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Orchestrating Reconciliation
Purga Music History
Ipswich Thistle Pipe Band Centennial
Music Outreach
Music Museum - Reflection on the role of Curator
In 2015, our creative discovery moves to a curated panel discussion at the Museums Australia Conference in Sydney (21-24 May). The theme is about the Context of Cultural Production; discussing the role of the Music Museum Curator. "What is the Museum today and how is it changing?" 

The next presentation is at the Musciological Society of Australia Conference in Sydney (1-4 October, 2015)--reflecting on ethnomusicological collaboration with communities.

New Blog -- Aero-Space Music Adventures Research Thinktank (2013)
The aerospace music discussion has now moved to a new blog,
Aero-Space Music Adventures Research Think Tank. Please join us...we need more musicians in space.
The worldwide community of museums will celebrate International Museum Day on 18th May, 2013.
The theme of the day is Museums (memory + creativity) = social change

Musical instruments such as aerophones are used in new environments.

Aerophones are musical instruments that are powered by wind or blowing. Of particular interest are astronauts playing the didjeridu and flute on the International Space Station (see YouTube). 

Also, another amazing innovation is the first Earth to International Space Station collaborative music performance thanks to
Chris Hadfield and BareNaked Ladies choir.
Thumbnail  (ISS) Is Somebody Singing? 

Science off the Sphere: Space Soundwaves II- Electric Didgeridoo (You Tube pub. 1 June, 2012).
Astronaut Cady Coleman plays flute on International Space Station (You Tube pub. 7 April, 2011).

Costume suggestions Thumbnail from Digital wood didgeridoo You Tube.

Read more about the
Aerophone Musical Performance.

Arts/Music Integration in Everyday Life and Learning
This is an interesting example of how educators in Annapolis, Maryland are integrating arts activities into regular curricular teaching/learning sessions in primary school. The video contains some aerospace examples for concept development through dance choreography. 

Arts Integration You Tube video       Arts Integration for Deeper Learning in Middle School
We have reached more than 10,000 views of Music Health Australia presentations on Slideshare! That means that a lot of people are interested in musicking and health. 

2012 Aerospace Musical Adventures - A-SMART Project launch is on the Creative Communities/Services webpage.
Realising the importance of listening to people and allowing them to choose activities that are meaningful and relevant to their daily occupation and living situations.

You Tube video about setting goals for occupational therapy.
International Museum Day May 18, 2012
Four-Hand Challenge: Play Piano with a friend!

The aim of the Piano Crawl is to encourage teamwork and to revive the long-standing tradition of Piano Parlour Music by inviting people to play duets on pianos/keyboards in their homes and community centres.
It is a fun, participatory salon event that pianists and lovers of piano music can enjoy.
See the
6-Week Plan to prepare for the four-handed challenge.

Children in Afghanistan are performing wonderful piano duets.
Congratulations to Sima (grade 7) and Feiruza (grade 5) from the Afghanistan National Institute of Music, for playing "Ay Sarban" so beautifully.

Years of civil war and Taliban rule, which banned all non-religious music, devastated Afghanistan's musical culture.

Dr Ahmad Sarmast is on a mission to open the country's first national institute of music and transform the lives of orphans and street kids in Afghanistan. The two-part Artscape series,
Dr Sarmast’s Music School screens on July 10 and 17 at 10.05pm on ABC1.

Related Links
Dr Sarmast's Music School on Radio National's The Music show
What can we learn from the Marvel Avengers about Teamwork? The Official Trailer to the movie is online: YouTube:Marvel Avengers Assemble (2012) Watch the Official trailer | HD Marvel Avengers Assemble

Let us know your thoughts about the movie and the soundtrack. We use teamwork in playing music together.

March - June, 2012

The PURGA MUSIC OUTREACH is a platform for musical expression that crosses borders of real or imagined dimensions of time and space.

DISCOVER MUSICAL LIVELIHOODS PROGRAM invites participants to unpack cases containing people's stories about doing, being and becoming musical... and some unusual memorabilia.


Help us put together a case about your own, or someone else's musical livelihood for cultural display.

DISCOVER MUSICAL LIVELIHOODS WORKSHOPS support people's cultural engagement with music. Workshops encourage progress along music development pathways.

Key Questions: What can we learn from people's stories about their musical livelihoods?
How can this shape our careers and interests?

