BA-BOOM! Adventures in Sound!

Mobile Music Program for Youth in Remote Areas
Browsing Ba-Boom! in Schools

Ba-Boom! in 2014


It  has been an eventful year of exciting engagements and new projects for Ba-Boom! With great support from the NPY Women’s Council, Ba-Boom have continued to deepen their relationships with the communities of Mimili, Ernabella, Amata, Docker River, Mutitjulu and Fregon by providing dynamic school holiday programs across the APY Lands throughout the year.

Using these relationships as a springboard, the Child and Mental Health Services of South Australia (CAMHS) were inspired to engage Ba-Boom to make repeated visits to Mimili Anangu School to specifically apply their Rhythm in Schools Program in addressing youth trauma. It’s been an incredible journey so far.

Ba-Boom’s first visit coincided with the timing of the annual APY Lands dance competition known as Ernabella Dance. The event organisers were open to having a youth drum ensemble perform for the opening and thus, the Mimili Maku Drummers were born.

Out of a two week period of rhythm immersion for all of the students at the school, at least ten kids volunteered to take on performing. As the school was also preparing a group dance item, the students were accustomed to the process of rehearsing. To complete the ritual of performance, special shirts were printed up to wear onstage and the fledgling music group were in good stead for their public debut. Needless to say, the Mimili Maku Drummers were warmly received for their opening item on the program and appreciated by all of the gathered youth and their families attending Ernabella Dance 2014.

While Ba-Boom’s first visit was novel, exciting and performance oriented, Ba-Boom!’s second visit to Mimili Anangu School was an opportunity to go deeper into the healing aspects of rhythm. Ongoing studies in childhood trauma and neurobiology reveal that “Areas of the brain most vulnerable to trauma are those responsible for thinking and processing information. Therefore children that have been exposed to trauma often have speech and language difficulties, as well as becoming hypervigilant, lacking impulse regulation and ability to concentrate. This causes a cascade of problems that include relationship and school issues; decreased employment opportunities later in life; increased heart disease, diabetes and immune disorders; and mental health problems. Experiencing neglect in the early years creates a set of burdens and developmental insults difficult to overcome without specialist services.”

With this basic understanding of childhood trauma, neurobiological processes, and the circumstances affecting youth in remote communities, Ba-Boom are acutely interested in and are successfully utilising rhythm as a healing modality. This current engagement via CAMHS with the Mimili youth, is enabling Ba-Boom to discover and impart even more creative ways to involve traumatised and disadvantaged youth on a Journey into Rhythm.


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“Ltyentye Apurte Drummers Do Central Australia Proud” – CAAMA


LAD- pre-show

Basking in the glory of a tour mission accomplished, Ba-Boom! and the L.A. Drummers flew out of Melbourne’s grey southern skies, back into the Central Desert’s crystal blue hues. Looking down upon the orange ground and seeing Santa Teresa in the distance, we wondered where and when will we be touring together again.

 On Saturday May 25, for the Long Walk 2013 celebrations, Melbourne’s Federation Square was filled with a sea of gathered people, eager to support The Ltyentye Apurte Drummers’ one and only public performance. Among the crowd were Indigenous luminaries, who later shared the same stage for this occasion. The L.A. Drummers’ powerful varied and precise beats resounded throughout the city, making the people in Federation Square dance joyously and cheer loudly, which brought the Drummers a deep sense of recognition, appreciation and joy.

Fed Square crowd

This major public performance represented the pinnacle and goal of months of preparation, work and training and was dedicated to the late school principal, Greg Crowe. The opportunity to present the high-level of youth musical excellence that is being cultivated in Santa Teresa’s school to a wider, Australian audience was initiated by Greg Crowe, who identified the annual The Long Walk celebrations as a suitable arena after the highly successful tour to Darwin in late August last year. Very sadly, Greg Crowe was tragically lost late last year, and we committed ourselves to following through on this, his last wish.

