Teacher appreciation days are by now well-established events in the Australian calendar, as they are with many other countries, but setting aside one day of the year to recognise the contribution specifically made by music teachers is something we do not do or haven’t done as yet. In the US though, such a day happens in small-scale fashion every March in Sedalia, Missouri. Music Teacher Appreciation Day there celebrates the efforts of community-based music teachers, and it was introduced by the mayor of that city last year to commemorate the work of a much admired local music teacher, Jordan Ali Halane.
The idea seems a good one for wider adoption including in Australia, where private and studio based music teachers collectively make a very considerable contribution to young people’s musical education but all too often do not receive the recognition that they deserve. A music teacher appreciation day might be just the thing that is needed, and it could be set up as an initiative of local councils, local schools or local music businesses.
We already have the ARIA Music Teacher of the Year Award, and this extends eligibility to private music teachers and community based teachers, but so far this award has gone to classroom music teachers. ASME’s newly created annual Indigenous Teacher Award acknowledges the importance of community based teaching and might serve as a model for what could be done. Its inaugural winner was NT singer-songwriter Shellie Morris, who has worked in upwards of 70 remote communities in Australia during her career.