This year, research centered on reading the Harold Blair papers from the National Library of Australia

Best answer to that is found in the writings of Australian author, Ruth M. Bedford (Sydney Morning Herald, 10 March, 1928, page 13):

O children when you learn to read,
You'll like it very much indeed;
For now, of course, you only look
At pictures in a picture book.

But think how glorious for you
When you can read the stories through
And learn what all the pictures mean
In all the books you've ever seen.

You'll take a book from off the shelf
And read a story to yourself,
Or read aloud, as grown-ups do,
To someone not as big as you.

IN ABSENCE (Sydney Morning Herald, 18 February, 1928, page 13):
Apart are we, but fast and free
Fly little thoughts so swift and fond
No space, no barriers there be
But love can wing her way beyond.

Ruth Marjory Bedford  (1882-1963)       
Really enjoyed watching Star Wars in 3D and listening to the soundtrack to acquaint myself with the musical devices. Anakin Skywalker emerged as a victorious pilot with an uncertain future.

When reading about real life pioneers in aviation, Amelia Earhart (US pilot) stands out as quite remarkable. She set a number of records for "firsts" for women. In 1937, her plane disappeared over the Pacific, and while there are theories about what happened to her, no one is really certain - even today. Her biography would be fascinating to read.

Jone Johnson Lewis has compiled "
Amelia Earhart Quotes." About Women's History. They are legendary. The one I like is: About her first airplane ride: "As soon as we left the ground, I knew I had to fly."
She said, "Adventure is worthwhile in itself."

But "Wait, there's more"... I've just been handed Terry Gwynn-Jones' book, Pioneer Airwoman: The Story of Mrs Bonney (1979), by my husband. It says that on 26 December, 1931 Mrs Lores Bonney (born as Maude Rose Rubens) set a new Australian record for distance covered in one day by flying 1,524 km from Brisbane to Wangaratta. In 1932 she became the first woman to circumnavigate Australia by air, leaving Brisbane on 15 August and arriving back on 27 September. Bert Hinkler was the one who first introduced her to the wonders of flying. 

And now for a quote to round off the conversation about universe/cosmos, music and flight:
“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.”

This quote is mysterious because many say it is by Plato, but scholars have not been able to find it anywhere in the writings of Plato. I wonder where it came from....

And, a thought that is found in Plato's writings, "as the eyes are framed for astronomy, so the ears are framed for the movements of harmony, and these are in some sort sister sciences" (Republic, 530d).

Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menance (PG) is showing at Birch Carroll and Coyle Cinemas near you. We are watching the show to inspire more experimental music compositions. 

Thinking about, what does our neighbourhood need most?

Do we need to start an Aerospace Youth Band around the Amberley, Willowbank, Purga, Ripley side of Ipswich to play Star Wars and experimental music? Please contact us with your thoughts and ideas about that.


Or instead of a band, could we have about 1,000 instruments around the Willowbank speedway that can be played by passing traffic - as shown in this OK Go You Tube video, made in partnership with Chevrolet.
 "Needing/Getting" song with musical speedway driving (amazing)
Thanks to Alex for suggesting that link. I like it!  It's quite a geeky way to play music - don't you think?
Inspired by these renditions of the "Imperial March," I now want to learn to play all the Star Wars themes on recorder. Fortunately, the Music Room has 7 tunes from the Star Wars trilogy available in one book for only $9.
"Written for easy recorder, this book features big, easy-to-read notes, a beginner's guide to playing the recorder, and a clear, simple introduction to reading music."
For special percussion effects, ALDI stores have the Livingstone Electronic Drum Kit (Model #DD305) selling for $99.95. Features include: 7 drum pads with touch sensitivity, tempo +/- and reverb, 215 percussion voices including cosmic sounds, 3 digit LED screen with 100 preset songs and 1 demo song, 2 pedals including bass drum and hi-hat, USB port (MIDI in/out), record and playback feature. Also includes drum sticks and bag, drum stand, headphones, power adaptor, and instruction booklet.

drum part goes something like this, or this YouTube video. There are lots of recorder versions of the "Star Wars theme" online, and even a webpage describing how to play the tune on recorder. Music teachers can help.
Another colossal version of John William's Imperial March (Darth Vader's Theme) from Star Wars Triology -- Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back movie - which originally premiered on 29 April, 1980. In the movie it is heard performed by symphony orchestra.
In this YouTube video, the "Imperial March," arranged by J. Nykänen for 2 pianos, is performed by Jukka Nykänen & Marko Hilpo, Mänttä, Finland June 26, 2009. The spectacular piano duet captures much of the regal symphonic atmosphere and tension as the drama unfolds.
Melbourne, Australia
16-20 SEPT, 2012

