National Library of Australia

Teachers notes: ‘Waltzing Matilda’


A student:

  • composes musical works using knowledge and ideas from research into different cultures.
  • makes musical works using skills, techniques and processes appropriate for the style and form chosen.
  • uses musical terminology in written and oral work, e.g. refers to the expressive characteristics of a piece of music, contemporary musicians or music in electronic media.
  • rehearses, performs and promotes musical works in ways appropriate for particular audiences.
  • identifies and analyses by discussion, comparison and interpretation, the musical characteristics of a work and people’s responses to it.
  • understands the music of different social and cultural groups and their historical development and reflects this knowledge in musical activities.

The creation of Australia’s unofficial anthem is almost as remarkable as the story behind its famous lyrics.


  • Research music and instruments used in Australian Indigenous music.
  • Compose a piece of music using the skills, techniques, instruments and processes discovered. Set the lyrics of Waltzing Matilda to this piece of music.
  • Notate your composition using both conventional and non-conventional methods and terminologies: try visual symbols; words; colours.
  • Discuss, compare and contrast the characteristics of the various interpretations, and those of the original version.
  • In a group, rehearse, promote and perform the original versions of Waltzing Matilda for various audiences: your class; your school; and for parents.
  • Write a short essay comparing and contrasting the social and cultural origins and development of Indigenous music to those of Australian bush folk music.