The ARIA Award nominees still at school
IT'S not every day The Veronicas walk into the middle of your concert band practise, so much-loved Queensland music teacher Kathryn McLennan was "gobsmacked" when the pop stars crashed her class at Virginia State School.
Mrs Mac, as she is affectionately know at the school was presented with a nomination for the 2020 ARIA Music Teacher of the Year award by the Untouched siblings.
Greeted by a reluctant 15 students in the music class when she started teaching at the school in 1991, Mrs Mac now conducts a choir of 450 singers and a concert band of 100 players.
She has also established a "tech team" of students as young as nine, who set up microphones, mixing boards and run the production at concerts.
Their biggest lesson - how not to make "feedback".
"Mrs Mac is loved by every single student in that classroom; when they were playing, you could see the pride they hold and they really respect her," The Veronicas' Lisa Origliasso said.
"And they're really talented."
The other nominees include Thomas Fienberg from Evans High School in Blacktown, NSW, C.J. Shaw from the Palmerston District Primary School, ACT and Sarah Donnelley from Wilcannia Central School, chosen from more than 200 submissions.
Each teacher was surprised with the news of their nomination by ARIA Ambassadors, with Christine Anu joined by Paul Kelly and Kev Carmody - the songwriters of From Little Things, Big Things Grow - to sing Sarah Donnelley's praises.
As well as literally "connecting" her students in the NSW outback with nine kilometres of caution tape when teachers went to pick up completed homework and drop off new texts as they did not have internet connection at home, the young music teacher got the kids involved in an ambitious music video project.
"We came up with the concept of a music video and recruited the radio station who played From Little Things Big Things Grow on the air, inviting students to send in video selfies of themselves singing along," she said.
Her fellow NSW nominee Dr Fienberg runs a successful program at the Blacktown high school called Solid Ground which aims to reconnect Indigenous students with their cultural heritage by writing and recording their own songs and staging productions they perform throughout the State.
C.J. Shaw has written hundreds of songs to help his Canberra primary students learn complex or challenging subjects.
More than a few parents would benefit from "studying" his big hits with the kids including the Homophone Rap and the Time Tables Rap.
His community nominated him for the 2020 ARIA Music Teacher of the Year award, with Shaw making the final four short-listed from more than 200 submissions from around Australia.
Shaw was surprised with his nomination by his biggest musical hero Jimmy Barnes.
"To get an ARIA nomination from Barnesy himself leaves a Barnesy fan like myself absolutely stumped for words," the former musician turned teacher said.
He was also recognised for the song Anzac biscuit which he wrote to help his students, who are from defence families, understand the concept of war.
The Telstra-assisted award was launched by ARIA and arts learning organisation The Song Room four years ago to spotlight the importance of music education in engaging children at school.
"Our music teachers nurture the next generation of musicians, and students who study music achieve better grades, better school attendance and increased mental health," ARIA CEO Dan Rosen said.
Voting opens today for the award via https://www.aria.com.au/music-teacher.
Originally published as The ARIA Award nominees still at school