This congress may be of interest to music health professionals who want to explore new emerging areas of practice. 
25 Jan, 2012
The Queensland Times newspaper announced today:

"THE tender for the development of a $150 million aerospace and defence centre at Amberley has been awarded. KPMG, Parsons Brinckerhoff and Suters Architects will work together on the $150 million world-class aerospace and defence hub. Deputy Premier Andrew Fraser said the companies would prepare the business case and detailed master plan. "We anticipate this centre will create up to 3500 Queensland jobs and generate more than $10 billion in economic activity over the long-term, so it's important that we get this right," he said."

What kind of sonic environment will that create? 
  • "Aerospace Ethnomusicology: Musicians in Flight" .... [working on that idea] 
Oooowww, wwooo, wow... even the dogs are getting into the Star Wars music now! See the Bark Side Choir on the 2012 Volkswagen Game Day video.
The Bark Side: Volkwagens and Star Wars Music???
The 366 Project of occupational therapist, Matthew Molineaux, which involves taking a photograph, each day, every day for 2012 -- started me thinking about a musical way of doing that. What would it sound like to record a sound, or write music for every day of the year? Might try that...
Greetings the Underground Opera Company. When I wrote "In Search of UMOs," and asked for sub-terranean Unidentified Musical Objects (UMOs), I never for one minute imagined that people would be making music underground...However, the Underground Opera Company does! The video of their opera performance in the Jenolan Caves is particularly awe-inspiring. Looking forward to UOC events closer to home in 2012.
HHHHHrrrr, not more music creatives in outer space doing Cello Wars again. Use your cellos for good!
             The Piano Guys on You Tube, a long time ago, in a Galaxy far, far away....
This week I enjoyed a visit to see the Link-Up  Sustaining Connections Art for Well-being display. We had morning tea with the project team and even sang some songs with well-known artist and singer, Aunty Rhonda Collard. Read about this inspiring project of artwork with Stolen Generations communities around Queensland.
Orange Regional Conservatorium in New South Wales and the Association of NSW Regional Conservatoriums. Interested to read that you teach Celtic Harp and Bagpipes in your music education program, not only orchestral instruments.
South Burnett Community Orchestra (SBCO) from Kingaroy, Queensland. Great to hear that you now have 50-60 musicians in your orchestra!  
Whaaaat? An Electric Musical Playground? How does that work? Thumbnail
             Richie's Electric Playground You Tube
Richie Allen, Jolt Creatives, Robotics Consultant and Sound Artist.
"Get ready for a revolutionary science experience. Build your very own musical home that can be powered by natural sunlight or, when the sun is down, a hand powered DC generator. The house features, a working LED sign display, doorbell, windmill and musical sound. Enjoy listening to the music in the house anywhere and anytime! At the same time learn about green energy."

 Available from
NASA astronaut Cady Coleman played the flute on the International Space Station Feb. 9, 2011. Read more...
             (click on link to You Tube video)Thumbnail
             Astronaut drinking coffee in space (NASA) Thumbnail

Has anyone tried this? Does anyone want to try it? Why? Why not?

Andre Navarra School for musical talents in Podgorica, Montenegro. Enjoyed reading your blog and seeing the lovely photographs. 
Here is a fun website with games, called "Learn English," by the British Council.
             Hubble space telescope images (You Tube)
Over the last week in October, I asked for people to bring out their UMOs (Unidentified or Unused Musical Objects).

In travelling around, it has been curious to discover Unlikely Musical Objects in the strangest of places -- in homes, backyards, sheds, playgrounds and botanical gardens, community halls and churches. I am looking for all different kinds of Unused Musical Instruments, or Unusual Musical Traditions (UMTs) that are rarely heard or in danger of dying out. Would love to write about these on the website.

I can recall mentioning that we are especially looking for flying, extraterrestrial, sub-terranean, and aquatic UMOs; even 
Alien Musical Encounters with UMOs -- I never really imagined what that might bring.