 Every year, The Long Walk begins with a community carnival in Federation Square before the celebrated Indigenous footballer and spokesperson for indigenous rights in sport, Michael Long leads the crowd to Dreamtime at the ‘G, which kick starts the Indigenous Round in the AFL. The annual commemoration of his historic walk to Canberrra is now a popular celebration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander achievement featuring inspiring speeches, great bands, kids activities, market stalls and more.


It was truly an honour for these young desert Drummers to be involved in this high-profile celebration and they gave their most refined and polished performance to date. Many people were eager to remark that their execution of the rhythmically sophisticated and complex arrangements was impeccable and compelling. Ba-Boom! are deeply committed to changing low expectations in the Indigenous education arena by highlighting the skills and abilities of Indigenous youth. Alternative activities and programs can be offered as legitimate pathways of learning and success. This consequently leads to enthusiasm and the desire to learn and achieve further success in more general and mainstream educational options.

Emotional responses to the Ltyentye Apurte Drummers’ performances are deep, as people are overjoyed and many are moved to tears. Other presentations were also given throughout the weeks’ tour to the students and staff at Clonard College in Geelong, Avila College in Mt. Waverly and Assumption College in Kilmore. All of these host schools were very welcoming and highly appreciative of the Drummers’ showcase.

end clap

Of course, getting this tour funded took an incredible amount of energy and commitment too. We would like to take this opportunity now to express our gratitude to all of the people involved in practically supporting this tour happen.

– Centrecorp Foundation (grant).

– AFL (donation and game tickets).

– Australia Post (donation and ground transport in Melbourne).

– Tangentyere Council Drum Atweme Program (donation).

– Bob Stewarts School Uniform Specialists (donation of specially embroidered tracksuits).

– Palmer Family (donation of bullock for the raffle).

– Bush Bus (transport to/from Alice Springs Airport).

– Richmond Football Club (a ‘hoodie’ for each student; showbag with beanie and posters; free tour of their newly opened museum and facilities with morning tea supplied; free MCG tour; presentation of a special Indigenous round playing jumper; question and answer time with Shane Edwards (player).

– Essendon Football Club (participation in the Long Walk schools’ program, free tour of club facilities; photo opportunity with three Indigenous players (Ryder, Dempsey and Jetta) and coach  James Hird; bbq lunch.

– African Drumming in St.Kilda for instrument hire: dunduns, djembes and percussion.

– Students and Staff of Clonard, Avila and Assumption Colleges in Victoria.

 The tour group was accompanied by a core group of dedicated staff whose support we greatly appreciated and would like to acknowledge: Alison Gallio, Barbara and Peter Dempster, Marcus J. Williams, Elaine Gorey and Rachel Palmer.

We would also like to acknowledge the current LACEC school principal, Brother Daniel Hollamby for his time and effort in helping to coordinate and organise the trip. 

Long Walk... from Santa Teresa 001Last but not least, we sincerely thank all seventeen young members of the Ltyentye Apurte Drummers, who are eager and willing to experience the wide, wonderful world of the performing arts, with all of its challenges and thrills, with Ba-Boom!

 Ultimately, the Journey into Rhythm that the entire Ltyentye Apurte School has been on, is not only a journey of hard work, commitment, discipline and dedication, but a journey of joy, pride and empowerment. These feelings are mirrored throughout the community as a whole. We have all gone beyond ourselves to create this phenomenon called the Ltyentye Apurte Drummers over the past 3 years.

Much more work needs to be done. We have seen incredible changes in the individuals in the group and changes in their attitudes towards school and learning in general since we first began our visits to Santa Teresa in 2009, but only a sustainable program can create sustainable change!

clare#1Here are some links to media coverage of the Federation Square celebrations that feature the Ltyentye Apurte Drummers:

And for more tour photos please go to our Facebook page!



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The first ever tour of The Ltyentye Apurte Drummers!


