For many people the didgeridoo is the sound of Australia and it has certainly been played there for thousands of years. Today the didgeridoo has soared in popularity and people all over the world are learning to play the instrument. It is basically a wooden tube about 1.5m long and is traditionally made from the branch of a tree that has been hollowed out by ants.
The technique for playing the instrument is very difficult to master. To begin with, you create sound in much the same way as any orchestral brass instrument: with a buzzing of the lips as you blow. Once you can create a basic sound you need to then keep the sound going continuously by breathing in each new lung-full of air through your nose at the same time as squeezing out the last bit of air in your cheeks. This is called circular breathing: breathing in and out at the same time! After you have learnt to circular breathe there are many more things to learn in order to make the playing rhythmic and to be able to change the tone of the sound in different ways.
Circular breathing has had an enormous impact on the other wind instruments of the orchestra. Most orchestral wind players have tried it at some time and some have learnt to do it well. It works best on certain instruments and has become particularly popular among jazz saxophone players.
Many people will be surprised that you can play a flute with your nose, but nose flutes are in fact very common. There are many different varieties of nose flute and they are played all over the Pacific region and in Africa.
When played it makes a very gentle, sweet sound. You don't need to blow hard to play a nose flute (that could be messy!) but instead the player gently breathes out through the nose over the air hole to produce the sound. The three holes in the middle of the instrument are for the fingers of the right hand to create the notes. The left hand is used to hold the instrument up to your nose and to keep your spare nostril shut.