And then Joann of the Tuggerah Lakes UFO Group sent me a kind invitation to attend the next UFO meeting at Wyong in New South Wales. UFO is the term used for "Unidentified Flying Objects" (which usually refers to space ships and the like). 'Hi' to everyone in the Tuggerah Lakes UFO group, great to meet you on Facebook.

This opens a whole new dimension of
extraterrestrial music (ET), which people have been exploring on You Tube. I wasn't originally thinking about aliens and space ships, but the UFO experts say, "the Truth is Out There"....so we really should post more recordings of UMO sounds and sightings from around Australia, or beyond.

Coming to a Galaxy near you...Let us know if there are strange musical sounds coming from your neighbourhood... dooo, doo,doo,do,do,dddddddrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrt

Music Outreach is about exploring music occupations and soundscapes in the real world - outside the four walls of the museum or the classroom. On 9th October, the
Brisbane Kite Festival inspired my research into wind-powered instruments, as well as a lot of kite flying for people of all ages (see below). 
The 7th Annual 
Grass Roots Music Festival Sunday, 16th October, Mt Coot-tha Botanical Gardens, Toowong: featured award-winning musicians ranging in style from acoustic rock to blues to bluegrass to roots and back again, in a lush environment inviting to all ages... and it was free of charge. The question I was interested in exploring was, "Does the environment make a difference to musical enjoyment and participation?" This is what I discovered....
 Waterfall at Mt-Coot-tha, Brisbane, (Mike & Margaret's blog photo)  
It was a great atmosphere in the Botanic Gardens, reclining on the grassy slope in front of the bandstand, with families and people of all ages crowding all around and relaxing under the shady trees.

I learned about musicians' health through listening to a song entitled, "The Gig from Hell." Amazing, to hear the misadventures of musicians on the road -- getting lost, rocking up to the gig at the wrong time,  playing the wrong musical genre; and waiting, waiting for the cheque in the mail. But this concert at Mt Coot-tha Botanical Gardens was more of a Picnic in a Park, than a Gig from Hell.

I wandered around the back of the bandstand to see if there was any access for wheelchairs onto the stage, and drifted into wandering through endless meandering tracks -- on and on through a cool, shady rainforest area with a gently babbling stream...and to my surprise, I came across a strange sort-of-metallic xylophone thing that you could sit upon, with mallets underneath that looked for all the world like microphones with cords attached. While no one was listening or looking, I tapped out delightful ringing sounds -- that sometimes harmonised with the brook, and at other times jangled Debussy, gamelan-reminiscent melodies that were somewhat dissonant to the country rock/blues concert happening far away in the background.

Just when I thought that I had stumbled into an altogether different soundworld, along came two lads of about 10 or 12 years of age, who said to their parents, "Oh, look at the seat with microphones, we better not touch that." As they were about to leave, I said, "but listen -- you can play it."  And they had a great time playing the King Fern Seat, and entertaining all the passers-by with their musicking.

It was strange to find that fandangled Unidentified Musical Object (UMO), hidden away out there in the rainforest -- where I didn't expect to hear the sounds of children making music. Serendipity at its best, that the kids could stage their own concert in a secret place!

Musical play equipment is now appearing in many local public playgrounds and it can be used freely by people of any age or ability. We have steel drums at Browns Park at North Ipswich, and also at the Springfield Parklands. What was intriguing about the King Fern Seat, however, was that it emulated the shape of a plant in the natural environment in which it was situated, and had different functions -- as a seat and a musical instrument.

Online research reveals that Freenotes, a UK company now supplies outdoor musical playground equipment through an Australian distributor called 
Active Play. Other websites of interest include:

wHere neXt?? wAnt tO joiN uS... coUld Be musIc hApPenIng iN yoUr Own baCkyaRd... oR doWn thE roaD!
(photographs by Sandra Kirkwood)
Today, hundreds of people were out flying kites for the Brisbane Kite Festival which was held at Murrarie Recreation Ground.

Many kites make noises, such as those that swoop and make a whooshing or whistling sound. Exploring other things that fly and make wind-powered sounds (also known as aeolian instruments).

Nerf Vortex Pocket Howler Review (Aus Toys)
             People have incorporated these kind of sound makers into kites and other weird and wonderful wind-powered instruments.

Videos of musical kites and wind instruments (Didier Ferment, Robert Valkenburgh, Uli Wahl, Bruno Tondellier).