The first ever tour for The Ltyentye Apurte Drummers is almost underway after being uncertain for some time as to where the funding would come from to make this vision a reality.

So, it seems, it is possible ~ & dreams really do come true!

Hard work, committed training, good choices and some moving performances have all contributed to this tour coming to life. These young musicians are bursting with excitement as all of the many details in the planning for the journey come together.

Not only are we working hard at making our music exciting and precise by rehearsing every day, there is a big team from the school staff behind the scenes co-ordinating the logistics for 17 kids and 7 adults to travel overland over 3000km together for 13 days.

The Ltyentye Apurte Drummers will perform 9 shows in 4 towns: Tennant Creek, Mataranka, Katherine and Darwin. Along the way we will sleep in swags, camp in school halls and under the stars. We will carry with us a camp kitchen to prepare breakfast, lunch and dinner on most days. Posters, signage for the tour bus, touring outfits (shirts with identifying logos), venues, media, risk management and much much more are all a part of our combined preparation for this mega-journey into rhythm!

By demonstrating their musical skills with such enthusiasm and joy, The Ltyentye Apurte Drummers have impressed the following organisations so much that they were moved to donate substantial sums of money in support of the proposed tour. We’d like to acknowledge and deeply thank the significant contributions and support from the following organisations : CAYLUS (for the new performing shirts and wonderful monetary donation),  the Australian Government Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, the Atyenhenje-Atherre Aboriginal Corporation, the Chief Minister for Labour NT, St. Vincent de Paulthe Rotary Club of Melbourne, among many other offers of financial support from affiliated groups and individuals associated with the community of Santa Teresa.

A great big thank you for your support and belief in the growing success of The Ltyentye Apurte Drummers!

Have a look at many beautiful images from the tour on our FACEBOOK page here:


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School Holiday Music School


We very much enjoyed having the opportunity to prepare for our upcoming tour to Darwin by running a holiday program for the first time in Santa Teresa.

The school generously offered us a classroom to run our Ba-Boom! Holiday Music School. We set up the drums , other new and exciting instruments and a creative corner (offering colouring in, word searches and grid drawings) for the younger kids to remain engaged while we practiced the tried and true rhythms and learnt two new pieces with the older students. 

This was a great way to consolidate what the kids have learnt so far and an opportunity for those kids who haven’t had much of  a chance to play recently to get back into the groove and have a go at learning new patterns and beats. During this process we identified several younger students who displayed very promising aptitude for all of  the skills necessary to play and perform in a rhythm ensemble in the future. 

To maintain the students engagement with the school by offering three focused sessions every day proved to be very successful. We have noticed that the students’ ability to remain focused has improved enormously, with many kids staying for the full 2.5 hr sessions and some returning for every session during a day.

In addition to the classroom activities we also offered our usual holiday program activities: structured games, skills development, obstacle courses, bingo (fundraising for the tour!) lunch and oranges every day and some fun and interesting films from other indigenous communities. 

Attendance on the first day back at school was around 90%. We consider this to be a fantastic and desired outcome for a school holiday program! 


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May: the Force is with Us!


The Ltyentye Apurte Drummers at Wide Open Spaces 2012

The first public gig for The Ltyentye Apurte Drummers in 2012 was for the NTCOSS annual conference. This also happened to be their first paid/corporate gig and the audience, who were representative of all state-wide service providers, were blown away with a very slick performance. It was wonderful for all of us to be acknowledged for the hard work that goes into such celebrated success!

Second gig for The Drummers was at the Wide Open Spaces Festival performing the honorary ‘welcome to country’ . The festival site is located at Ross River in an intimate valley in East Arrente country which is family for some of the kids are custodian for. The Arrente men from Santa Teresa also gave a ceremonial dance. Revellers from far and wide assembled to cheer and dance to The Drummers’ smooth and confident performance. Many folks commented on their finesse and remarked on the sophistication of their rhythm pieces.

