The popularity of the instrument flared so much in the mid-'90s through the 2000 Olympics that Australian officials feared over-harvesting of eucalyptus trees to keep up with consumer demand. The government issues 3,000 permits per year to harvest an equal number of instruments: An informal survey at one Northern Territory boutique revealed that 9,000 had been sold there in 1999 alone.
The didgeridoo is now too daunting for most to attempt to play and more or less ignored in the U.S. since Dick Ebersol and the rest of NBC Sports fled Aussieland, but San Antonio's Charlotte Jorgensen is trying to turn us on to how good the didg can make us feel.
What makes the didgeridoo most interesting to both Jorgensen and Phil Jones, a renowned didgeridoo player, yoga practioner, and visitor to San Antonio is the deep concentration necessary to breathe and play the instrument. Skilled didg players continually inhale as they exhale, known as circular breathing, creating an unbroken, droning sound differentiated only by the movements of the mouth.
"It's a musical tool that is meditative," says Jorgensen, who with her husband opened Synergy Studio in Olmos Park in January 2002. "Phil uses it in his daily meditation. He feels that the vibrational sound is part of healing the body."
Jones will visit Jorgensen's studio Saturday, January 25, to lead a class of 20 in learning to play the didgeridoo. By the end of the three-hour session, Jorgensen says, participants should "have the hang of it to play it. But not everybody gets the circular breathing right away. That pause between in and out goes away - it's very unusual."
To give the didg a try for yourself (without the difficult breathing or worry of deforestation), see www.charly-didgeridoo.com/live_uk.php3. •
YOGA OF BREATH AND SOUND DIDGERIDOO
Saturday, January 25
$20 advance, $25 door
(in The Yard)
For reservations or more information,
call Charlotte Jorgensen 824-4225, ext. 1