Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Children Learn Australian Sights, Sounds at Library; the Program Featured Fun for All Ages with Didgeridoo Instruments

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Children Learn Australian Sights, Sounds at Library; the Program Featured Fun for All Ages with Didgeridoo Instruments

Article excerpt

Byline: MAGGIE FITZROY

The aboriginal people of Australia create wind instruments called didgeridoos out of long, wide, hollowed-out sticks. They don't hollow out the sticks; they let termites do it.

Koalas are not bears, they're marsupials. They eat leaves from eucalyptus trees.

"Bindi" means crocodile in the language of Australia's aboriginal people. Australian crocodiles are the largest on the planet, and the meanest.

Children learned those facts and more about the continent of Australia on Wednesday at a weekly Florida Library Youth Program called "Didgeridoo Down Under" at the Ponte Vedra Beach branch library.

The program features educational entertainers every week and aims to encourage elementary-age kids to read a lot of books over the summer. The program, which also encourages them to log how much they read, is also popular with younger children, said Brad Powell, assistant branch manager and children's librarian.

So "we open it to everyone."

Lindsey Dank, a musician/educator from Gainesville who calls himself an "edutainer," brought a variety of didgeridoos to his 45-minute show.

He also lined the stage with photos of aboriginal people dancing, examples of their art and toy animals, including a koala, kangaroo, crocodile and platypus.

He opened the show by blowing into one of the didgeridoos, which made a long, low sound that captured the kids' attention.

"To the first people of Australia, didgeridoos are very important," he said. "Like books are important in a library."

They didn't have books, he said. But they did tell stories.

"And they taught their kids about the world with didgeridoos, through music and dancing."

Dank demonstrated how short didgeridoos make louder sounds than long didgeridoos.

He passed a dozen pairs of short hollow sticks around the room so the children could take turns keeping the beat when he played his instruments.

He talked about Australia's animals and how, "out of respect for Mother Nature," the aboriginal people search the forest for didgeridoo-ready eucalyptus sticks with which termites have already finished.

Then he ended the program with a dance session. …

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