David Batty, Rebel film-maker, joined us for the preparations and unfolding of the days’ events. From filming us rehearsing at school in the morning to capturing the kids’ building excitement, creating a buzz around the festival’s launch, to focusing in on the joy on their faces while they performed, David and his camera were in the epicentre of a beautiful phenomenon!

Two weeks later, The Ltyentye Apurte Drummers were rehearsing their chops for a different kind of gig altogether; The Centralian School Eistedfodd. This event requires the kids to perform their work independently, which differs from the festival gigs where we enhance the band with djembe soloing and extra percussion. The band were totally up for the challenge.

Receiving their awards!

Announcement of their win.

Performing Markaru.

One of the key dun-dun players, Angelina, took up the helm of calling the changes in the arrangement on the whistle. Not only did she nail this role, but the judges admired her leadership skill. The adjudicator was overwhelmed with emotion when she took to the microphone to express her praise for such a ‘magical’ performance. The Drummers scored a 90% total and took out the trophy for the under 14 percussion section for 2012.

Riding on the high of the days’ success, we arranged for The Ltyentye Apurte Drummers to play their full set at The Steiner School Fair the next day. Once again, from their first beat to their last, folks were captivated, stopped in their tracks, heads turned to face the music, feeling the joy and power of the kids’ deadly drumming.

Last gig of the month turned out to be for a huge Labour campaign launch party in Santa Teresa. The state minister, Paul Henderson attended this event, as well as most of the community. The kids were more nervous about playing for their families than for any other gig! But they gave an electrifying performance nonetheless.


Mr. Henderson was suitably impressed and community members remarked on hearing new beats in the arrangements. For some of the elders, it was the first time they had seen and felt the power of The Drummers. Ceremonial dances were also performed by the women and the men, heralding the importance of such a gathering. It was great having an event like this purely for bringing the community together. After all of the formalities, the speeches and sharing of food, local Santa Teresa rock bands took the night out.

The school are keen for The Drummers to go on a regional tour, playing at schools and communities along the way and culminating with a performance at The Darwin Entertainment Centre for The Catholic Schools Festival.

This is being scheduled for late August, early September with their return to Central Australia co-inciding with the opening of the 2012 Alice Desert Festival, where The Ltyentye Apurte Drummers will feature once again.

The tour is an ambitious goal for all of us and we are currently seeking to develop philanthropic relationships to make this experience possible for the kids.

If you may be able to help, please don’t hesitate to write to us at

Dallas & Stormy holding their Eistedfodd trophy!



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They made the news this week!

Check out this video story by CAAMA here:




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The Beat Goes On: Ltyentye Apurte Drummers!


Welcome to Country

It was with great anticipation that we commenced our rhythm program at Ltyentye Apurte Catholic School again this year. This time our program was integrated into the curriculum of term 2 as we taught all of the kids for two full days per week for 11 weeks. After four weeks we had a select group ready to perform at the Wide Open Spaces Festival 2011. Given that many of these kids’ families originate from this eastern Arrente region, it was an honour to offer their opening performance as a ‘welcome to country’ and how warmly received this welcome was to a memorable festival weekend for many.


Returning the following week to the high spirits of the success of that gig (and excursion, almost a 400km return journey), we focused our next goal, for four weeks later, on performing in the 2011 Centralian Eistedfodd at the Araluen Theatre. This was to be a new experience for us all, never before having attended, let alone entered an inter-school performance ‘competition’. We seriously took on the challenge, determined to knock peoples’ socks off with the power of the Ltyentye Apurte Drummers’ sound!


