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Music is a major part of community life in Hermannsburg, and for many young people it could be a future career opportunity.
In the final part of our three-part special on Hermannsburg, Newslines Radio caught up with organisers and performers at the community’s recent Sounds of Ntaria concert.
Cliff Raggett, one of the young people running the sound at the event, talks about how the skills he’s learnt in CAAMA Music’s Regional Music Development Program could lead to a great job in the music industry.
Funded by the Australian Government through the Aboriginals Benefit Account, the three-year program will teach 16 people from remote Indigenous communities, known as Music Industry Rangers, the skills they need to become experienced sound engineers and mentors who can pass on their new knowledge to their communities.
“Let’s just say music is like my life,” Cliff said.
“Out here, everyone loves music because the music is in our blood.”
PRESENTER: Hi, I’m Nathan Ramsay and you’re listening to Newslines Radio, an Australian Government program on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issues.
This is the final of our three-part special feature on the central desert community of Hermannsburg, known in the local Western Arrarnta language as Ntaria.
The week Newslines visited, the community was getting ready for a concert called Sounds of Ntaria, to show off the musical talents of the locals. The home of country music star Warren H Williams and his extended family, Hermannsburg has plenty of musical talent to go around.
PRESENTER: We asked young performer Genise Williams what she loves about music.
G WILLIAMS: Everything. I love to sing. I love just hearing music. This is what happens in Hermannsburg, everyone’s brought together with music. It’s a big part of our life here in Hermannsburg really. Apart from sports, music is the next big thing in the community.
PRESENTER: The concert was also a chance for students to demonstrate their skills from two local training courses. Charles Darwin University in Alice Springs delivered a free Certificate II in Music course for people in the community – something Genise was keen to take part in.
G WILLIAMS: We’ve been learning how to organise a concert, learning how to write up a set list and all that stuff, stage managing stuff and all that. It’s sort of testing us as to what we’ve learnt in our classes so far.
PRESENTER: The concert was also a test for another group of students participating in CAAMA Music’s Regional Music Development Program. Funded by the Australian Government through the Aboriginals Benefit Account, the three-year program will teach 16 people from remote Indigenous communities, known as Music Industry Rangers, the skills they need to become experienced sound engineers and mentors who can pass on their new knowledge to their communities.
Their first assignment was to organise and operate all the sound equipment for the Sounds of Ntaria concert.
Newslines caught up with Cliff Raggett, the Music Industry Ranger from Hermannsburg community.
RAGGETT: Let’s just say music is like my life. Out here, everyone loves music because the music is in our blood, you know what I mean? I always play music every day and night out here and teaching the young ones how to play guitars and drums. We’ve been learning other stuff like doing recording and how to make sounds. Learning how to use the computer too, recording on ProTools.
PRESENTER: Cliff says music is an important tool to help keep young people on the right track.
RAGGETT: If you’re a music lover you’ve got to stick to music. This music we’re doing out here, keeping the young ones out of drugs and grog, some sort of stuff, that’s why we’re doing music out here.
PRESENTER: Newslines also spoke to another Sounds of Ntaria performer from the talented Williams family, Cassandra, who is studying music at Adelaide University.
C WILLIAMS: I come from a musical family, but I wanted to take that step bit further, learn how to read music, compose, probably produce music, help the community do recordings and stuff like that.
PRESENTER: Cassandra stays in Adelaide for classes and returns to Hermannsburg during uni holidays. While she’s used to it now she said the big city felt a little odd at first.
C WILLIAMS: I love community lifestyle, it’s open, you can breathe, no pollution at all. I get kind of dizzy from the skyscrapers and the cars everywhere. Not a big fan.
PRESENTER: After she graduates, Cassandra plans to put her skills to good use helping others in the community achieve their own musical goals.
C WILLIAMS: I’m hoping to come back to my community here in Hermannsburg and teach the youth and women, bring them on board to music, give them the opportunity to read music as well.
They’re really good at just listening and playing it. It will be even better if they even learn to read music. That would seriously make them a really, really good musician. Anyone could hire them and give them a piece of music paper and just say “can you read this and play to this?” It’ll be a really big advantage for them in life.
PRESENTER: Through the Stronger Futures in the Northern Territory Initiative, the Australian Government is continuing to support Aboriginal people in Hermannsburg community.
To find out more, check out the links on our website, Indigenous.gov.au.
You can also follow Closing the Gap on Twitter, and like Indigenous.gov.au on Facebook.
Let’s go out with a track from one of Hermannsburg’s talented musicians. Here’s Young Fella, written by Max Fejo and performed by Max and his son Jamie.
I’m Nathan Ramsay, thanks for listening to Newslines Radio.