As a sponsor of the Telstra ARIA Music Teacher of the Year Award, now in its third year, we’re proud to support Australia’s music teachers in their mission to provide children with a better education and the chance to play and enjoy music.

The Telstra ARIA Music Teacher of the Year Award has become a highlight of the ARIA Awards ceremony, because it holds such special meaning to musicians and music lovers across Australia. The award recognises music teachers for their passion and hard work in providing Australian children with a better education and the chance to play and enjoy music. There is growing recognition worldwide of the value of creativity and the arts to improve education standards, and build a better connection for students to their school life in general.

Here are the four nominees for this year’s Telstra ARIA Music Teacher of the Year Award.

Julia Rennick – Gunnedah Public School, NSW

Julia is a long-serving music teacher working in the NSW community of Gunnedah. For many, Julia was their first ever music teacher: she brings the joy of musical education into her early childhood and learning programs for over 20 years. As a result of her many years of music teaching, her impact in the local community can only be described as generational. Julia also works with Parkinson’s patients to ensure that the benefits of music are brought to all ages in the local community.

Julia’s passion and contribution makes her a rock star in her community. She started 25 years ago developing the cutting-edge music education program she teaches today. Julia believes musical language can be learned alongside literacy for young children, and has spend decades seeing the benefits musical education has on young children. Watch the video where Emma Wiggle surprises Mrs Rennick’s young class and shares insights from the local community on why she’s been nominated for the Tesltra ARIA Music Teacher of the Year Award.

Antonio Chiappetta – St. Andrews College, Sydney, NSW

Antonio is recognised as the driving force behind stellar musical opportunities for students at Sydney’s St. Andrews College. Years ago, he pioneered the school’s Creative Arts Night (CAN) which has grown exponentially each year. It has now involved into a music festival inside the school grounds for over 2000 people each year. It brings in students from all over the school to contribute and get hands on in their education.

Antonio has inspired students from St. Andrews College to become music teachers themselves, and inspires others to try new things with their musical education.

Conrad Sewell travelled to Mr Chiappetta’s school to learn more about his work, why he was nominated, and even sing a song with the kids from the music class who already knew one of his songs.

Lee Strickland – Narbethong State Special School, Woolloongabba, Queensland

Narbethong State Special School provides specialised education for children with vision impairment and other disabilities. Lee goes above and beyond to make sure her kids get dedicated musical education. She customises her teaching and vernacular to each individual student to make sure that they get the best education to suit them.

Lee has developed programs via music that aim to develop translatable skills. There’s a piano program to help develop fine motor skills to aid in reading Braille; music communication to help students to learn how to say ‘yes’ and ‘no’ if they’re unable to say it verbally, and music movement session to help develop balance and coordination. She even customises instruments to make sure that students get access to help them learn.

Katie Noonan travelled to Brisbane to experience Ms Strickland’s incredible music room, and see the changes that music is making in the lives of kids.

Bel Skinner – Broome, NSW and Pilbara/Kimberley, WA

Based in Broome, Bel teaches music throughout the Pilbara and Kimberley regions of Western Australia. Driving tens of thousands of kilometres for her students in remote communities, Bel’s classroom is one of the biggest in the world.

Sometimes in small communities, Bel doesn’t even teach in a classroom at all. She works against the odds with a lack of resources in these communities to make sure that her students get the best education possible.

Musician Montaigne travelled to Broome to find out about Bel’s incredible work to bring music education to remote communities.

Voting for the Telstra ARIA Music Teacher of the Year Award is now open.