The kids worked hard every class, every week, during and after school, and dedicated themselves to the goal of performing their pieces unassisted, with Shon’s ‘lead drummer’ role handed over to the group to execute themselves, as she took up conducting and Svet took a back seat in the shakers & bells section. We had two entries: one in the under 12 percussion section and the other in the open percussion section, although all 18 band members were between the ages of 10-12. The atmosphere was very formal and unfamiliar however, the kids respectfully observed the protocol and went on to deliver their performances with confidence and style. The judges happily awarded the group first prize in the open section and commended them on their strong sense of beat and entertaining presentation. They judges also expressed their appreciation for the appearance of more ‘exotic’ percussion ensembles in the Eistedfodd!

Djun Djun power

Rokiah, band leader

The restraint shown in the auditorium was relaxed in the back-stage dressing rooms with the glamorous festooned mirror lighting dazzling and exciting the kids. They could play at being stars, which in our eyes and in those of their teachers, parents and community, they really were. Many of the drummers will perform in the dance category at the same venue next week, affording us another opportunity to get the Ltyentye Apurte Drummers out for a couple more public performances in Alice Springs, while we’re still hot!

Backstage Araluen Theatre

Eistedfodd band

Every week when we drive back to Alice from Santa Teresa, we are thoroughly exhilarated and exhausted from the passion and intensity of the kids’ enjoyment of ensemble drumming with us. They have all come so far in their understanding of playing these African instruments well and are able to enjoy playing well

together. We are so grateful for having this opportunity to develop these skills in these young people and to receive so much wonderful testimony from the teachers on what positive changes they have been able to observe in them along the way.

Making their drums sing

Many great possibilities exist as to where to go next. We still dream of taking the Ltyentye Apurte Drummers to The Dreaming Festival however, they were severely affected by the QLD floods earlier this year and have had to forgo their planned festival for 2011. Other sights are set on securing festival appearances in Darwin, Melbourne, Adelaide, Sydney.. anywhere! To get there however, will take funding and support, and that’s what we will be looking at generating in the meantime.

Warming up

Eisteddfod show-time


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Last summer: Ampilatwatja


Over the 2010/11 summer we were recruited by CAYLUS to spend two  months in the remote Barkly community of Ampilatawatja , about 350km north east of Alice springs. It’s on the way to Mt Isa if you take the back roads from Alice.

It was an extended stay. Previously, we would  only be assigned to do our youth development programs over just the school holiday periods in various communities of the Pitjantjatjara lands. This time, we decided to take a break from there to explore new relationships and possibilities in different country and indeed, a different indigenous nation. Shon had previously spent two weeks teaching drumming in the Ampilatwatja  school with the CAAMA M.A.D for life project in 2007, so a connection had already been established.

The opportunity of working beyond the school holiday period really appealed to us as we  were able to help make the transition to school a little easier for the kids by being there for them. We counted down the days till school started and encouraged the kids to go and grow their young minds and continue to learn new and wonderful things about our world . Then, as the school year began, we continued our drumming and general  music workshops at school and ran games and sports after school. School attendance , so far, this year has been good!

The  Alyawarra  youth are gentle and enthusiastic. During the summer holiday period, however,  we focused on providing a holistic program incorporating structured educational activities; arts and craft, reading, sport and games,  cooking and nutrition programs, fun community events, group drumming, band rehearsals and music tuition, movie nights and of course the much loved weekly disco!

We conduct each of these activities with  a structure that leads to outcomes. For instance, we made a giant compass and explored geometric design on a large piece of calico. This became a giant painted mandala in which many young people contributed their designs and painting skills. Young people are encouraged by us to follow through on projects and to try to stay focused for as long as they can. Over time, the benefits and outcomes become apparent both to the youth and the wider community, and are enjoyed and appreciated. Quiet painting time during the heat of the day proved popular. Without a youth shed as such and no air-con on searing hot summer days, this activity, set up in the shade of the basketball court, offered us time to hang out, share stories and develop our creative  minds.

