After this first rhythm is shared, everyone can then contribute to the Sound Circle by coming up with their own short rhythmic ideas, at any time they are ready. The aim is to listen to each other, and come up with rhythms that respond, mimic or "sound cool" with the rhythms you are hearing.

Rhythmic ideas maybe repeated/looped several times, may stop at any time and may continue throughout the whole duration of the Sound Circle. The goal is to never stop listening to others in your surroundings and to create by responding to what you hear.

3. The Sound Circle should end naturally, with students fading out or stopping their sounds as they listen and respond to their peers.

Example Sound Circle: can be played in the background if you are struggling for ideas!

Creative Activity 3 – Music from Place

1. Look back at your research from Activity 1. On a blank piece of paper, write the name of your Indigenous land in capital letters. Underline the letters in that word which belong in the Music Alphabet (underline any of these when they appear: A B C D E F G). Your underlined letters are the musical notes you will be using to make up your own music! Feel free to play those notes on a keyboard to test out how they sound.

Example of underlined musical letters

2. Using only your underlined notes, come up with melodic and rhythmic ideas within your group, like you did in the Sound Circle as a class: clapping, tapping, stamping, humming or singing improvised short rhythms. Revise the Sound Circle Tutorial video to refresh yourselves on how the music-making process unfolds. Extension: You may use instruments if you wish.

3. You will now expand and add some "time-keeping" to your music-making. To expand your music, choose another 2 words from your Activity 1 research – this could be one of the band names, artist names, music institution names etc. Again, spell out the name/s in capital letters and underline the music letters A B C D E F G. The underlined letters will be the only musical notes you use to improvise. Now in total, you should have 3 sets of different music notes.

4. Now on the same piece of paper, write up a time-plan of 3 sections: 0:00-0:30 (Section 1), 0:30-1:00 (Section 2), 1:00-1:30 (Section 3). Write down the musical notes you will be improvising with in each section – these are your 3 sets of music notes from the above step, one different set for each section.

5. Set a phone timer where everyone in your group can see. When it is time to change the set of notes, nominate someone to provide a clear visual cue, such as an obvious head-nod or stamp of the foot. Everyone in the group should look at each other for ensemble connection. Have fun!      

Presentation of Learning

Acknowledgement of Country

Begin the PoL with an Acknowledgement of Country – this could be done by an Indigenous member of the school community if possible, the teacher or a student volunteer/s. This ritual is essential particularly because we have been focusing on connection to country, and basing our music-making on connection to land. A quick guide on Acknowledgement of Country here.

Live Performance

Using your notated time-plan from Activity 3, improvise a live performance in front of the class.

If a live performance is not possible, students can record their improvisation performance through a DAW or voice recorder app. MP3 recordings and time-plans can be published privately via the school LMS, or on music/visual sharing sites such as Soundcloud, Google Drive or Dropbox.  

Australian Curriculum Mapped Outcomes

Year 7 and 8 Music

Exploring and responding - AC9AMU8E02

Investigate the diversity of music composed and/or performed by First Nations Australians, considering culturally responsive approaches to Indigenous Cultural and Intellectual Property rights.


Developing practices and skills - AC9AMU8D01

Develop and practise listening/aural skills and vocal and/or instrumental skills/techniques for manipulating elements of music to achieve expressive effects.


Developing practices and skills - AC9AMU8D02

Reflect on their own and others’ music to inform choices they make as composers and performers about how they will manipulate elements of music and/or compositional devices.


Creating and making - AC9AMU8C02

Compose using the elements of music and compositional devices to communicate ideas, perspectives and/or meaning, and notate, document and/or record the music.

Reference: View here

We acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we meet and create, and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and emerging.

Low view of Australian Outback landscape with red dirt texture heavily feature and dry grassy hill in the distant background