Australian Aborigines make didgeridoos from hollowed eucalyptus branches. They are fitted with a beeswax mouthpiece and painted with symbolic art. The didgeridoo "requires no musical background," said Jones. "It takes one note to play it. Just get the basic sound and keep it simple. When you make the connection with this thing, it really changes you."
Change has been a foundation of Jones' life. With a hit blues record at the age of 16 in Australia, Jones set out on his path. He was a cruise-ship singer, lead singer of the English band Quintessence in the late '60s and early '70s (opening for the Grateful Dead, The Who and Credence Clearwater Revival, with two appearances at the Royal Albert Hall), manager of a plant store and owner of a landscaping business. He studied with a Hindu master in England for seven years, worked with the locals in Woodstock, N.Y., and studied with the Aborigines in Australia. Now he travels year-round teaching the didgeridoo and offering private vibrational therapy sessions. When asked if he found his calling, his emphatic response was "absolutely. ... It's making me feel really good."
Jones has plenty of praise for the didgeridoo. "If you play it intuitively, it becomes a very healing instrument. It lowers blood pressure, increases the lymph system's ability to cleanse the blood ... gives you an emotional clearing ... and [helps you] connect with your concept of what God is. Through breath and sound, you learn to clear the mind," he said.
Jones believes a clear mind is the key to high levels of self-fulfillment. By calming the body and clearing the mind, the didgeridoo is "the duster that erases the monkey chatter and mind clutter from the screen of consciousness. In a clear mind, affirmations stick when placed in the subconscious. You have to get to the bottom of your mind to retrain it. You've got to let go and do it yourself," he said.
The philosophy of doing it yourself carries into Jones' workshops. At a recent workshop hosted by the Church of Religious Science in Green Valley, Jones advised his 20 students to "breathe spirit into it." Members of his class picked out their own didgeridoo, cleaned the mouthpiece and were ready for action. Jones instructed students to loosen their lips, put them over the mouthpiece and blow using a circular breathing technique. After a barrage of deep sounds emanated from the instruments, gleeful giggles filled the room with exclamations of "I did it." Jones happily sang, "Green Valley is the place to be"--playing off the theme from Green Acres. More laughter filled the room as the lesson continued.
Jones outlined basic steps to playing the didgeridoo. First, the lips must be loose. Second, one must master circular breathing--a technique that allows a continuous airflow by breathing in the nose and out the mouth. More advanced techniques allow for the use of the tongue and voice to make distinctive sounds. Even though he instructs students on the use of the instrument, Jones said "it is a spiritual tool first and musical tool second."
That belief is evident in his workshop agenda. In between playing the didgeridoo and instructing his students, Jones stressed the spiritual use of the instrument. "It's a tool for acceleration into spirit. [It helps you achieve] a clear, focused state of consciousness. Wherever you want to go, it will take you there," he said.
Jones clearly enjoys speaking about spiritual matters in his didgeridoo lessons. He passionately talks about forgiveness, God and the soul. "The human soul comes from a place of joy and love. When you clear your mind, you can reconnect with this," he said. Jones' own use of the didgeridoo has helped him connect to the deep joy within. It now takes him 90 seconds to reach a meditative state, compared to a two-hour process years ago. "I took a quantum leap," he said.
Workshop participants in Green Valley also took leaps in their own spiritual growth. "This workshop inspired me to deepen my spiritual practice," said Rev. Marvis Rodrigues. "I felt he opened up a new era [for me]," said Merrifran Ingvoldstad, a 90-year-old participant. Several class members bought didgeridoos and signed up for private vibrational therapy sessions.
Individual sessions are designed to help the client develop goals and affirmations. Jones aims the didgeridoo at chakras (seven energy center points on the body) to help remove blocks. Through use of breath and sound, the experience can take a person to the core of their being. The goal of an individual session is "to self-empower people so they can reach higher levels of personal fulfillment," said Jones.
Personal fulfillment is part of the Australian's life. He continues to travel with his wife, Jennifer, throughout the U.S. and takes breaks at their New Mexico residence. Jones' path will continue to unfold with the didgeridoo at his side, but his past musical talents are coming forth. His seventh CD--Shiva Shakti, to be released soon--is rock with an Eastern/Western influence. Another tour may be imminent. But until then, Jones will travel the land with his didgeridoo, sense of humor and messages of spiritual enlightenment.