Our cooking and nutrition afternoons once a week were very popular. The aim of this activity is to teach  a team of young women  and kids how to prepare healthy food for large groups of people. We cater to feed approximately 60 people for each session. We make sure that all of the ingredients are readily available  from the community store and we try to introduce new and exciting dishes (African chicken stew!) as well as teach old favourites (spaghetti bolognaise). Once the dishes are prepared, we sell the meals for a token price at our movie nights in order to buy ingredients for the next weeks’ cooking program. One day, we hope that some of these young women  with this experience may be able to gain employment cooking for the Aged and Disabled Care Centre and/or be able to cook for large family occasions.

Our drumming sessions are always popular and we would set up under a shady on the side of the oval in the late afternoons while all sorts of sport would be happening at the same time. This created  a festival atmosphere and we discovered some very talented young women who displayed a very natural aptitude for rhythm! This is unusual for us as we mostly attract young males to our drumming sessions on other communities.

All in all, we had a wonderful summer. We made some great relationships with the youth and community of Ampilatwatja  and we were very happy to return for another period only 4 weeks later. We taught rhythm in the school every day and continued our general sport and games sessions after school and into the evenings.


The enthusiasm for drumming was so great that we organized a community concert on our last Friday evening with a BBQ cook-up and disco to follow. Parents and family were invited to come and watch  the kids perform, and we had about a hundred people come to celebrate these young kids’ achievements,  enjoy home-made burgers with them and stay for a rollicking good disco!



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GeNeraTe – Youth Arts Showcase, Alice Desert Festival 2010


The aim of our second visit to Santa Teresa was to train up a specific drumming group and develop a performance piece to be featured in the youth arts showcase, ‘Generate’, which is the opening event of the Alice Springs Desert Festival 2010.

In the space of one week, we got a band of 12 boys and girls up and ready for their debut performance on the big festival stage experience! The Ltyente Apurte Drummers performed with excellence and radiated like stars in front of an adoring crowd of two thousand people who attended the festival opening night.

Due to their success last year, the Ikuntji Drummers were invited for a return performance at the same event this year. With only a week to prepare, all of the kids drummed with us at school and after school everyday, resulting in a performing group that was double in size to last year. These kids were most enthusiastic and excitable with the experienced few exuding a sense of knowing and confidence. We watched these Ikuntji Drummers shine before the same adoring crowds.

Our rhythm program was well supported by the Ikuntji School and the MacDonnell Shire. Without their support these kids would not have been able to accept the honourable invitation of an encore performance, so we sincerely thank the principals and the Shire for getting behind us to help make this happen.

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Ltyentye Apurte School, Santa Teresa, N.T.


The second school visit of the year, was by the invitation of a teacher at the Ltyentye Apurte School in Santa Teresa, 80km south-east of Alice Springs. Having observed the kids’ tendencies to beat out a rhythm on anything with anything, the teacher tracked us down to bring our African rhythm program to their school. We appreciated her opinion that a rhythm program would have educational and therapeutic benefits for their school, and we were keen to provide it!

Over a two week intensive period, we worked with every grade class at least four times each. The transitions and grade ones didn’t miss out either as we entertained them with simple songs, dances and rhythm accompaniments. All one hundred and twenty of the enrolled kids had an opportunity to learn rhythm with us in that fortnight and the response was most enthusiastic.

Of course, the experience of learning ensemble drumming takes a lot of  concentration on many things at once; technique, listening, playing and listening, polyrhythms, etc. To begin each class, we would take the students through warm-up and cross-core exercises to limber up their bodies and their brains, in order to able to focus on ‘the pulse’ and recognize group cohesion.

As the fortnight progressed, we developed and practiced unique rhythm arrangements specific to each class, according to their skill development. These pieces were performed by each grade class at school assembly on our last day, giving them the experience of performing for an audience, which in this case was their wider school community. Having a performance outcome helps to develop individual and group confidence, which inevitably extends to a becoming sense of pride and empowerment for the whole community. Everyone was so happy with the results and the experience that we were invited back to the school in August.

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