ANDREW JONATHAN (AJ) BLOCK is a didgeridoo player and teacher inspired by music, yoga and spirituality. As co-founder of the New York didgeridoo awareness organization Didge Project, AJ has built his work around the integration of sound and healing. Performing in a wide range of settings, AJ brings his music to healing events, large-scale meditative gatherings, festivals and dance parties. As a teacher AJ primarily works with individuals who have come to the didgeridoo as a tool for healing. Emphasis on breath control has led many of AJ’s clients to learn to play didgeridoo to treat respiratory conditions such as sleep apnea, snoring and asthma. AJ also facilitates healing experiences by playing the didgeridoo while his client(s) relax and go deep into their healing process. His healing clients have come to him to work on conditions including, but not limited to, stress, anxiety, and women’s reproductive disorders. With a multi-faceted approach to music and healing, AJ feels blessed to be alive at this time and share the gifts he has been given.
One of AJ’s great early influences was jazz music, which he studied extensively on the trombone. Shortly after picking up the didgeridoo, AJ put the trombone down and began to spend time playing piano. He is currently of student of pianist Alex Pryrodny, with whom he has now been studying for a number of years. Another major musical influence of his is Indian Classical Music. After a short attempt at studying tabla, the Indian twin-drum, AJ found that he resonated with the practice of vocal raga. He is now a student of acclaimed Indian vocalist Ustad Mashkoor Ali Khan of the Kirana Gharana (lineage). AJ has now been practicing yoga for a number of years and honors the teachings of Swami Satchidananda, Yogi Bhajan, Paramhansa Yogananda and Dharma Mittra. As a healer AJ was guided to seek out a teacher. This led him to study with Maestro Manuel Rufino, a living spiritual teacher and director of the Heart and Mind Festival.
Originally from Los Angeles, California, AJ took up the piano at a very young age and switched over to trombone at age 12. He pursued jazz studies through high school and college and was fortunate to study with some great teachers including Ross Shub (wind instruments, Sepulveda Middle School), Kevin Bradley (trombone, Los Angeles), Ken Lasaine (jazz, Los Angeles), John Doheny (jazz , New Orleans) and John Nathan (jazz, U.C. Santa Barbara). When AJ finally graduated college he was determined to be a musician. In his subsequent travels he was introduced to the didgeridoo by his friend Phil Schwartz and was struck by the potential of using sound as a healing tool. On a few occasions during this period, Phil Schwartz’s didgeridoo playing led AJ into deep states of meditation and relaxation. Up until this point AJ had never meditated, tried yoga, or shown much interest in spirituality. AJ immediately picked up the didgeridoo and began to teach himself, with Schwartz’s guidance, how to play it. The years of brass instrument training on the trombone helped AJ to rapidly develop a unique didgeridoo style.
Shortly after moving to New York the didgeridoo began to open many doors for AJ and his friend Tyler Sussman. The two soon founded Didge Project and began bringing the didgeridoo into many different environments. Collaborations combined the instrument with healing work (such as acupuncture and reiki), yoga classes, dance parties and world music events. Much of Didge Project’s early activity was in the New York community of consciousness and spirituality.
With Didge Project co-founder Tyler Sussman, AJ Block has produced two albums: Didgeridoo Meditation: An Odyssey Through Consciousness (2009) and As One (2011). In India he recorded a single with flute master Navin Iyer entitled “Bansuri Meditation” (2012). He is constantly working on new music and collaborations.
Emerging as the director of Didge Project, AJ saw the need for a supportive community of didgeridoo players in New York and began organizing gatherings and workshops to teach how to play the sacred aboriginal instrument. Hosting regular gatherings in Manhattan’s Central Park, Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, Integral Yoga Institute and other NYC venues, Didge Project has now supported countless individuals on their path to healing and learning to play didgeridoo. AJ is one of New York’s only full-time didgeridoo players and teachers and he now travels extensively, bringing the didgeridoo and his work around the world.
AJ currently lives in Brooklyn, NY where he aims to spread awareness for the didgeridoo, a tool he believes will do a great deal to elevate humanity.