Preserving language through music


American singer-songwriter, the “Piano Man” Billy Joel once commented on the power of music saying that “music in itself is healing. It’s an explosive expression of humanity. It’s something we are all touched by. No matter what culture we’re from, everyone loves music.”

This is so true. But there’s actually more to this amazing power of music than one would think.

Music not only has the power to evoke feelings, it can also be used to build bridges between relationships and cultures, and even as a means to preserve languages at risk.


The Song Keepers is a documentary that tells the story of an Aboriginal women’s choir and their first tour to Germany. 140 years ago, a group of Lutheran missionaries arrived in remote Central Australia. It was then the baroque German hymns were first introduced to the communities of the land’s original inhabitants, and was later on translated into their ancient indigenous languages.

Through music, both of these ancient German hymns as well as the Aboriginal languages and cultures are being passed down through four generations of women whose ancestors were part of the Choir.

Setting aside the controversy of colonization, this documentary not only proves that music can stand the tests of time, it also shows that the power of music can bring two unlikely cultures together towards a positive outcome.

If this story fascinates you, you may want to check out The Song Keepers, which is playing in selected cinemas in Australia right now.

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