KCSS music program gifted with unique instrument

June 22, 2016   ·   0 Comments

Student Greg Mitchell (left) and KCSS teacher Kim Headon (right) accept the donation of a didgeridoo to the school band from former resident Tom Simpson.

By Jake Courtepatte
King City Secondary School band will have a new addition to their wind ensemble next school year.
A graduate of the school in the 1970s presented a unique donation to the class at the band’s annual end-of-year performance, a didgeridoo he acquired while on a trip with the school as a chaperone in the 1980s.
Tom Simpson tells the story of the once-in-a-lifetime trip the school band took to World Expo ’88 in Brisbane, Australia, bringing along 39 students and 16 chaperones.
“It was a three-week trip, and they played for half a day at the Expo at the Canadian Pavilion,” said Simpson. “Then there was a lot of sightseeing and exploring, it was such a privilege to go on the trip.”
He also did some sightseeing on his own, leaving the group for a few days to explore the Australian Outback. There he rented a small camper, and made his way to Ayer’s Rock, a World Heritage Site in the Northern Territory.
“Sitting against the rock was an aboriginal, playing the instrument. I asked him, ‘how much?”
The Aboriginal, named “Nosepick,” traded the didigeridoo with Simpson for a few sudsy beverages.
Fast forward 28 years, and Simpson, a former Oak Ridges councillor who has since made his home farther north, thought the instrument would make for an interesting learning experience and would get more use at the school than in his home.
“It’s been sitting in my closet for years. I thought, why not give it to someone where it can be displayed, or even used?”
A didgeridoo, often described as a “wooden trumpet,” is a wind instrument developed and made popular by indigenous Australians. They generally measure from three to 10 feet long, with longer instruments providing a lower tone.
Music teacher Kim Headon and student Greg Mitchell, whose father had been on the trip to Australia, accepted the gift on behalf of the school.
“We’re going to have to look up some music for the didgeridoo,” said Headon, who, like most Canadians, was new to the instrument. “I’m sure some of the kids will want to try it.”



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