Bibliography of musical kites (with thanks to Uli Wahl for this extraordinary research)!

for unusual instruments and instrument making
(Thanks to Experimental Musical Instruments. Email contact

Check out the Singing Ringing Tree, Panopticon, Crown Point, Burnley, Lancashire, UK 
(a very inspiring wind powered instrument that was commissioned by the Burnley Council).

             Singing Ringing Tree (sounds a bit spooky with wind howling through pipes)

Curious to know if anyone is experimenting with musical kites or wind-powered instruments in Australia?

Research and development for Music Outreach Programs has been in progress throughout 2011. The following projects were initially run in south-east Queensland and could now be extended to other regions:

FISH'N'SING Musicking that is related to certain occupations such as fishing; linking human interaction with natural ecologies and environmental protection agendas.

MUSIC LIFE STORIES Creating stories related to people, land, and livelihoods; musical tributes.

PIPE BANDS HISTORY Investigating history and music traditions of particular cultural groups.

Community consultation, research & development to advise on future planning of culturally engaged music for a region. Developing Music Action Plans.

HEALTH PROMOTION Community-based rehabilitation (eg. Flood Recovery Sing-along). Occupational Therapy assessment and programs to promote healthy lifestyles and physical activity through ethnomusicking.

To register your interest in being involved, please
contact us.

The Music Outreach webpage focuses on musicking of people of all ages and abilities. The webpage broadcasts a whole range of novel creative activities, music occupations and community collaborations, such as:
  • Natural or constructed environments that allow people to design, adapt and shape their own musicking experiences;
  • Positive examples of equity, diversity and access to performing arts;
  • Participatory musicking which allows people to have a voice on issues that are meaningful and relevant to their daily lives, rather than relying on mass media representations;
  • Observations about whether musicking is supported as a valued occupation in particular contexts;
  • Examples of musical livelihoods, and how people negotiate interactions that support musicking;
  • Supporting cultural leadership by elders and culture bearers locally, nationally and internationally;
  • Connection of musicking to place, especially places of social, environmental and cultural significance ;
  • Building relationships that encourage social inclusion of people with unmet needs;
  • Pursuit of excellence in musicking, and examples of outstanding individuals or ensembles; 
  • Moving across boundaries of services, encouraging inter-disciplinary interaction and innovation;
  • Collaboration in identifying concerns, problem-solving and responding to musical issues to promote health and well-being.
The purpose is to inform people about the possibilities for cultural engagement with community music nationally, and to encourage people to refer to Music Health Australia for consultancy and support services. The Music Outreach grew from the Purga Music Museum which was established in rural Ipswich, Queensland in 2003. 

Kirkwood, Sandra (2011). Doing, being and becoming more active through playing part in community-based museum scenarios [electronic version]. Retrieved 15 September, Music Health Australia: Ipswich (

Kirkwood, S. (2010) Ethnomusicking: Valued music occupation or audacious antics in the Purga Music Museum. Cultural Diversity in Music Education Conference Proceedings, 11-12 January, 2010, Sydney, Australia.
CDIME 10 Conference website).

Kirkwood, S. (2009) Turn of the century: Ipswich Thistle Pipe Band 1909-2009. Ipswich. Available for purchase from (

Kirkwood, S. (2009) Frameworks of culturally engaged community music practice for rural Ipswich, Australia. Master of Philosophy Thesis. Queensland Conservatorium, Griffith University.
Full text available from Australasian Digital Theses Program

Kirkwood, Sandra (2008) The First Hundred Years of the Ipswich Thistle Pipe Band: A 'Community of Discovery' Approach to Participatory Action Research [online]. In: Strong, Catherine (Editor); Phillipov, Michelle (Editor). Stuck in the Middle: the Mainstream and its Discontents: Selected Proceedings of the 2008 IASPM-ANZ Conference. Auckland, N.Z.: International Association for the Study of Popular Music. 2008: 152-164. (
Full text
available through Informit database).

Kirkwood, S. (2005) The Purga Music Story and Harold Blair. Purga Music. Ipswich.

Nelson, S & Polansky, L (1993) The Music of the Voyager Interstellar Record. Journal of Applied Communication Research, November, 358-361.

Weiss, Joël
(2006) Beyond MuseumWalls: An Exploration of the Origins and Futures of Web-Based, Museum Education Outreach inThe International Handbook of Virtual Learning Environments (p.915).

Article written by Sandra Kirkwood; last updated 16 November, 2016

© Sandra Kirkwood, 2008
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