Songs on Country and Singing Back Our languages
Song is an effective medium for learning and sharing fragile languages and a strong tool for community bonding. Our Language Champions say that singing in their own languages makes them very proud. Pama Language Centre facilitates two song-based language programs: Songs on Country and Singing Back Our Languages. Songs on Country is a corpus development project facilitated by composer and music educator Joshua McHugh. Joshua works with Elders, linguists and children in Hope Vale, Aurukun and the Northern Peninsula area to write original songs in their own languages. Two years ago there were no children’s songs in Guugu Yimithirr, the language of Cooktown and Hope Vale which is the little known source of the word “kangaroo” – gangurru in Guugu Yimithirr. Now SOC songs in five ancestral languages of Cape York Peninsula are sung in classrooms, playgrounds and homes from Aurukun on the west coast, to Hope Vale on the east and Bamaga at the northernmost tip of the Australian continent. More than 40 songs have been composed, four song books published, and numerous beautiful recordings and film clips created.
Songs on Country song books will soon be available from the Pama Language Centre web store. We will notify on facebook as the song books become available. Video clips for many of the songs composed by our language teams can be found on this page below. More clips and materials will be added as they are completed. We will also be uploading additional arrangements and teaching resources to enable these songs to be used in song-based language learning.
Songs on Country compositions are now forming the repertoire for Singing Back Our Languages choirs. The Singing Back Our Languages Choir Program started in 2017 with workshops in collaboration with the Mpakwithi and Injinoo Ikya Ancestral Language Teams at NPA State College campuses in Bamaga and Injinoo. Singing Back Our Languages now runs ancestral language choir workshops each term with schools in three communities.
Pama Language Centre will be collaborating with Queensland Music Festival in 2019 to bring Singing Back Our Languages to Hope Vale, Aurukun and Coen. The Northern Peninsula program will also continue in collaboration with the Mpakwithi and Injinoo Ikya Ancestral Language Action Teams and NPA State College.