Newcastle music teacher on ARIA shortlist

A teacher who has spent the past 21 years supporting student musicians in the Hunter is in the running for a national award, writes Sven Wright.

11 October 2021
A headshot of a male teacher
Image: Note-able work: Inspiring music teacher Dan Wilson.

Dan Wilson of Lambton High School has been honoured as one of just four teachers, and the only one from NSW, nominated from across Australia for the 2021 Telstra ARIA Music Teacher Award.

Principal Gary Bennett said Mr Wilson, the Head Teacher, Creative and Performing Arts, was hugely deserving of the nomination after 21 years helping create the Hunter public schools’ performing arts extravaganza, Star Struck, and half of that time as musical director.

“Dan’s staggering musical ability, combined with his professionalism and limitless energy have inspired literally thousands of students in making music and the performing arts part of their lives at school and beyond, including many who have become professional,” Mr Bennett said.

“To think that it has all been done in his own time makes the debt of gratitude owed by students, parents and staff who’ve benefitted from his commitment all the greater.”

Mr Wilson was nominated by former student and country music singer Morgan Evans, who dropped in on an online meeting to present him with the nomination.

“To be recognised by an industry I follow so avidly is insane,” Mr Wilson, who first was involved with Star Struck as a Year 11 student, told him.

Star Struck alumni, music theatre legend David Harris and four-time Golden Guitar winner Catherine Britt, also threw their support behind Mr Wilson.

“I found my tribe during Star Struck,” Harris told Mr Wilson. “I look back on that time and I say thank goodness; it literally changed my life.

“The amount of lives you have touched and influenced and the careers you have started; I personally want to thank you for that.”

The award is presented by ARIA in partnership with Telstra and The Song Room, an organisation working with schools to provide music and arts programs to students, and specialist arts and music training to classroom teachers.

The award started in 2017 and the winner is determined by a popular vote which closes on Wednesday 17 November.

ARIA chief executive officer Annabelle Herd said the award was a celebration of music education.

“In such a difficult time, it’s incredible to see music’s ability to bring light into the lives of so many children,” said Ms Herd.

“I’m thrilled at the volume of passionate, dedicated and inspiring music teachers who have been nominated for the Telstra ARIA Music Teacher Award.”

The other final nominees are Ashley Baxter of Pimlico State High School in Townsville; Zoë Barry from the Sacred Heart School, Melbourne; and Aaron Silver from Wodonga Primary School.

The winner will be announced at the ARIAs on November 24.



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