A new annual award has been launched by the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) that recognises excellence in music teaching. Established to lift the profile of music education in this country, the ARIA Music Teacher of the Year Award “is open to any teacher working in a school, kindergarten, early childhood centre, youth centre or private tuition music school running a music program”.
ARIA’s inaugural award will operate like the GRAMMY Music Educator Award in the US, with which it shares many similarities. Anyone, whether a student, parent or fellow teacher, can nominate a teacher whom they believe has made an outstanding contribution to school music teaching. In October, four teachers will be shortlisted and partnered with ARIA’s Ambassadors for the award, Jay Laga’aia, Jessica Mauboy, Katie Noonan and Missy Higgins, who will visit their schools and “help celebrate their success and tell their story”.
A public voting process will then decide the winner, to be announced at the 2017 ARIA Awards in November. The prize will be a music package sourced from Fender, Kawai, Roland and Yamaha for the winner’s school.
Dan Rosen, Chief Executive of ARIA, said: “For every performer who makes it to the ARIA stage, there was a teacher or mentor who played a critical role in getting them there. Starting this year, we are celebrating our music teachers on the ARIA national stage and to bring attention to the inspiring and impactful work being done by thousands of music teachers across Australia.”
Nominations close on 21 July, and entry forms can be found here.
ARIA’s initiative is to be applauded. Music Australia has previously reported that most Australian school children are missing out on the benefits of music education. Its new Music Teacher of the Year award promises to lift the profile of music teachers around the country and increase awareness of the importance of music programs in schools.
Jimmy Barnes, Inductee into ARIA’s Hall of Fame, welcomed the award saying: “I think it’s incredible that in a country like ours, only one in four schools have music teachers. I think that’s something we’ve really got to work on… Music can change people and I think it’s important that it gets started at a really early age. The sooner the better.”
Also to be applauded, the Australian Society for Music Education (ASME) has introduced an annual Music Educating for Life Award this year that is aimed at recognising this country’s most outstanding music educators. It takes the place of the National Awards for Excellence in School Music Education which regrettably ceased in 2012 due to the Federal Government having closed off funding. These were administered by ASME and provided around a dozen prizes each year worth $5,000.
This new award operates similarly through ASME’s state chapters. Each chapter calls for nominations and selects one winner, who is chosen on the basis of their “effectiveness and innovation in enabling development of new musical understandings that build on and enrich pupils’ knowledge, skills and attitudes in music”, amongst other criteria. Winners are announced at ASME’s National Conference, the most recent of which has just concluded in Melbourne – check ASME’s site for news.