Thursday 13 October, 2011

peter_lowsonimg_60582010 MiCN Award winner Peter Lowson has been working with Indigenous Youth and Adult education programs since 1983. In 2004 he started Drum Atweme, initially as a means of encourage school attendance. Although primarily Afro-Cuban and Brazilian influenced, the rhythms are worked around the songs and stories of the indigenous participants’ culture. The program has transformed the lives of countless Alice Springs town camp-based children. 

Peter will be our MiCN Mentor blogging for us this month live from Alice Springs...

The Drum Atweme program goes from strength to strength and is recognition of the importance that music plays in children’s lives. We are currently seeing 110 participants a week in the schools program.

 

img_5784The performance group Drum Atweme (pronouced 'Atoom' meaning 'to hit the drum' in the Arrernte language) has performed at over 300 corporate and community events since 2005. Many of the members having been with the group for up to six years. One of the girls who was a founding member and is studying in Adelaide, doing vocal training and is a valued member of the school choir. We now have about 23 members of Drum Atweme studying at boarding schools all around Australia. It is testament to the power of music, when they return for holidays to visit family, they always call to see if there are any performances on so they can join in!

Back in September, fifteen members of Drum Atweme were involved in a musical play for the Alice Desert Festival called Bamba and the Big Tree. The play was written by well-known Melbourne based Gambian drummer King Marong. As well as perfoming on the drums and dancing, three of the girls from the group had acting roles in the play. It was really good to do as it challenged the group to do something different both musically and in performance. They were very proud and excited, and are keen to do more. Hopefully we will tour it - It was one of the highlights of the Festival!

Just last week we got back from Uluru, where we'd been for the school holidays. Twelve girls travelled 460kms from Alice Springs on our bus and did seven performances at the resort. It was great! We had the chance to involve other children and adults in performance - playing drums, percussion and dance. And they got to learn some indigenous language from our girls. Many people said it was one of the highlights of their trip to Uluru seeing these kids perform and being able to play along with them for some it was the first time they had ever done anything musical.

 

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Photographs by Charlie Lowson